Was I dropped from a drag queen job for being a woman?

I was approached on social media by a company that was looking for drag queens to take part in a shoot for a big company. As I got further through the process, I found out it was for Virgin. I was asked for my measurements for costumes and they asked to see a photograph of me without my drag makeup. I sent that over, and within an hour I had an email back saying unfortunately they were going to have to drop me.

What had I done differently in the space of an email other than send a photo of myself? In a phone call, I was told it was because I was a woman. [Virgin Atlantic says that McFadyen was not rejected because she is female, but the final choices were based on “aesthetics, ethnicity, height and performance”.]

It is such a complex topic to try to unravel when you are playing around with gender. A lot of different people are part of the drag community – transgender, non-binary, gender fluid – and it is not as simple as saying you just want five male drag queens. Born women who identify as women have always done it, whether as drag kings or queens – known as bioqueens – and if you know our community well enough that you want to represent it, you will know that a huge part of it is equality.

I have had many young women contact me and say they are too nervous to try drag because they get grief. Drag is a play on gender constructs, norms and stereotypes. It challenges people, and it opens up a conversation. And a large part is its artistry. Women have just as much right to play with that as men. “She’s not transgender so she can’t do it” is such a backwards thing to say when women are also a marginalised group.

Sexist language and behaviour is so ingrained in our society that we no longer see it. It is in everything, and it has happened to me in 2018 in a liberal country. When you take away the drag, I was dropped from a job because I was a woman.

Lacey McFadyen, who performs as Lacey Lou, was talking to Emine Saner

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *