Season 13 of RuPaul’s Drag Race is Finally Over with a Surprisingly Satisfying Ending

Plus, we talk about big issues and hot topics throughout the season.

RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 has FINALLY come to a conclusion, after the longest season to date, and to my surprise, it had a pretty good ending. 

At the end of my last article, local drag queen Ana Lee Kage had said, “Gay people are over, it’s about trans people. I believe that firmly. Gay people, our story has been told a million times, we need to hear more trans stories, we need more trans representation.” So, for this article, I specifically spoke with two transgender people to get their perspectives. The first was local drag queen and transgender nonbinary person Kay Bye (they/them), and the second was my close friend Sam Winsor (he/they), who is a transgender man.

For the Drag Race Season 13 Finale, I ventured out to Sun Trapp, where Kay Bye hosts Drag Race watch parties every week, and I had so much fun! I had a great time watching the show with a little (socially distanced, mask wearing) crowd. Plus, Kay Bye was a fantastic host, cracking jokes during the commercial breaks, and finishing off their hosting duties for the night with an amazing back to back lip sync of Nicki Minaj’s ‘Roman’s Revenge’ and Lizzo’s ‘Juice.’ We headed to the Sun Trapp’s patio for a long chat about all things drag and Drag Race.

**SPOILER WARNING: We’re talking about the second half of Season 13 and the finale of RuPaul’s Drag Race. If you haven’t seen the results and don’t want to ruin it for yourself, catch up, then come on back here!**

Alisha Ann: So, tell me about Kay Bye. Tell me all the things about Kay Bye. Who are they?

Kay Bye: Kay Bye is originally from Southern California. I moved to Utah to be with family. 

AA: I respect that. 

KB: With the art of drag, I don't need to know biology to crossdress and wear lipstick. The only thing that I learned in high school that I apparently needed was geometry to learn how to sew a circle skirt. But fortunately, now, I am blessed with enough [drag performance] bookings that, if I need an outfit with a circle skirt, I can just pay someone instead of having to try and learn geometry. [...] I would say Kay Bye is the self-proclaimed glamour muppet and costume queen of Salt Lake City.

AA: Cool. I like that. So, how have you felt about this whole season of Drag Race? It's been 90 years long. 

KB: Yes, yeah. Insert the GIF of whoever played old a** Rose in Titanic and she's just like, ‘it's been 87 years.’ But, I don't think it got dragged out. Basically, they only added one extra episode from what they did last year, which was to have half the girls for one episode and half the girls for another episode [for the season opener], then they had the double save. But they had that last season, too.

AA: Oh yeah, that’s true. 

KB: Plus the COVID special, which was the only thing I disagreed with [adding to the season].

Much like everyone else, I have had enough of this pandemic, and I skipped out on the COVID special because I didn’t want to watch more things about the pandemic. Kay Bye did have a great point about the impact of COVID on this season of Drag Race though

KB: With all due respect, I do commend these queens for coming on this season. For example, Kandy Muse had a black and white houndstooth outfit that was leftover fabric from a designer that had done a full 12 episode houndstooth line of outfits for Bob The Drag Queen when they were hosting The Pit Stop [the Drag Race recap show on the Drag Race Youtube Channel] last season. So, literally, Kandy Muse’s outfit was leftover scrap fabric from that because fabric stores weren’t open [during the early pandemic]. I can only imagine what it was like for these girls to not only have to contact and hire designers, but also to try to find fabric in places that don’t have fabric stores open or can’t find a certain fabric because of a prolonged wait on delivery, or whatever. Regardless of if they made the Top Four, if they won, if they went home first, whatever, they spent a budget during the pandemic and I commend them for that. 

AA: Yeah, that's so stressful, and they did so good for everything they put together. 

KB: A lot of the girls like Kahmora Hall and Joey Jay went home first and second. They were still showing off their looks [on Instagram] that they would have worn on the runway. So, not only have they paid for that look, but they've also paid a photographer to take photos of each look. Even though these b**ches went home first or second or third or fourth or whatever. They spent a whole budget, and they still can’t tour [so they aren’t making that money back].

A hot topic being discussed online and in the Drag Race fandom throughout the season has been the cost of getting on Drag Race. No other reality competition show requires you to bring your own package - your wardrobe, shoes, hair, makeup, accessories, and anything else you might need to compete. Some of these drag queens are estimated to spend upwards of $20,000 - $30,000, if not more, on their package to compete on the show. Drag queens like Kameron Michaels and Miz Cracker, from Drag Race Season 10, have semi-jokingly said they spent more on their package for Drag Race than they did on the downpayment for a house and for their college degree. 

