Although RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 only just started, Kornbread Jeté has already become a fan-favorite.
The queen, who hails from L.A., won over the judges — and the fans — with her original rap, chicken leg necklace, and big personality.
On top of her impressive debut, Kornbread also made herstory this season as one of the first out trans women cast on the show
To clarify, there are have been plenty of trans female contestants to appear on the series before now — Drag Race just had no idea they were casting them.
But in a push to be more accepting of the trans community — and to try and put their transphobic past behind them — Drag Race cast two out trans women of color on the show: Kornbread and her real-life bestie Kerri Colby.
In an interview with TODAY, Kornbread opened up about what it was like to be mid-transition while on the show.
According to Kornbread, she had only just started transitioning a few months before the show started filming. She said,
“Everything was new for me and it was a very fresh kind of situation.”
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In fact, Kornbread hadn’t even come out to her family when she was cast. So she was a little hesitant to speak out about her transition with her fellow queens.
“I kept everything to myself. I wanted to go in and just deliver everything that I had, but I also did not want to have that conversation too much out loud until I sat down and talked to family about it because it was more of a personal thing.
Looking back, however, the queen is glad that she could show a different side of what it means to be trans. Kornbread explained,
“There’s this whole thing of being trans looks a specific way and being trans means I want to wake up the next day and look like the image that’s in my head. I’m glad that I wasn’t fully what I wanted to look like on the show just to demonstrate that there’s different levels to the process. There’s also different visuals of what being trans is. It’s not just one thing and it doesn’t just look one ‘particular way.'”
“It’s a journey and there’s not one way to be trans. Inclusivity of everyone is key.”
Fortunately, Kornbread didn’t have to go through that journey alone — Kerri was there for her.
The two queens were friends way before getting cast on the show and Kerri has been a huge part of Kornbread’s transition story. Kornbread told EW,
“[Kerri’s] literally walked me through so much of my transition that no one understands how much she’s done for me personally. She’s not my drag mom, but I tell her she’s definitely partly my trans mom.”
Walk into the room LOAF FIRST
— Kornbread “The Snack” Jeté (@kornbreadTMFS) March 12, 2022
Sadly, trans inclusion is something that the Drag Race franchise has only just started to embrace. Last season was the first to have a fully out trans contestant — Gottmik. And this season is the first to have out trans women.
Drag Race, and RuPaul in particular, has fought hard against change. The show has been notoriously transphobic. For example, when it first premiered it used terms like “she-mail” (a play on “she-male”, a derogatory term for trans women). On top of that, RuPaul has given a series of transphobic interviews in which he made it clear that trans women were not welcome on the show.
But whether RuPaul liked it or not, previous Drag Race contestants started coming out. Slowly, at first. But then more and more queens came out as trans and/or non-binary. And then, in season 9, Peppermint came out as trans onscreen to her fellow contestants. It was a Drag Race first.
Eventually, several seasons later, the show cast their first out trans queen with Gottmik, who identifies as a trans man, in season 13.
RuPaul might not have been thrilled about changing with the times but fans have been begging for more diversity for years.
As Kerri explained,
“The audience has been hungry for it. We’ve been ready. We’ve been thirsty for it.”
Hopefully, Kerri and Kornbread are just the firsts of many more to come.
RuPaul’s Drag Race season 14 airs on Fridays on VH1.