Resources for preschool about problems with drag
December 25, 2018 12:40 PM   Subscribe

After my kid's preschool holiday show included a drag performance mocking the idea of a man in a dress, I would like resources to give to the school about why this is a problem.

I went to a holiday music performance at my kid's pre + elementary school. As a joking part of the show, a male cisgender teacher performed dressed up as a woman. He was mocking the idea of a man in a dress and the audience was laughing. At the time, I told one of the school leaders that I wasn't comfortable with my kid seeing that and we left.

The school principal has now apologized, but in a bewildered way that shows that they don't get the problem. I am going to ask that they do a training for the teachers on gender diversity, and address this with the kids at the school.

I would also like to give them something to read to get started. Ideally this would be something written for educators or a general audience that explains to the thoughtful but clueless why men mocking women in drag is sexist, homophobic, and transphobic. Could you help me with reading?

Note: if you think the drag performance is not a big deal and I should just let it go, this is not the question for you.
posted by medusa to Human Relations (6 answers total) 15 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I googled "a man in a dress isn't funny" and got a few hits on think pieces. I liked this one: A Boy in a Dress Isn't Funny Anymore. It ties the question very directly to the suicide rate for trans young adults.

This one is kind of basic but had some good stuff. Key pull quote:

"Cross-dressing for comedy may seem harmless, but for a whole community, it's not. If we are taught to laugh at men dressed as women, how the hell is that supposed to make the trans community feel?

If we're taught that men taking on feminine traits is funny and silly, how are they supposed to feel about themselves if they identify as more feminine? And if we're taught that femininity is an inherent butt of a joke, how are women and young girls supposed to feel about themselves?"
posted by gideonfrog at 1:16 PM on December 25, 2018 [32 favorites]

Best answer: Would you prefer resources for the position "Drag played as a joke isn't acceptable" or for "Cis people can't do drag at all"?

(In general, "It's not okay if it's a joke" is a more mainstream position, and the argument for it is much simpler, but it opens the door for them to be like "OH, we had NO IDEA that people would laugh, WINK WINK." "It's never okay for cis people" is a rarer position, you'll mostly hear it from trans/GNC people who are much more radicalized, and the argument for it tends to depend more on social justice concepts — but it draws a really bright line that people can't "oh I am shocked, shocked" their way around.)
posted by nebulawindphone at 2:47 PM on December 25, 2018 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Because of the season and that you don't have any location information in your bio, I wonder if the performance at the school was a pantomime dame? If so, perhaps starting via something like talking about this pantomime which is explicitly meant to be gender inclusive but still fun might be an 'in' for people who might otherwise have their hackles up?
posted by Vortisaur at 3:03 PM on December 25, 2018 [2 favorites]

Mod note: If you have had a comment deleted a couple times, "I should definitely post that comment again" is not the next thought you should act on. Cut it out.
posted by cortex (staff) at 6:33 PM on December 25, 2018 [23 favorites]

Best answer: I appreciate your taking these steps to protest and educate around this issue. If it would be helpful to order a culturally appropriate alternative, Michelle Tea started Drag Queen Story Hour in San Francisco and it has spread over the world.

Another good picture book is Morris Micklewhite and the Tangerine Dress.
posted by carrioncomfort at 5:48 AM on December 26, 2018 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: nebulawindphone, both of those would be helpful.
posted by medusa at 2:03 PM on January 9, 2019

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