AA: Speaking of having a budget, Vice did an article that came out last week talking to queens that have been on Drag Race about how much they spent on their drag for the show. Do you feel like a queen that doesn't have that kind of money has a chance? Because we have people like [Season 12 Miss Congeniality] Heidi N Closet that didn't have a lot of money. She said she was making $9,000 a year working at a gas station in her hometown of Ramseur, North Carolina, and had some friends give her money and help make her outfits. And that's all she had.

KB: I definitely think there's this misconception that if you go on Drag Race and you have all these amazing gorgeous looks, that you've had the money. But look at queens like, rest in power, ChiChi Devayne, on Season 8. They were working, I think two jobs at the time, correct me if I'm wrong, they were like a grocery store bagger. They brought glamour and they didn't have the money that some of the other girls did. Or [Season 11 Winner] Yvie Oddly said very early on in this season, ‘When are we going to stop commending these queens for [outfits they had made by designers] versus crowning the actual designers that made the outfit?’ Because a lot of times, unfortunately, it's become a trend [to have custom, designer outfits made], not to knock any of these queens that have used these designers, but they have used these designers, and you can tell, ‘Oh, that’s an Abraham Levy, oh that’s a Marco Marco.’ 

AA: Even watching [the podcast] Sibling Watchery on YouTube, [Season 8 Winner] Bob The Drag Queen and [All Stars Season 4 Winner] Monét X Change talk about that issue. I actually like that they do point out the designers of each outfit on the runway when they review the runway looks because then you realize there are like maybe 10 designers that these drag queens really lean on, and I don't necessarily feel like you're like getting to see what the queens are making as much as you're seeing what these designers are making at this point. 

KB: Yeah, I can only imagine how much some of these girls have spent on the package. Yvie Oddly is the one who brought up that designer [outfits] are continuously seen, but Yvie Oddly maybe only had their final look made by a designer?

AA: Yeah in that Vice article, I think she said she had like two looks made, and then she made the rest of it and tried to upcycle fabric and thrift shop fabric and stuff like that.

KB: And she won season 11, so you don't have to have all this money. You just have to have a good, creative look. Chi Chi Devayne made it to Top Four on Season 8 and on to All Stars without all this money.

In addition to the Vice article discussing the cost of Drag Race, Youtuber Bussy Queen did a video breaking down what is included in the contract to compete on Drag Race. Let me tell you, it’s a lot. Appearances, additional seasons of the show, tours, the contract asks the queens who compete on the show to make a big commitment that is years long on top of spending so much to bring drag that will get them to the Finale. Drag Race isn’t the end all be all of drag for local queens. All Stars 3 Winner Trixie Mattel says it best, ‘You can be good at drag and not good at Drag Race and you can be good at Drag Race and not good at drag.’ Kay explained why some drag queens stay local.

AA: Did you watch the Bussy Queen video about the new Drag Race contract? What did you think of that? Drag Race is like an investment, kind of, because that contract has a lot in it.

KB: My favorite question that I do get asked, ‘my favorite’ being sarcasm, is, ‘So when are you going to be on Drag Race?’

AA: Oh, yeah, that's kind of annoying. (Writer’s note: For real, don’t ask local drag queens this question. Support local drag for being local drag!)

KB: My reply is, ‘When they cast me.’ Because I do know the rules of the show. They do not cast girls that are openly saying, "Oh, I'm auditioning. Here's my audition tape!" So, I'm not confirming or denying if I have auditioned for the show, just for my own wellbeing. [...] If you think of it this way, America loves drama. So, when you look at other seasons of Drag Race, Drag Race Canada, or Drag Race UK, it seems more authentic because these girls are just being genuine. They're here to compete. Where, no shade to any of these queens on the American seasons of Drag Race, but it just seems very produced to create a character [which can create a harmful false narrative about who the queens are as real people]. Kandy Muse got so much hate and people were coming to me while I’m hosting shows and saying, ‘Oh, I'm ready for Kandy Muse to go home. She's loud.’ Guess what, b**ch? I’ve got a microphone, so I'm ten times louder than her right now, and you've just pissed me off so I'll be ten times as loud in your f**king face. Elliot was loud. Utica was f**king annoying [and no one said anything about them]. I mean, can I get into it?

