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RuPaul’s Drag Race designer accused of ‘deliberately misgendering’ trans activist

Ella Braidwood July 29, 2018

Trans rights campaigner Ashlee Marie Preston has accused esteemed designer Abraham David Levy, whose works have appeared in the shows Pose and RuPaul’s Drag Race, of intentionally misgendering her, by referring to her as a “guy” and a “man.”

The incident happened following a tweet Preston made about FX’s series Pose, which has been praised for starring five trans women of colour, alongside trans writers, and the first trans woman of colour to direct a television episode, Janet Mock. 

The show, set in 1980s New York, portrays life in the city’s iconic queer ballroom culture.

Preston claimed that RuPaul had not spoken about the impact of Pose, implying that she believed he is anti-trans.

She wrote on Twitter: “The fact that America is raving about Pose on FX Networks and RuPaul hasn’t uttered one word; nor has he let a single thought escape from under that tattered wig — confirms what the trans community already knew,” reads the tweet. “Folks are gonna be hot over this tweet — but a truth is a truth…”

In response, Levy wrote in a comment discussing Preston’s tweet on Facebook:”RuPaul is currently filming [All Stars 4] just last month finished filming [Drag Race Season 11] and also working on a daytime talk show…eventually she’ll have time. Not to mention there’s a trans on [All Stars 4] but what does this guy really know about Ru?”

The designer referred to Preston as a “guy” in the comment.

In a later comment, after being called out by another Facebook user, Levy wrote: “I’ve decided Ashlee is a man, end of conversation. Period.”

Levy’s designs have appeared on seasons nine and ten of RuPaul’s Drag Race and season 2 of RuPaul’s Drag Race All Stars.

Taking to Twitter with screenshots of the comments, Preston vented: “How can Abraham David Levy misgender me as a trans woman AND make costumes for POSE on FX? If you’re going to be a transphobe at LEAST be one who doesn’t rely on the trans community to feed you, pay your rent or keep your lights on…”

Following Preston’s post, Levy posted on Facebook. The designer denied being transphobic and refused to apologise.

“Apparently you can’t say anything on social media without it being taken out of context,” Levy wrote, according to Hornet. “Late last night I came upon a post where someone was bashing Rupaul for not speaking about POSE. While defending Ru and the trans community, I posted “he” has no clue as to what he’s talking about. (Not noticing it was a woman who wrote the thread.)

“SOOOOO, at this point I have 3 people trying to correct me, I’m like WTF??? so with my sense of humor I posted back ‘Allie is now a he and that’s that. Period.’

“Now I’m being branded a trans phobic… go figure. Me, who works with everyone no matter what race or creed. For the record, ask any of my trans friends how I work with and they will tell you I give them everything for free. Yes me the “trans-phobic” taking care of my girls.

“In no sense of the word will I apologize for something I’m not. I’m not racist or phobic in any way. Never have, never will be.”

Ashlee Marie Preston attends Teen Vogue Summit 2018 in June in New York City. ( Cindy Ord/Getty Images for Teen Vogue)

Preston recently marked her 34th birthday using a cake emblazoned with the faces of murdered trans women of colour.

Posting on Instagram on June 7, Preston said: “Thank you for all the birthday wishes! Today I turned 34! Sadly the average life expectancy for a black trans woman in America is 35 years old.”

She explained that she got a cake company to “place the photos of 77 black trans women who were murdered under 35 years old on my cake.”

Trans rights campaigners widely cite that 35-years old is the average life expectancy for trans women of colour.

The activist added that she is starting a campaign called #ThriveOver35, which is “intended to help black trans women reimagine themselves somewhere other than an open casket.”

Preston continued: “Please use this hashtag for every birthday under and over 35 years old to remind our sisters brothers and others that we’re not only surviving we’re THRIVING!!”

The message on the cake reads: “Today I turned 34. Statistically, I won’t live over 35. Black trans women will no longer accept this.”

Preston highlighted the low life expectancy of black trans women on Instagram. (ashleemariepreston/Instagram)

A 2014 report by the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights found that the average life expectancy of trans women in the USA is between 30 and 35.

Preston made headlines last year when she called Caitlyn Jenner a “f***ing fraud” for supporting US president Donald Trump.

“You need to f***ing stay away,” she reportedly told Jenner at an event. “No-one wants you here.

“It’s f***ing ridiculous. You’re a f***ing fraud,” she allegedly continued.

More: ashlee marie preston, trans rights, US

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