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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.

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