Throughout the season, racism was an overarching issue. From fans mistreating Kandy Muse, an Afro Latino drag queen, for being ‘too loud and too obnoxious’ and sending Kandy and her mom hate messages online, to Elliott with 2 T’s getting nicknamed Elliott with 3 K’s for saying one of her runway outfits was inspired by a racist character from the movie ‘The Wiz’ and making racially derogatory comments towards Symone in interviews, racism and the mistreatment of queens of color has had an impact on this season. 

AA: About Elliott with 3 K’s? Go for it. 

KB: [Elliott is] a white person saying that [her] yellow runway is an inspiration of a taxi cab in a movie that is a Black version of The Wizard of Oz that does not pick up passengers of color. It is inherently racist. [She] may not realize it. [She] can say [she] loves The Wiz all [she] wants, but the moment that you are a white person saying that you are cosplaying a taxi cab that will not pick up queens or people of color, you are adding to the problem that the character [demonstrated] in the movie.

AA: I felt like it was racist, just on a number of levels of her being very ignorant.

KB: It was like an interview where [Elliott] said, Symone is Black excellence without it being aggressive. It wasn't [Elliott’s] intention, but what [she’s] basically saying is when someone is so proudly Black, they're aggressive about it. 

AA: I just feel like that's a weird takeaway to have from Symone, too, because she is so unapologetically Black.

KB: I want to take a moment to say, I am a queen of color. I'm not 100% Black. My father's Jamaican, my mom is part Creole, mostly white. That is a part of me, there's never a day that I look at myself and I go, ‘Oh, I'm white-passing. So I'm fine.’ No, I speak up just as loud if not louder, because I have to. If I am white-passing, so be it. I will use my voice, just as loud as the next person because [mistreating queens of color] is not right. I felt so disgusted one day when someone looked at me and said, ‘Oh, you're so sexy. Your tan is so sexy. Where do you get your tan?’ I had to look at him and go, ‘This is my skin. This is not a tan. I don't sit out in the sun. I don't go to a tanning booth. This is my skin.’ To be called a liar to my face, ‘Oh, no, you're lying,’ felt disgusting at that moment. As someone that is mixed race and I'm being told you basically perceived me as someone who was white that has a nice tan in your image is not okay. What If I was a little bit pigmented darker? How would you treat me? Would you be flirting with me then? I get that I am mixed, I'm not fully Black, but I am a proud, mixed Black person of color and I speak out on issues [like this].

Here’s the biggest spoiler of all. If you haven’t seen the finale or social media in the past week and don’t want to have the season spoiled, this is your last chance to stop reading this article and go watch the Drag Race Season 13 Finale then come back when you’re done. You’ve been warned! Kay Bye and I are about to go off, finishing each other’s sentences, about how amazing this season’s winner is.

We have a winner! Symone is the winner of RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13. These outfits aren’t even half of what Symone wore, but they are some of mine and Kay Bye’s favorite outfits from the show. Check out the rest of Symone’s outfits on her Instagram, @the_symone.

AA: I also want to talk about Symone because she won and she was just all about Black culture and celebrating Blackness and Black joy, and having a moment of respecting Black trauma on the runway, and she's just been so Black throughout the season. I think it was really cool to see that kind of representation because obviously, there have been a lot of Black queens on Drag Race, but I don't think, in my recollection, we've gotten to see this exhibition of Blackness.

KB: I've never seen such an unapologetically Black queen. Someone that is [...] going on that runway, and not scared to be wearing an outfit with gunshots in her back and a fascinator [that read], ‘Say Their Names.’ Symone was like, ‘I'm gonna bring the issues to you, America, and you're gonna realize these types of issues.’

AA: Yeah. Or even like looking at like her durag runway - 

KB: Going back to Elliot with 3 K's, she called the durag runway ratchet.

AA: Oh, man. Elliott with 3 K's is the worst. [Symone’s durag] runway was so smart and well done. The garment was so well made and beautiful. The color was really pretty. I loved seeing that.

KB: I grew up in California, I grew up in South Central. Seeing Symone tonight in the black and white dress, she had bandanas embroidered in the outfit. [...] Bandanas are very much like a Black culture thing again.

AA: I even loved that she did that hair show piece even though it was for that makeover challenge. She put - 

KB: Oh! Utica in the outfit inspired by [the movie] BAPs, which stands for a Black African Princess, with Halle Berry!

