Dialogue makes a difference: update on 'RuPaul's Drag Race'

Yesterday RuPaul and the producers of RuPaul's Drag Race released a statement addressing the 'Female or She-male' segment which aired last week on the show:

"We delight in celebrating every color in the LGBT rainbow. When it comes to the movement of our trans sisters and trans brothers, we are newly sensitized and more committed than ever to help spread love, acceptance and understanding," said RuPaul Charles, Fenton Bailey, Randy Barbato, Tom Campbell, Steven Corfe and Mandy Salangsang.

Logo TV also released a statement:

"We have heard the concerns around this segment. We are committed to sharing a diverse range of trans stories across all of our screens and look forward to featuring positive and groundbreaking stories of trans people in the future."

The morning after the segment aired GLAAD staff reached out to Logo and shared our own concerns, as well as the feedback we heard from the trans community. We also talked directly to the producers of RuPaul's Drag Race.

The mistakes made in this segment should not be repeated. Words are important and have tremendous power. Since 1999 we have stated in our Media Reference Guide that anti-trans slurs are defamatory:  "These words only serve to dehumanize transgender people and should not be used." The network and the show's producers heard that from us - and from those of you who spoke up. It's a message that GLAAD staff (trans and cis) have shared with countless LGB and straight producers, reporters, celebrities, and media executives.

Some writers and trans advocates questioned our entire commitment to trans people because we did not post about this issue on our site immediately. Why was there not an immediate post? We know from past experience that dialogue and education are the most effective ways to create substantive and lasting change in the media, and today's statements are the beginning of new conversations with this network and this show.

Speaking out against certain words is only one part of creating a safer and more just world for trans people. Reaching that goal will require telling the stories of trans people in a way that destroys stereotypes and humanizes our existence. GLAAD is committed to telling those stories.

We will continue to work with trans women who have gained visibility through their inclusion on RuPaul's Drag Race - women like Carmen Carrera and Monica Beverly Hillz. We will work with Logo as they follow through on their commitment to share diverse and groundbreaking stories of trans women and men. We will continue working to create more opportunities in all media (mainstream and LGBT) for trans people to talk about the beauty and diversity within our community.

We hope you will join us in our other current campaigns to help the first trans woman perform at Carnegie Hall, end discrimination against trans women at Crossfit, and bring mainstream media attention to the Trans 100.

Culture-changing work is a marathon, not a sprint. The specific details of GLAAD's work with the media are not always visible, but our commitment to fair and accurate representations of trans people in news and entertainment media is unwavering.

You can learn about just some of the highlights of GLAAD's work on trans media representations here, and on our blog here.