Facebook's new policy raises concerns for drag queens, transgender individuals
William Gerald, more commonly known as Janee Starr, performs during his final solo performance in IBT’s Saturday Night Starlets drag show. IBT’s, Tucson’s most popular gay bar, hosts the drag queen runway show every Saturday evening at 9 p.m.
Recently, Facebook raised concerns when it announced that any name on the website must be an individual’s legal name.
This policy has angered the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning community, particularly drag queens and transgender individuals.
The policy itself states that “the name you use should be your real name as it would be listed on your credit card, driver’s license or student ID.”
Patrick Holt, an associate professor at the School of Theatre, Film and Television, moonlights under his drag persona, Tempest DuJour. He said that the policy is a matter of common sense among the community.
“I understand the reason for the name policy,” Holt said. “But I think this is a case of the spirit of the law versus the letter of the law. I think anyone who is looking at a drag queen’s website knows that [he] is a drag queen, and I don’t think anybody is trying to hide that or fool anybody.”
Marty Aguirre, a theatre arts junior, who goes on stage under the drag persona Morgana Le Fae, said he feels that money is part of the motivation for the policy.
Aguirre said he doesn’t agree with Facebook’s policy that requires people to use their legal names.
“As a performer, we have the ability to change who we are,” Aguirre said, “so naturally, one of the things that we change is our name.”
Aguirre said with a personal profile, a person doesn’t need to spend money, but with a Facebook page, a person can pay for self-promotion.
Holt also said that another issue with the law goes beyond people just looking at the web page or profile of a performer; rather, it is an issue of self-identification. Holt said a lot of people in the LGBTQ community have had difficulty finding acceptance and have been rejected by family and friends.
“This alias, whether this is a drag name or a transsexual person who is transitioning, it represents a new person and a new life,” Holt said.
Holt said that the alias, though not a legal name, is truly representative of who the person is.
Aguirre also agreed that an issue with the name policy is the effect it will have on performers’ lives outside of their drag personas.
“People should be free to use whatever name they choose,” Aguirre said, “because it could be costly for them if they did go by their legal name.”
Aguirre added that sometimes people change their Facebook profile names because they could get fired if their workplaces knew about their personal lives.
Greg Daniels, one of the co-directors of ASUA Pride Alliance, also said that an individual’s safety can be put at risk when such a policy is in place.
“There are deeper issues that come with enacting policies such as these,” Daniels said, “such as those that involve people trying to flee domestic violence situations, hide themselves from stalkers, or people who do not go by their birth names because they may be transgender or agender.”
Holt also said that drag queens are the only performers being targeted for using their professional, rather than legal, names on the social networking site.
“I don’t see anyone going after Lady Gaga or other entertainers who don’t use their legal names,” Holt said. “And there are plenty of actors, musicians and other entertainers that don’t use their legal real names on Facebook, but no one is going after them.”
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