Now, you've seen the casting announcement for the upcoming season 13 of RuPaul's Drag Race – and you already know the big gag of the season – and that's the casting of the show's first transgender man, GottMik (aka Mik). GottMik is the drag alter-ego of Hollywood makeup artist Kade Gottlieb, who also happens to be an out-and-proud transgender man. In the drag community, any performer assigned female at birth is referred to as a "bio queen", and GottMik is the show's very first. As far as trans queens competing goes, Drag Race (and their international versions) has had many transwomen competitors over the years, with Peppermint most notably being very out and open with her transition during her season.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, ahead of Drag Race's 13th season debut on VH1 (and other ViacomCBS networks) on New Year's Day, Gottlieb talks about what gender means to him and how drag has evolved with his journey out-of-drag. Though he auditioned prior, this is his first time submitting an audition to the show after officially transitioning. "Even though I'm cinched and lashed and gorge[ous], I'm feminine, but it's this weird alien thing, I don't want to look too pretty. Once I got more comfortable with myself out of drag, my drag character was able to actually be my art, and that's when I started taking it seriously."
When asked about the trans representation he saw, Gottlieb said, "The trans guys I saw weren't me. Too masculine, too straight…. I looked around like, all of my guy friends are so feminine, that means I can be feminine, too! When I realized that, it was game over."
Towards the end of the interview, the conversation turned to his look and his role as a representative for the trans community. "… Gender spectrum is really crazy, and I feel like me doing feminine drag is confusing to a lot of people. I want to show everyone that no matter what you transition to, boy or girl, there's a whole gender spectrum in between that you can play with and have fun with, and it doesn't mean that your identity is any less valid."
RuPaul has a little bit of history for creating friction in the trans community in regards to removing the emphasis on gendered pronouns and misgendering; he has also come under fire in the past for his and the show's use of anti-trans language and a lack of inclusion. However, progress is a door held open by change, and learning to change and adapt our behavior to listen to others is paramount, and RuPaul seems to get that.