Yesterday I released a video about drag queen storytime for children. If you haven’t seen that video yet, there’s a link in the comments. 

Go watch it first then come back here. I’ll wait for you.

Like so many topics, there will be disagreement and differences of opinions and it’s so important that we can discuss and express those disagreements. That is the common theme throughout all of my videos. I believe there are many reasons to be pretty uncomfortable with drag queen storytime, but if you disagree and feel that drag exposure is crucial to childhood development then I want to hear your thoughts. After all, your opinion matters too.

Side note: In the comments in part one there was an individual who attempted to defend drag story hour by likening it to Paw Patrol in a comparison that I still cannot get my head around. 

Twitter comments are a very weird space to inhabit.

When it comes to drag queen story time, there are so many angles to the discussions. There is whether or not they should be permitted, and if so, should they be supported by public funding. There is the discussion of whether these drag events achieve their stated goal of increasing LGBT acceptance. And, recently, there is the discussion of whether or not these events should have special protection to ensure their future viability.

In the first video I explored why drag queen story time does not do any real benefit in LGBT acceptance for actual trans people. Equating transgender individuals and drag queens is offensive, and if our objective really is to increase empathy towards individuals like me then this is the absolute wrong way to do it.

After last week however, this conversation got a whole lot more serious. A few days ago, the Ontario NDP party brought forward proposed legislation that would make it illegal to protest drag queen story time events. Similar legislations have been proposed in other jurisdictions as well.

This makes me furious, and that is why I made yesterday’s video. 

These legislations are purportedly being tab led on ‘human rights’ grounds. What human rights are purportedly being protected here? Being a drag queen is NOT a sexual or gender identity. It’s at best an occupation, carried out for performative and entertainment purposes.

This doesn’t mean drag performances are inherently bad, but human rights protection… what!?

Acting like drag is an identity to be protected has become the natural extension of equating drag with transgender individuals. This is way over the line. And it’s so important that we get this straight. Because acting like the right to perform any drag show, let alone kiddie drag show, is somehow a human right that needs to be protected for the sake of the drag performer is absurd.

I want to emphasize here just how offensive this is. I have been gender dysphoric as long as I can remember. I spent the first 28 years of my life trying to make living as a man work. I really wanted to make it work. I was miserable, and I was a pretty horrible person to be around because I had chosen to sidestep happiness and authenticity.

At 28 years old I began my social, hormonal, and surgical transition. It was expensive, painful, and involved significant medical risk. 

And then we have drag.

I’ll remind you that in 2018 RuPaul contentiously compared transgender women’s use of estrogen to feminize their bodies to an athlete who might take performance enhancing drugs to perform better in their sport. He inferred that people like me are ‘cheaters’ because I have been on estrogen and it would give an unfair ‘advantage’ in drag performance.

Cheaters? See, the problem is that the drag industry conceives of this as a game, or a sport, or some sort of competitive activity. Which for drag, it absolutely is.

For unremarkable transgender individuals like myself, this is just everyday life. The human rights protection argument works because I am looking for the right to exist, and to go to work, and to raise my family. In other cases where protests have been restricted, it’s been in relation to an individual’s bodily autonomy and their right to make highly personal medical decisions for themselves and their own future.

The human rights argument for the protection of drag story hour on the other hand has no substance behind it.

Now, at this point I need to remind you of something. It almost sounds like we are discussing whether or not we should ban drag queen storytime. But that’s not actually the conversation we are having anymore. As of this week, the conversation has now shifted to whether it should be legal for Canadians to even be able to publicly express concerns with these events.

Some people don’t like kiddie drag shows. I am one of those people. And in Canada, when people have concerns, they have the right to peacefully protest. We do this all the time. Unions do this. Political activist groups do this. Sometimes these protests are not even about issues in Canada and are in support or opposition of larger world affairs.

Protests are important and the ability to have these conversations is paramount. Some people take protests too far and it’s entirely appropriate to crack down on protests that cross into hateful or violent rhetoric and behaviour. But we already have laws in place to control protest that involves hate speech or causes a disturbance. We don’t need drag story hour specific protection.

I should make a quick note here that I am referring to ‘actual’ hate speech. That term has been grossly misappropriated in and some activists have begun deriding almost anything critical of anything to do with gender diversity as hateful. I’ll preparing another video about the misappropriation of hate that I’ll be released next week.

This legislation is written so broadly that it could—and probably would—be applied to contexts far wider than drag story hour.

Have you read this bill? One of the elements that would be banned is described as:

engaging in a protest or demonstration for the purpose of furthering the objectives of homophobia and transphobia.

This sounds reasonable on the surface, right? Who wants to allow homophobia and transphobia. I certainly don’t.

Except we have a problem—we don’t really know what those words mean anymore because activists are labelling everything that’s remotely critical of gender ideology as ‘transphobic’. The way this word is sometimes being used now doesn’t just encompass contempt towards transgender people like me, it can refer to anything critical of gender ideology.

You have concerns about some of the ways sex and gender are being taught in school—transphobia.

You would like to have conversations about our ever-changing use of language surrounding male and female bodies? Transphobia

 And yes, you perhaps don’t love the idea of your five-year-old being exposed to over-the-top regressive feminine stereotypes when browsing your local public library. – Transphobia.

I’ve been called transphobic, and I’ll remind you that I am transgender. I have a vested interest in protecting the rights of transgender individuals, and that’s why I am putting myself in public to have this conversation. Because unremarkable transgender individuals like myself are not helped when we are propped up as the beneficiaries of ridiculous legislation such as what the NDP has tabled.

So, to those who are propping up this proposed legislation as supportive of LGBT individuals, here’s what I’d like you to know. As a transgender woman, I am really bothered by drag queen story time. Its proliferation has caused confusion and misunderstanding of individuals like me and I believe that we do children a disservice by normalizing this ritual as our mechanism of highlighting diverse identities. I am so thankful that we live in a country where we have the ability to speak up against these sorts of issues and the legislation you are proposing is an affront to our liberal democracy. That’s bad enough, but doing it in the name of protecting me is  abhorrent.

Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.

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Julia Malott

Julia Malott is a Canadian based transgender individual who advocates for bridging the gap between diverse viewpoints on gender identity and ideology. Julia is the host of Alotta Thoughts Podcast which features bi-weekly long form discussions exploring the complexity of sex and gender.