Performing (Asian American trans) femme on RuPaul’s Drag Race: dis/orienting racialized gender, or, performing trans femme of color, regardless

Lore/tta LeMaster, Michael Tristano

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations

Abstract

This essay turns to reality television to perform trans of color criticism. Taking as its analytic focus the embodied performance–and concomitant mediated production–of whiteness by Asian American drag queen competitor Gia Gunn on the reality competition series RuPaul’s Drag Race [Bailey, F., Barbato, R., Campbell, T., RuPaul, Corfe, S., Post, P., & Salangsang, M. (Executive Producers). (2012). RuPaul's drag race all stars [TV series]. World of Wonder Productions]. We argue that Gia exploits what Nishime, L. [(2017). Mixed race matters. Cinema Journal, 56(3), 148–152. https://doi.org/10.1353/cj.2017.0031] calls the “perceived malleability of Asianness,” allowing her to perform a queer version of white womanhood. In turn, media producers orientalize Gia’s performance, effectively constructing a trans femme formation in transmisogynistic terms. In turn, and in the words of Nakayama, T. [(2012). Dis/orienting identities. In A. Gonzalez, M. Houston, & Y. Chen (Eds.), Our voices (pp. 20–25). Oxford University Press], the racialized trans formation “dis/orients” mediated tropes constraining Asianness.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal of International and Intercultural Communication
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2021

Keywords

  • Ambiguity
  • mixed-race
  • trans femme
  • trans of color criticism
  • whiteness

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cultural Studies
  • Communication

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