AA: Which I thought was rad. Even like, oh, man, even the beaded piece that she wore with her hair braided. That - 

KB: It spelled out her name!

AA: Yeah it spelled out her name. I just think that she had such a unique perspective, which I don't think we get to see in Drag Race a lot right now.

KB: I have had many conversations with caucasian individuals when it comes to dreads or cornrows [and natural Black hairstyles]. You have to understand that you can Google ‘unacceptable workplace hairstyles,’ and you will see Black hairstyles in the [examples]. But for a lot of Black people, they put their hair in that style to protect their hair. We have different textured hair. I have very Afro-textured hair and I need oils in my hair. [...] You don't understand what [Black] people have to do to preserve their hair. The texture of our hair is so much f**king work.

AA: Yeah. And that's what I think I loved about [Symone] so much is that you get to see all these like uniquely Black perspectives and Black culture-inspired outfits and Black hairstyles. I think Symone had so much unique perspective. Even in her Top Four [runway], the purple dress, that hair was beautiful, the cornrows with the jewelry in between the braids, she showed that Black is beautiful.

As briefly mentioned in my last article, Season 13 of Drag Race featured the series’ first-ever openly transgender male competitor, Gottmik. Both Kay Bye and my friend Sam are transgender individuals. Kay Bye is transgender nonbinary, and Sam is a transgender man. Seeing Gottmik compete on the show and do so well (she finished in the Top Four, losing the second round finale lip-sync to Symone), and talk about their personal experience as a trans man and drag queen, was very impactful to both Sam and Kay personally and a huge moment for trans representation in media. Sam grew up here in Utah, we have been friends since we were teenagers. Sam has done drag in the past and is now a model and performer. Now, Sam lives in Austin, TX, so we did a video chat to catch up about Drag Race after the season finale, trans issues, and more.

AA: Tell me all about Samson Winsor. Give me the 411.

Sam Winsor: Well, I'm a trans man. I'm 26 years old. I live in Austin. Right now my job titles are Director of Consulting for a DEI startup firm, and then I also am doing some freelance dancing and modeling stuff as well. I feel like I've been working more in film since getting here. The plan was to get into music, it's still the plan, but film is what's also paying the bills. I'm a musician that's been working on an album for a couple of years now. I'm just a queer. I'm definitely queer, pansexual, bisexual, whatever y'all want to call it. 

AA: So this season, for the first time ever, there is an openly transgender man on RuPaul's Drag Race. There have been transgender women on the show in the past, some were not or could not be open about it until later, either later in their season or after the show had aired they had come out. So this is a big first. What do you think of the media representation of seeing like a transgender man? 

SW: In the context of just seeing a trans man doing anything, and with such overwhelming support, it honestly and seriously shook me. I thought people were kidding when they were talking about a trans man being on Drag Race because, I'm not gonna lie, at first I was like, ‘Wait, what? Seriously?’ It was kind of nerve-wracking, that representation is huge because we are so [unseen in media] as trans men or transmasculine people. My first reaction was like concern for [Gottmik] for being on RuPaul[‘s Drag Race] because Drag Race has a history of transphobic crap against some of the contestants. [In the past, RuPaul] has said some transphobic things, some of the queens [and fans] have been really vicious. As nervous as I was for [Gottmik], I'm really pleasantly surprised to see how much support he’s gotten. I'm not surprised to see how far he got though because that talent alone was huge. Getting the news [that Gottmik was on the show] and seeing that we are changing the way that people remember what drag is about was really warm and welcoming. You perform as a woman for years, and you grow to like aspects of it, like the femininity and self-expression, and so much of it isn't really tied to your gender, but it's tied to your artistry or performance. RuPaul’s Drag Race has always been about, ‘we're all born naked and [the rest] is drag.’ That's so true. Trans people invented drag, this is our cultural impact. It was really cool that we're seeing more and more trans people, not just trans women, but trans men [in media], it made me feel so validated. In the past, when I was doing drag, I felt like I had to do drag king kind of stuff. No one ever put me in that box, I think that was a box I put myself in. So to see [Gottmik, as a transgender man] go in as a drag queen, and do that so fearlessly and have that kind of representation for our community [matters].

