RuPaul's Drag Race has helped break down several barriers since it premiere in 2009, and in its upcoming ninth season, the Emmy-winning series might make herstory once again by potentially crowning the first openly transgender winner.
Peppermint, a staple in the New York drag scene and an early frontrunner to become America's Next Drag Superstar, is the first contestant to enter the competition as an openly transgender woman — although, she's far from the first trans competitor to step foot in the Drag Race workroom.
No one could ever forget Sonique's emotional reveal that she's transgender in the Season 2 reunion special and Monica Beverly Hillz announcing she's trans during the second episode of Season 5. And over the years, several other contestants have come out as trans after their time on Drag Race wrapped, including Carmen Carrera, Kenya Michaels, Jiggly Caliente and Gia Gunn. But so far, none of the women have managed to snatch that elusive Drag Race crown.
As for what it would mean to be Drag Race's first transgender winner, Peppermint emphasized the hope it would give to the trans community as a whole.
"I don't want to say [I was] going through an identity crisis when I was younger, but I really didn't see anybody like me," Peppermint told TVGuide.com at the Season 9 premiere. "And that's not that unique for minorities: to not see someone reflected in television and media that represents who they feel they are. But I know that there's a lot of trans youngsters, queer or genderqueer youngsters, who are looking for someone to show them that they're not alone. So if you can look out and see yourself reflected in film and television, then you have a brighter future."
But, as Peppermint explained, the need for better trans representation goes far beyond the very niche world of Drag Race, and she hopes to see more scripted roles open up for trans actors as well.
"That's really a call to action for everyone who writes television [and] film," Peppermint explained. "Start casting minorities and trust that we've faced adversity, we've led the charge in our daily lives, so we can certainly read a script and entertain."
RuPaul's Drag Race Season 9 premieres Friday, March 24 at 8/7c on its new network VH1. Encore presentations will be shown on Logo after their initial broadcasts.