Trans drag queen urges RuPaul's Drag Race to scrap outdated gender rules



For over 14 years, RuPaul's Drag Race has graced tv screens with versions branching out across the globe including the popular UK addition. Despite this run and around 230 queens having appeared on each version, it is only more recently that the show has opened its doors to queens of different genders.

Since the UK version launched in 2019, an increasing number of queens have competed who don't identify as a man, something that was thought impossible in years past. Most recently the show featured its first openly trans woman Dakota Schiffer, who was an instant hit with fans.

Mirror reporter Danni Scott caught up with Dakota at RuPaul's Drag Con UK 2023 to discuss the future of Drag Race and her pivotal role in breaking down gender barriers.

L to R: Danni Scott, Dakota Schiffer at Drag Con UK 2023
Dakota Schiffer had one of the busiest booths at Drag Con UK 2023 (L to R: Danni Scott, Dakota Schiffer at Drag Con UK 2023) ( Owen Goulding/ Mirrorpix)

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"It was a lot of pressure going in and it's such a responsibility, I don't take it lightly," Dakota Schiffer told the Mirror. "It's difficult because there's a line between you wanting to represent the community right and you're also trying to represent yourself."

Dakota, real name Astrid Basson, entered the fourth season of RuPaul's Drag Race UK at 22-years-old and placed sixth with two challenge wins under her belt.

She came out at 15 and began performing her pastel coated fashion inspired drag in her teenage years but was off to a shaky start on the show.

In the first episode, Dakota found herself in the bottom having to lip sync for her life in what she describes as a "traumatic" experience. She said: "While I was doing the challenge, I was just thinking about going home first. Part of the reason it was so traumatic was that I can't be the first trans person on Drag Race UK and never get the speak on issues I want to speak about.

"Everyone got to go in thinking 'I'm gonna represent myself' but lots of people weren't thinking necessarily about representing a community for the first time ever and I had that over me."

Dakota Schiffer
The 23-year-old placed sixth in the competition and used the platform to discuss trans rights ( Owen Goulding/ Mirrorpix)

Her appearance on the show comes four years after head judge, host and icon of the drag world, RuPaul Charles, had to backtrack on comments made in the Guardian where he said he would "probably not" accept trans contenders. The 62-year-old said in 2018: "You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.

"It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing. We’ve had some girls who’ve had some injections in the face and maybe a little bit in the butt here and there, but they haven’t transitioned."

Quickly after backlash from LGBT+ fans, RuPaul said in a now deleted tweet: "Each morning I pray to set aside everything I think I know, so I may have an open mind and a new experience. I understand and regret the hurt I have caused.

"The trans community are heroes of our shared LGBTQ movement. You are my teachers."

Since this RuPaul has given more space on his global platform for queens who do not identify as a cis-gender males, that is someone who was assigned male at birth and still identifies that way.

Dakota is the first trans woman to appear on the UK show and one of a handful of queens to transition before competing in the Drag Race universe.

The fierce queen survived her first episode lip sync and went on to address key issues for the transgender community throughout the show. "Getting to talk about my coming out, my gender journey, my relationship with my femininity, my parent's support and feminine stereotypes in the community," she added.

"All those conversations meant the world to me. They were the reason I did Drag Race in the first place. I'm just so grateful."

A key moment on the show was her drag makeover of behind the scenes team member Lucy in which the pair discussed what it means to be feminine and a woman in drag. Despite leaving in this episode, Dakota had her community in mind as she shouted "trans rights" on her stage exit.

L to R: Danni Scott and Dakota Schiffer
Dakota told Mirror reporter Danni Scott that she hopes the show keeps diversifying ( Owen Goulding/ Mirrorpix)

Dakota firmly believes the future of drag is filled with more gender diversity, saying: "It's only a positive trajectory. I think there's lots of calls for it and some people say it's come too late.

"At the same time, the fact that we sit here now and we've had so much representation. Yes, there always can be more but I'm just so grateful that I was given the opportunity."

The impact of the 23-year-old's appearance on the show was evident with constant queues all weekend at her booth at Drag Con. Parents were coming up to her with their trans children saying they "knew about [their] child's experience for the first time" thanks to her.

Dakota joked: "I haven't learnt how to process some of these stories. I want to cry my lashes off - I was up at 5am getting dressed just for people to tell me these amazing stories. It's been incredible."

While only half a year into her new found Drag Race fame, Dakota Schiffer has made an undeniable push through for other trans drag artists. It's not just for trans queens that the youngster is rooting for either, she said: "I hope that representation gets even wider here.

"We have to have all kinds of crazy drag artists, drag kings, any sort of drag artistry represented on that show because there's a place for it. And I think the response we'll see when that eventually does happen, it will be incredible.

"I'm certainly excited to see it and hopefully it's someday near in the future."

RuPaul's DragCon UK took place at ExCeL London from 6-8 January 2023. Tickets are on sale for RuPaul's DragCon LA now.

Season 15 of ‘RuPaul’s Drag Race’ is currently available exclusively in the UK via the streamer of all things drag, WOW Presents Plus, with new episodes dropping on Saturdays at 2am GMT. Subscribe at

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