Viewing gender as a performance reveals how gender identity is shaped and formed. There is currently tensions associated with drag queen performance as an act of subversion and transgression from the heteronormative definition of gender and drag as a perpetuation of heteronormative definitions of gender. There is also a tension between the affirmation of femininity and transgression from gender binaries of womanhood. In order to address these tensions, this thesis project examined the reasoning behind how transgender women and gay men drag queen performers navigate the world of femininity. Specifically, this study explored the varied reasons behind performing femininity through drag and to further understand what it means to perform femininity. This project also delved into gender scholarship and how it related to gender as performance, drag queen performance, and transgender identity performance. I collected the data through purposeful sampling and semi-structured interviews with three transgender drag queens and three gay man drag queens. The interview responses were analyzed using thematic analysis. The themes that were discovered in this project suggested that through drag performance, femininity is used as medium to access a unique understanding of the self. The data suggested that cultural and social understandings of gender influenced performance of the self on and off the stage and the participants still worked within these assumptions surrounding gender to make sense of their identity. Ultimately, this thesis explored what it means to perform femininity and identity in a culture that perpetuates cultural and social understandings and notions of gender performance.


Sachi Sekimoto

Committee Member

Justin Rudnick

Committee Member

Christopher Brown

Committee Member

Nick Clarkson

Date of Degree




Document Type



Master of Arts (MA)


Arts and Humanities



Rights Statement

In Copyright