RuPaul Breaks His Silence Over 'Tranny' Controversy

By: Daniel Reynolds
5.23.2014

RuPaul Charles has broken his silence regarding his current view on the use of the word "tranny."

The world’s most famous drag queen defended his use and love of the word Monday on the WTF With Marc Maron Podcast. Charles was responding to criticism by transgender people, including former RuPaul's Drag Race contestants and trans performers Monica Beverly Hillz and Carmen Carrera, who say it is a slur that should never be used.

“Does the word ‘tranny’ bother me? No. I love the word ‘tranny,’” Charles said. “It’s not the transsexual community who’s saying that. These are fringe people who are looking for storylines to strengthen their identity as victims. That is what we are dealing with. It’s not the trans community. ’Cause most people who are trans have been through hell and high water. And they’ve looked behind the curtain at Oz and go, ‘Oh, this is all a fucking joke.’ But some people haven’t and they’ve used their victimhood to create a situation where, ‘No! You look at me! I want you to see me the way you’re supposed to see me!’”

“If your idea of happiness has to do with someone else changing what they say, what they do, you are in for a fucking hard-ass road,” Charles continued. “Because the ego would have you think, if you stop what you’re doing, Marc, if you change that shirt, then I’ll be happy. That is a trap. That is a trap that the ego will have you… it gets you every time. Listen, I’ve been up against that. … My 32-year career speaks for itself. I dance to the beat of a different drummer. I believe everybody — you can be whatever the hell you wanna be. I ain’t stopping you. But don’t you dare tell me what I can do or what I can’t — say or do. It’s just words, like, ‘Yeah, words hurt me!’ [Whiny inflection] Bitch, you need to get stronger. If you’re upset by something I said, you have bigger problems than you think."

This is the first time that Charles has publicly commented on the t word since a 2012 interview with The Huffington Post, in which he strongly defended its use. 

Discussing out singer Lance Bass’s then-recent apology for uttering the word on national television, RuPaul balked. "Unfortunately in our culture one person can write a letter to the network and they shut something down," he said. "It's unfortunate. But I love the word 'tranny.' And no one has ever said the word 'tranny' in a derogatory sense. In fact, you have to go to the intent of the person saying it. Of course Lance Bass, his intent would never be to be derogatory. Never. So, you know, that's really ridiculous. And I hate the fact that he's apologized. I wish he would have said, 'F-you, you tranny jerk!'"

In Monday's interview with Marc Maron, Charles also addressed the controversy over language this season on RuPaul’s Drag Race. The reality show's network, Logo TV, not only apologized and pulled a controversial episode from its archives — in which contestants had to label close-up photographs as either “female” or “shemale” — but it also went a step further, vowing to remove a popular segment, “You’ve Got Shemail,” which was present from the show’s inception, from all future seasons.

“Just recently, our show got into some thing with,” he said. “But these are four people who have a Wi-Fi connection, sit behind a computer in God knows where, and deliberately misinterpret our verbage, and decide, ‘You hurt me.’ We are not doing anything to you. That’s how you interpreted it. And you have the freedom to do that. But we are coming from a place of love.”

“You know, I can call myself a nigger, faggot, tranny all I want to, because I’ve fucking earned the right to do it. I’ve lived the life,” he said. “I’ve been on the front line. … And if I call my girlfriend ‘bitch,’ she knows I’m talking about it from a place of love. She knows that. But people out of school can take that same information and try to use it against me, because the ego cannot pick up the intention behind it.”

"It's the same as in the book … Orwell’s Animal Farm, where the pigs forgot why they had a revolution in the first place," he continued. "And the pigs started walking up on their hind legs. But no no no. The reason why we did this was because we wanted to start something different, something new, something broader. … Secretly, they just want to be Farmer John.”

“I’ve actually stayed away from this dialogue forever because it’s a lose-lose situation. You cannot win with this,” he concluded. “I believe what I believe. You believe what you believe. Let’s just call it a truce.”

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