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Doing drag and being transgender are not the same thing. Drag is a type of performance art. Transgender is a type of gender identity.

Drag performers make the act of expressing gender — through their stage name, clothing, makeup, hair, and how they perform on stage — highly creative, exaggerated, and/or theatrical. This is often (but not always) done through a theatrical style of cross-dressing. Many drag artists perform on stage as a character who has a different gender identity than their day-to-day life. 

Artists who perform in drag are often called drag queens, drag kings, or drag performers. Drag queens perform in hyper feminine costumes — often with glittery, colorful makeup. Drag kings perform in hyper masculine costumes — often with added facial hair.

A person of any gender identity can be a drag performer. Drag is known for being an art form that comments on gender norms in imaginative ways.  Sometimes this is done through lip-syncing, skits, comedy, impersonations, or dance. 

Being transgender, however, is not a performance. Transgender is a gender identity. Identifying as transgender is about who you are every day. Transgender people experience their gender in a way that’s different from the gender the doctor gave them on their birth certificate when they were born. In daily life, trans folks express their gender just like anybody else — through their name, pronouns, clothing, hairstyle, how they talk and move, and more. 

Mixing up doing drag with being transgender can be hurtful because it's a form of transphobia. Understanding the difference is a way to challenge transphobia and make our communities more welcoming for everyone. Learn more about how to support someone who's trans or nonbinary.

Tags: gender expression, drag 101, drag FAQ, drag dancer, drag entertainer, drag race, drag show, drag singer, drag story hour, drag storytelling, female impersonator, male impersonator, queer community, ru paul, sexual orientation, nonbinary

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