AA: I liked that Gottmik spent so much time making sure people knew drag is her artistry and he is still a masculine trans man. He talked about, at the beginning of the competition in the first challenge, that he wrote a line in his song verse that was, ‘Gottmik was born a girl, baby.’ Then, during rehearsal, he felt some gender dysphoria because he hadn't told the other contestants that he was trans. It's kind of an awkward thing for Gottmik because you could tell that he was in an uncomfortable position, but do you think it's important for people to see kind of what gender dysphoria can look like for different people?

SW: I think that representation definitely has its advantages. I do feel like a lot of the media just wants to see trans suffering and promote that like that's what we're known for [even though that’s not all we are]. [...] So, for Gottmik to be open about dysphoria, and specifically about coming out, I think it helps normalize and show people that you don't just see trans people like we're noticeable on the street. We're everywhere and I think that it helps really break down this idea that you can catch someone looking trans like, ‘Oh, you don't *look* trans,’ whatever the hell that's supposed to mean. For him to talk about that and to make it part of his performance was especially brave. I think he also did that because his drag is his artistry and he also puts himself in his art. That's why he's talking about his background. It was just really major for him to come out that way, I think for so many f**king reasons. 

AA: But for the one big moment of Gottmik discussing gender dysphoria on the show, there were also so many more really positive moments of him talking about his identity. He mentioned that he loves to have his chest out now and he wears a lot of outfits with the pasties because he has had his top surgery, and he feels really good about his body. Do you think that seeing a transgender person that is living their life and having a good time and feeling good about themselves has a big impact?

SW: It's so good to see, seeing Gottmik validates so many difficult feelings [I have had]. Imagine what Gottmik felt like after getting top surgery and feeling so much more comfortable in your own body. I really do feel like when you are comfortable in your own body, your art does come through. When you feel more in line with your body, look what can happen! For me when I had top surgery and then I started doing more drag shows in feminine drag with the underground crowd, I remember going to get bras to stuff. It was like this oddly gender-affirming moment where I was like, ‘I have to stuff a bra ‘cause I don't have boobs b*tch!’ [...] We also need to see more positive trans stories, like I saw a clip of Gottmik's parents talking to [him on the show]. That meant everything because we need to normalize families being supportive like that. Not all of us have that. It kind of gives us some hope. [It’s a good example that transgender identities] are not symptomatic of like a failed home life or whatever bullsh*it transphobic people want to perpetuate, or that parents supporting their transgender kids is dangerous. Gottmik’s parents love their kid, they supported their kid. Seeing a trans person's family support him [sets a good example].

AA: Gottmik is so talented, how do you not support her? I was convinced she was going to win, I said that in a message to you before the finale, but I’m not even mad that Symone won. Symone and Gottmik both showed up and had a unique perspective and knew who they were and had a message and knew what they came here to say. They were there to compete, but they also brought so much of themselves, so to have either of them win was very exciting.

SW: Yes, I'm really glad that Gottmik has such a positive attitude about not winning, especially because, despite being trans, he's still a privileged white male. I think that is a good example of what the most privileged among trans people should be doing. We should be supporting our Black brothers, sisters, and nonbinary siblings. We're supposed to be uplifting each other. [...] I'm really glad that we're in a place where Black queens, and queens of color, are being supported and uplifted like this. It underlines the importance of intersectionality. I feel like you can't talk about trans people, or trans progress, without also talking about Blackness being celebrated and talking about Black queens being uplifted and winning what they f**king deserve. [Gottmik] did an amazing thing for the community [being represented in media]. That will not be taken away, no matter who won the competition. He won for all of us, we all won seeing him.

There has been a lot of misinformation about transgender people, particularly transgender youth, spread around by politicians and hate groups this year targeting transgender youth in sports and life-saving gender-affirming healthcare for trans youth through anti-trans legislation across the country. Right here in Utah, there were two anti-trans legislation bills that, thankfully, did not pass. Representation matters, and more importantly, accurate and positive representation matters, especially when normalizing the acceptance of marginalized identities like transgender people. I talked with both Kay and Sam about the impact that seeing someone like Gottmik represented so positively on a big, mainstream media, cable television show like Drag Race can have on how regular people understand and perceive transgender people.

AA: I'm thinking about this last legislative session, across the country, there have been so many anti-trans bills that have come up, like the transgender girl sports ban and bills that ban gender-affirming care for transgender youth. What do you think it does for transgender representation for the average person to see somebody like Gottmik on TV and talking openly about their identity? Because obviously, trans people aren't a monolith, but seeing what an actual trans person is like can help normalize trans identities and aid acceptance. 

