Published March 11, 2023 / Updated March 16, 2023


The protection that our children need is not from drag queens. They need protection from violence.

by Susan E. Stutz

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Photo of a drag queen with bright purple hair, red lipstick, and stage makeup.

Photo by Rochelle Brown on Unsplash

“We’re born naked. The rest is all drag.”
–Ru Paul

Let’s start with the lies. There are only two sexes. Genitalia is equal to gender. Sexuality is equivalent to gender. Hetero is the only sexuality that is normal. Gender identity is static over time. What you see on the outside reflects the inside. And everything else is deviant, abhorrent. Regarding many of our norms, what has “always been” is not always right or true. And “the way it has always been” has changed considerably over time.

In middle school, a best friend’s brother, Peter, was gay. He and a few of his friends were the first openly gay people I knew. And several of them were also drag queens. Peter performed as Melissa Manchester, and it was thrilling to watch his transformation. Using make-up and the thickest tights I have ever seen, Peter became a star. Although I did not realize it then, his impact on my life was significant. Knowing him helped to shape my views about homosexuality and was quite possibly the first step towards an inclusive mindset. No one in my life told me that being gay was wrong or that my love for Peter was misplaced. Peter was just Peter, and I loved him for exactly who he was. I was privileged to have known him and to be a part of his life.

Drag dates back more than 140 years to when, in the 1880s, William Dorsey Swann became the first individual to have claimed the moniker “drag queen.” Mr. Swann lived at the intersection of racism, homophobia, slavery, and the notion of true manhood. He was also the first leader of a queer resistance group and the first to take legal action to defend queer rights. Mr. Swann laid the foundation for modern drag and its inclusion in society. Since then, drag has become more mainstream, but not completely so. As with so many others, drag and those who engage in and partake of it are a segment of the population that continues to fight for recognition and acceptance.

Anti-trans legislatures are looking to ensnare all of what they deem subversive in its net and in opposition to the false narrative of what counts as normal. They are doing this by enacting laws that criminalize who we are as humans. As of February of this year, there were 12 states actively seeking to outlaw drag, with many looking to criminalize this community in more ways than ever before. For example, West Virginia’s SB252 would make it illegal for a transgender person to exist in front of minors. South Dakota’s HB1125 tries to hide its trans-phobia behind a call for the “protection of children from certain exhibitions’ by prohibiting “singing, speaking, dancing, acting, simulation, or pantomiming, where a performer, in a lewd and lascivious manner, and in the presence of others, exhibit a gender identity that is different from the performer's biological sex through the use of clothing, makeup, or other physical markers.”

The GOP does not have America's best interest at heart, and they certainly are not doing anything to protect our children. I am here to tell you that seeing a person in drag as a child did not harm me. It taught me that humanity comes in all different shapes, sizes, and colors and is beautiful in its own way. The protection that our children need is not from drag queens. They need protection from violence. At the same time that states are looking to enact anti-trans legislation, the party looks the other way as those same children are mowed down in their schools. In his interview with Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm (R), John Stewart said it best:

Image of John Stewart and Oklahoma State Sen. Nathan Dahm

Jon Stewart interviews Oklahoma Republican state Sen. Nathan Dahm on season two of “The Problem With Jon Stewart.”

“[They] do not mind infringing free speech to protect children from this amorphous thing that [they] think of, but when it comes to children who have died, [they] don’t give a flying fuck.”

12,000,000 children across the country who go to bed hungry each night? Not a problem. 2,500,000 million children who do not have a roof over their heads? Meh, so what. Those are not the children they care about. The GOP likes to be seen as doing, but they do precious little to help the average American much less their children. Seriously. Their policies provide relief to almost none of their voters. That gigantic tax break that the previous administration enacted? It benefitted only those at the top of the financial food chain and did little if any good for the rest of us. They ignore that more than 60% of Americans (including many of their voters) agree that abortion should be legal. They want to raise the retirement age, wipeout social security for tens of millions of Americans who have no other source of income, as well as to deregulate industries which leads to problems as we have seen with the railroad and the inevitable deaths that come with throwing the rule book out the window.

Living in the land of the free should not come with a list of who can participate and who cannot and should not require each of us to blend in with the person standing next to us. Humanity is beautiful in all of its iterations. And, what is considered abnormal is just another version of who we can be given the freedom to which we are entitled.

If you live in one of the states looking to criminalize transgender individuals, send state to 50409 and lobby your officials to vote no on this harmful legislation. And, if you do not know what to say, take a look at what others in the Resistbot community are saying to their leadership by checking out these petitions:

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