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The Rise of AFAB Drag Queens in a Diverse Drag Universe

AFAB drag

While drag has been known as a predominantly male art form, where the boundaries of gender expression are joyously blurred, we can see a trend towards more gender expression and openness.

What is AFAB Drag?

Drag is known for captivating audiences with dazzling performances and transformative personas, and AFAB (Assigned Female at Birth) drag is no different. Once an unconventional presence in drag, AFAB individuals are stepping into the spotlight, challenging preconceived notions and reshaping the narrative.

Affectionately known as female queens or hyper queens, these trailblazers defy conventions, bringing a fresh perspective to the glittering world of drag.

Join us as we explore the phenomenon of AFAB drag, where gender knows no bounds and creativity reigns supreme.

History of AFAB Drag

One of the earliest and most pivotal moments in AFAB drag history unfolded in San Francisco in the 1990s with the introduction of “faux queen” pageants. Initially organised as a benefit for Diet Popstitute, these pageants were a significant turning point in the drag landscape.

It allowed cisgender women and nonbinary individuals to showcase their talents. These pageants led the way for the Klubstitute Kollective, which continued to raise funds and provide a space for performers who, at the time, were not always welcome in typical drag venues.

"Trans women, trans men, AFAB—which is assigned female at birth—and non-binary performers, but especially trans women of color, have been doing drag for literal centuries and deserve to be equally represented and celebrated alongside cis men."

AFAB Pioneers: Shaping Drag Culture

Drag emerged as an art form on the back of the vaudeville and cabaret scenes of the early 20th century. As it gained popularity, drag found its home in underground LGBTQ+ communities, such as ballroom, becoming a powerful vehicle for self-expression and a form of rebellion against societal norms.

Over the decades, many notable AFAB drag queens have been pivotal in the drag scene. Figures like Stormé DeLarverie, a legendary drag king, and Gladys Bentley, who defied gender expectations in the Harlem Renaissance, laid the groundwork for AFAB involvement in drag. These pioneers paved the way for the contemporary female and hyper queens now making waves in the drag scene.

In recent years, the drag scene has witnessed a transformative shift toward inclusivity. While RuPaul has previously had some very controversial opinions on women in drag, competitions and events, such as “RuPaul’s Drag Race”, have done a much better job of highlighting and celebrating the diversity within the drag community.

This change in opinion has increased visibility and has opened doors for AFAB performers, where creativity knows no gender boundaries.

afab culture

Societal Norms and Stereotypes in AFAB Drag

AFAB drag queens often find themselves navigating unique challenges shaped by societal norms and stereotypes.

One of the primary challenges faced by AFAB drag queens is the deeply ingrained societal expectation that drag is a performance art exclusive to cisgender males. This preconception can lead to misunderstandings and resistance, as some assume that femininity comes more naturally to AFAB individuals. Overcoming these stereotypes is a constant battle, requiring exceptional talent and a strong resolve to challenge preconceived notions within the drag community.

By addressing and dismantling stereotypes, these performers contribute to a more diverse and accepting drag culture. Challenges notwithstanding, femme queens play a crucial role in reshaping the narrative, proving that drag is an art form for all genders, transcending societal expectations and stereotypes.

Victoria Scone on Drag Race UK

In 2021, Victoria Scone, otherwise known as Emily Diapre, appeared on the third season of Drag Race UK. Her participation marked a groundbreaking moment as the first cisgender woman to compete on any season of Drag Race, and she later also appeared on season 1 of Canada’s Drag Race: Canada vs The World. Beyond her appearances, Victoria’s journey showcased the evolving and inclusive representation of drag artists on a global stage.

This breakthrough celebrated individual talent and opened doors for greater visibility and recognition of AFAB queens within the mainstream drag community.

Celebrating AFAB Drag

AFAB drag is more than a performance; it is a movement that continues to rewrite the narrative of drag culture. As we celebrate its rich history, we also acknowledge its ongoing influence, encouraging a more inclusive and accepting future for all members of the drag community.

As you read this, we ask that you explore and support AFAB drag queens.

We contribute to a more diverse and inclusive drag landscape by embracing their performances. Whether you’re a seasoned drag enthusiast or a newcomer, discovering and championing AFAB queens is an opportunity to celebrate the rich tapestry of drag culture.

So, let’s amplify their voices, applaud their talent, and collectively ensure that drag remains a space for everyone to shine. Female drag has come a long way, but there’s still much to be done.

We’ve included some examples of performers below, but do let us know of others you think should be added:

Nikki Halliwell (She/Her)

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