KB: I have to give credit to queens before me because I'm not the first openly trans person in Salt Lake City. You have your London Skies, you have your Treasure Barbie, you have Tara Flesh, who have all been speaking about this much longer than I have. It wasn't until just recently, maybe back in September, that I came to terms with my self identity. [Having Gottmik on the show] is only a step forward. To have an openly trans contestant like Gottmik [is progress]. It's just brought more awareness to transgender people. The reason why I'm so passionate is not to just shove it in your face and be like, ‘hey, guess what? I'm half Black,’ or ‘hey, identify as trans.’ No. It's to bring awareness because people [don’t know about transgender people and how trans people are mistreated and murdered because of transphobia]. I don't want to say, ‘I got you. I got you on Candid Camera!’ But this is the reality of the situation, it's not gumdrops and lollipops. This is stuff in real life. And if you don’t know about that, how fortunate for you, you've lived a sheltered life.

AA: Exactly. So, you have to realize that anti-trans legislation and rhetoric are a problem. There are people that have been so sheltered they don't know a trans person. They don't know those experiences, they only know what they hear and see in the media. So, they kind of have to be open to listening to positive examples through representation of people like Gottmik. 

KB: I am a millennial, then there’s the TikTok generation with Gen Z, but I feel like the generation after that, whatever letter comes after the alphabet, whatever they are, they're lucky [because they get to see representation]. My niece just turned eight, I think my nephew's 12. They just found out that I'm trans nonbinary, and that I use they/them pronouns. They also, and I may be using the wrong terms just because I don’t know how they may identify, have my sister's ex-husband, who is trans. So, my niece and nephew have two moms. [...] Not only do my niece and nephew get to experience their [immediate family member] becoming a woman but also their uncle transitioning to being trans nonbinary and they’ve been growing up with me doing drag. So, I feel like their generation, like, baby, it's gonna be their generation [that understands this].

AA: Having open representation and seeing people like you or people like Gottmik normalizes different identities. So, it's easier for people to come to terms with their gender identity and/or sexuality because there are no hard lines of being like, ‘well, you shouldn't be like that,’ or ‘these are the two options.’

KB: Yeah. My nephew grew up liking My Little Pony. There was never a moment where I thought, ‘He's gonna be [gay or trans].’ The kid likes My Little Pony! Yeah, so what? Yeah, and I like pom pom slippers. So what?

AA: I did want to talk about the fact that there's been a record number of anti-trans legislation bills across the country, which is a super bummer. When we look at Drag Race, this is something that is very mainstream at this point. It has a big following. This is an Emmy award-winning television show with millions of viewers, both nationally and internationally. Do you think it matters, for the average person that doesn't know anything about trans people, to see somebody like Gottmik on this mainstream television show to help them understand who a real trans person is and what they are like?

SW: I think it does matter. If you look at media in general, I would say the majority of Americans get their ideas about trans people from media. So, they only know the Ace Ventura jokes. They only know the cross-dressing like horror stories that were perpetuated by Hollywood and ideas started by racists in film. Racism, misogyny, homophobia, and transphobia kind of just go hand in hand. Prejudice, for being about judgment, ironically doesn’t give a sh*t. You cannot be transphobic without also being probably racist or sexist. I'll say it straight.

AA: I think if you marginalize one group, inevitably, you probably marginalize all of them.

SW: Yeah. Look at what Black trans women experience. They're like, ‘Are you mistreating me because I'm Black or mistreating me because I'm trans? Are you mistreating me because I'm a woman?’ It could be yes to all of that. No matter what, I do think that while the representation matters, we need to keep having it, we need to keep having more trans people shown in all spaces. We're not just queer icons, we're [also everyday people]. I've noticed that, and this is through no fault of Gottmik or drag culture, one of the unfortunate things that we have to plan for is that any time trans people are represented in media, we have to be ready for an avalanche of controversy for whatever bullsh*t people make up about trans people. They reach into thin air like, ‘look, a bullsh*t thing to say,’ and then they grab it and run with it.

AA: I think we saw that a lot with those anti-trans youth in sports bills. People were making up information like trans women are stronger than regular women when, in reality, after trans women have been transitioning on hormone treatment for more than a year, they have the same muscle mass as cisgender women. 

