Slaying Gender Episode 3 – Travis Randy Travis

Men, women, adults, children, cisgender people, transgender people, queer, straight… Whoever we are and however we identify, we all have a gender expression. But right-wing extremists continue to launch attack after attack on our LGBTQIA+ community — specifically transgender people and drag performers — simply because they are expressing and presenting themselves differently than the GOP’s narrow, hateful lens would like.

With our Slaying Gender series, we’re featuring voices from Texas’ diverse transgender and drag communities. Watch episode 3 with Austin-based drag king Travis Randy Travis below!

Watch Episodes

Brigitte Bandit | Luna Karr | Travis Randy Travis | Ryan

Interview Transcript

[TRT on what animal he would be]

It’s probably a bobcat. No, I’m kidding. It’s probably Border Collie, but not… not like a pain-in-the-ass Border Collie where they nip at your heels. One that’s like, been working a little bit. Just kind of kind of a goofball, you know, at little dummy, but yeah, yeah, that’s TRT.

[intro and music]

I’m Travis Randy Travis. I go by he/him/his.

Where are you based?

Austin, Texas.

How do you identify? How does this shape your viewpoint of the world?

Out of drag, I usually identify as a woman. I am also pansexual and I’m part of the queer community. As Travis Randy Travis, I feel like he’s definitely pansexual. He’s that guy from high school. I think that’s even in my bio.

Out of drag, I think finally seeing the freedom with being queer helped me understand, hopefully, different viewpoints of others, but also, hopefully, allowing the space for others to feel free in expressing themselves as well.

So that’s what understanding my own queerness — I’ve been really thinking about this recently, is that being in drag, especially as like a drag king, I think it has gotten me closer to my femininity than ever before. I know that sounds weird, and I’m sitting here with the mustache and my sideburns and everything, but it’s, like, this breath of fresh air. It’s like, all right, I could go either way. And I love that.

How long have you been performing in queer spaces?

Does high school count? It was super queer! Even as a child going to Zach Scott, like, I think of Zach Scott as being a queer space. I think theater, in general, has been a queer space. Gay bars, maybe five years or so or more? But I will say I’ve always felt comfortable in whatever space I’ve been in. And usually, if it’s a theater, it’s queer [laughs].

What does drag mean to you?

Drag is joy. Drag in the Austin community is a just… loving hug. Drag in Austin says, “I love you back,” which is sometimes hard to find in different performance spaces. It just, it gives me so much joy and happiness, and I feel respected and I feel taken seriously, which sometimes, too, in acting, or in film, or in improv in town, you might not find that, and you might see some pretty… maybe nasty claws of industry or whatnot. 

There’s some phenomenal drag performers that are doing takes on emotions or deities or, like, entities that might not exist, but that’s their character. We have a really good community in Austin, and we have I think I would say a peppering — or I mean, buffet — of all those kind of performers. And I love that.

It means joy in Austin. It really does. And I don’t want it to go anywhere.

“Drag is joy. Drag in the Austin community is a just… loving hug… It means joy in Austin. It really does. And I don’t want it to go anywhere.”
You’re hosting your dream drag show. What would the theme be?

Oh, gosh. Oh, well, I don’t really want to say it on camera because I don’t want anybody to take it! …Puttin’ on [gesturing]…TM… No, I can’t, because then I’ll probably get a cease and desist from the actual idea that I have for. [more gesturing] We’re talking me coming down on, like, wires… into the crowd. Kind of like P!nk.

I love boy bands and the like, kind of like the boy band mentality of things. So if we were to do something like a reality TV show, boy band-esque show where you then have like kind of the takeaways or asides, like the confessional, like in between acts. But I want there to be drama with these boys. We’re talking about the full spectrum of boy bands and dra-ma, lots of plastic-looking individuals and just… a lot of poppin’, lotta lockin’. Like, a lotta this, a lotta that…If was your boyfriend, I’d never let you go.

How would the legislative attacks on drag impact you and your community?

So that’s the biggest question as of late, right? This past legislative session, we fought really hard to stop… I want to say the 133 bad bills. And getting help from different organizations like TFN and then also, too, Equality Texas, really trying to come together as a community to do something because then, there goes a livelihood, there goes therapy in a sense for some [if drag is banned]. Especially as a person who worked COVID units and whatnot, we were floated everywhere in the hospital. We had to work everything during the pandemic. So that depression that I had, since then, drag has helped alleviate that in a healthy manner. 

