Date of Completion


Document Type

Honors College Thesis



Thesis Type

Honors College, College of Arts and Science Honors

First Advisor

Paul Deslandes


drag, trans, gender nonconformity, popular culture, public opinion


Drag, individuals we might identify as trans, and gender non-conformity have transformed from a place of illegality and marginalization to a place both celebration and contention in the United States from the period of 1952 to 2009. This dramatic change is evident through examples in popular culture, changing public opinion, and moments of political resistance during this time. Though this transformation may seem inherently linear and positive, there are nuances to the changing attitudes towards gender non-conformity, as these attitudes ranged from acceptance to indifference to hostility. This thesis attributes this dramatic transformation from 1952 to 2009 to the roles of representation and political resistance as catalysts for changing attitudes during this time. Through the lenses of popular culture, public opinion, and public resistance, this thesis examines the evolution of various representations of gender non-conformity. Additionally, this transformation can be traced through a wide range of popular culture examples, from The Queen to Paris is Burning to RuPaul’s Drag Race. In using examples from the media, each chapter is characterized as a thematic, emblematic, and unique moment in queer history.

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 3.0 License.