SW: Just let them play sports and learn good things, and have structure and socialize. No matter what you say about trans people, or for trans children, transphobic people don't care [about the facts]. So, I feel like to argue for your own humanity, you have to center it on somebody else. You have to tell them that when they argue against trans girls playing sports, they’re basically saying that the boys are better than your girl at soccer, you're saying it wouldn't be fair to her because boys are just inherently better at sports. That's the message you're sending. 

AA: There's a lot of misogyny within that argument, it's always focused on trans women and never on trans men. They never say a girl shouldn't play football with the boys’ team in the context of transgender boys. That conversation never goes the other way. It's always, ‘there's a boy playing with the girls’ soccer team.’ They're not a boy, this is a transgender girl that we're talking about, not a boy. There’s even been a 300% increase in the murders of trans women of color in the first four months of 2021. People don't understand when you start having conversations about legislating a trans person’s existence and their body and you have a lot of misinformation in that space, that does bleed down to just an average person being very uncomfortable about trans people and lashing out of them. I feel like it was important to have somebody like Gottmik to show you an actual trans person on a famous TV show. This is what an actual trans person is like. It's not all these scary stories that you've made up in your head, or that you've heard on the news from politicians and transphobic hate groups. 

SW: It's literally never been about water fountains. It's never been about bathrooms. It's never been about sports. It's never been about changing our legal name. [It’s been about misogyny and transphobia.] It's so cool to seek someone like Gottmik step into that kind of power with that kind of platform. Like you said millions of viewers, 18 seasons of this show, [that representation matters].

Both Sam and Kay Bye were so great to give me their time to share not only their opinions about this TV show, but were also open to being vulnerable and sharing their stories, identities, and perspectives they have as trans people. Before wrapping up with both of them I asked if there was anything else they wanted to share. 

AA: Anything else you’d like to share with me, Sam?

SW: I wanted to tell you that on a personal note about Gottmik, his performance and his visibility on-screen helps me feel visible and like I’m able to go forward and try out for things. Ever since I found out who [Gottmik] was, I felt so confident and I tried out to be in a CHIKA music video ad and I got picked! So we did that like, and then I was like, ‘Sweet, trans representation is happening.’ [Gottmik] is a huge domino on a large scale media level, but also for me, personally, [seeing him] gave me the confidence to move forward. I'm just really excited to see more trans men, more trans masculine people do sh*t. I just shot an ad where there's a scene where I'm with another transmasculine person being kind of romantic, and I don't think I've ever seen that on-screen. It's just crazy that it just takes like one f**king person to change your perspective, to change your life, to change how you see yourself. Trans men have been looking for that everywhere. Now we get to see each other and that's so cool. 

AA: Is there anything else you’d like to share with me Kay Bye, about you, about drag, about the show? 

KB: If you would like to follow my journey as a nonbinary crossdresser you can follow me on all social media platforms @TheOnlyKayBye, which is also the same as my Venmo.

AA: So tip the queen!

Hopefully, you enjoyed RuPaul’s Drag Race Season 13 as much as we did! Getting to write about the show and talk with local drag queens and LGBTQ+ folks has been such a fun experience. Thank you so much to Meg and Hive Mind for giving me a platform to share these stories.

I wanted to provide some resources on supporting trans people if you’re looking to learn more about how you can be inclusive. 

  • The National Center for Transgender Equality has this amazing guide on how to support trans people and be a good ally. 

  • When you hear about anti-transgender legislation being considered, please call and email your state legislators. Transgender people are a very small marginalized group. They need support from as many people as possible to help stop harmful legislation. Utah may have dropped the two pieces of anti-trans legislation from this session, but the local officials that drafted the transgender girls in sports ban said they may try to bring that back in the next legislative session. When local officials see and hear opposition to that type of legislation from the community in support of trans people, it helps stop bills like the trans youth sports ban and the trans youth healthcare ban. Action Utah has this quick guide to find your legislators’ contact information. 

  • If you would like to learn more about trans representation in media, Disclosure is a documentary about the history and impact of trans people in media. The film was featured at Sundance Film Festival 2020, and is now available on Netflix.

You can follow me on Twitter, @_alisha_ann, for content about local news, movies and TV, music, and cats. Lots of cats.

Kay Bye performs at The Quorum of the Queens drag shows and is hosting a weekly watch party of the brand new series Drag Race Down Under (the Australian version of Drag Race) every Saturday at 6:00 pm at Sun Trapp. You can follow them on social media (and tip them on Venmo) at @TheOnlyKayBye.