Seeing drag being ripped away from, say, Texas or other states, it’s so detrimental. I worry, we all worry, and I know that Governor Abbott has signed for SB 12, but I am hopeful that other judges or politicians will band together to deem that unconstitutional — and not only for the drag ban, for SB 14 and everything else. I think they are — those are bills that are formed together to basically try to eradicate queer individuals, trans individuals. 

I’m furious about it. I really am. I mean, I’ve said this before, I will be a thorn in a paw. I will be that squeaky wheel. That’s the least I can do, knowing that the queer community before me, and queer elders before me, have fought. Of course. This is the least I can do. I think about younger generations too, and like… I don’t want to just feel like, “Well, I twiddled my thumbs back in 2023!” or like… and on and on.

“I will be a thorn in a paw. I will be that squeaky wheel. That’s the least I can do, knowing that the queer community before me, and queer elders before me, have fought.”
How was your experience testifying at the Capitol?

That was my second time testifying. I did not have a planned testimony. The first time I testified, that was in the Senate. The senators sitting in front of us, some of them were very nice, and you could tell, and some of them you knew that they were going to be voting against the bill. But a lot of them gave us like, rolled their eyes at us and whatnot. And so I realized, you know, it’s like… they don’t scare me. 

When I did my testimony at the Capitol in front of the House Committee… for the State of Affairs Committee, I was in full drag that time. I was prepared. We had about a month or so to prepare, but we didn’t know that we had a month or so. So we weren’t sure if it was going to be the next week after the Senate had seen, or had voted on SB 12. The House State of Affairs Committee, they also docked our time of the amount of people that could testify. And, too, they changed the rhetoric of SB 12 the day before. So they took out the drag component of it for the House, and then they just slapped it back on as soon as they passed it through. They were constantly throughout that legislative session changing the rules.

Like, okay, for instance, the parents of kids who were lost in Uvalde, they drove in for every — well they stayed in Austin for every single day of the legislative session to try to get gun reform. And for some of them to be silenced and also to be physically taken out of galleries… I have no remorse for those politicians to change the fucking rules. Knowing going in that this is probably going to be a shit show. And again, if I could be as much pressure as I can be for one person, I’ll do it again and again.I will say, even though I would not be afraid to talk to any of those representatives face to face, it is something. Once you get in there in full drag or once you go in to talk about something that you are so passionate about, your heart is racing. Your heart is, like, pounding out of your chest because you’re like: I’m not only doing this, yes, sure, for myself, but like, I hope that I’m able to at least reach somebody here.

What are some misconceptions about drag kings?

I don’t know if it’s a misconception. It’s just a way that you’re kind of treated sometimes, or like… I would say, not necessarily fully in Austin, but I know in other communities too, that certain queens are just not hot on wanting to book kings. Brigette Bandit has mentioned this before where it’s like, having a well-rounded show, it really just adds to the show. Like having all different representation. And I agree with that too. But I feel like sometimes there’s… would the word be discrimination? Of like being like, “No, we’re queens. This is our stage, our environment, our bar.” And I’m like, “Okay, but… are we going to continue to do the same old, same old on that stage?” Like, I don’t know, I just think it would be cool for an audience to see something different. So I hope that answers it a little bit. 

Thankfully, I haven’t seen, I haven’t heard too much negativity towards kings, but I know what’s out there. I feel, again, very grateful to be in such a good community. And also, if you ever do come towards me with that kind of attitude, I’d be like, “Well, you’re not getting my time of day, and I hope you feel better by saying that towards me because it’s rolling off me.” Like, I’ll be like, “Great! I won’t be there.”

Explain That Prop! With TRT

Oh, you mean this? Gigantic joint?

[faces camera] Hey, this is TRT. I just want to show you one of my props that I made. So sometimes, sometimes I pay homage to the great legend Willie Nelson. And I made a gigantic joint! Don’t know if you can see that. There’s some magic qualities inside of it. So I’m just gonna… [inhales and coughs] You can tell I don’t smoke that often. There you go. I mean, if you’re going to be Willie Nelson, you have to have a gigantic joint that smokes. I mean, how do you think he’s like, has like, a good moral compass? It probably has to do with the pot, too. Love that man.”

All right, so this is my cowboy hat. Got it at Boot Barn.

So I used to work in a physical therapy clinic and an old lady forgot these, didn’t know who. And I waited six months. Nobody claimed them. And they’re Ray-Bans.

[faces camera] Hey, this is Travis Randy Travis. And I just slayed gender.

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