The cast of Season Four of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars was announced on Friday. The contestants for the Emmy-winning series will include Naomi Smalls, Monét X Change and Gia Gunn, a transgender performer.
Gunn’s inclusion came as a surprise following a controversial statement about transgender identity by RuPaul, the show creator, earlier this year.
In March, the drag legend told the Guardian, “You can identify as a woman and say you’re transitioning, but it changes once you start changing your body.”
He continued, “It takes on a different thing; it changes the whole concept of what we’re doing.”
Transwomen have competed on past seasons of the VH1 series. RuPaul, however, pointed to Season Nine participant Peppermint and said she hadn’t “really transitioned” because she didn’t have breast implants.
Several former contestants said RuPaul’s views were anti-trans, according to Buzzfeed. The drag veteran failed to acknowledge the differing transition stories, and that body modification is not what creates a trans identity.
RuPaul quickly clarified that people are not cast for the reality competition based on their gender identity.
“In the 10 years we’ve been casting Drag Race, the only thing we’ve ever screened for is charisma, uniqueness, nerve, and talent. And that will never change,” he tweeted.
Gunn appeared on the sixth season of RuPaul’s Drag Race and later revealed she began her transition with hormone replacement therapy.
Days following RuPaul’s comment, Gunn created a YouTube reaction video questioning if she would be excluded from future seasons.
“I honestly think RuPaul wants to keep the show representing the traditional definition of drag,” Gunn explained. “I respect that this is RuPaul’s decision, but at the end of the day I don’t feel that my transness has anything to do with me as an artist.”
On Friday, Gunn celebrated her addition to the Season Four cast writing, “I am so excited and thankful to now be sharing this next chapter in my life not only in my true skin but also with ALL OF YOU.”
RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars returns to VH1 on Dec. 14 at 8 p.m. ET.
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Christina Santi is a news and culture writer for EBONY.com. Born and raised in the Bronx, New York, she considers herself a well-read, not so traditional feminist with a heavy interest in music, fashion and pop culture. Christina currently lives in New York City, where she refers to her Cuban & Jamaican descent often while writing about her experiences as a first-generation Afro-Latinx in America. She also devotes time writing personalized reading material for her tutees and turning ideas into words for streetwear brand, PUER By Noel Bronson.