Arts·Canada's a Drag

'My name is Tranie Tronic and I'm from outer space.' This intergalactic drag queen defies convention

Watch the latest episode of the new CBC Arts docu-series Canada's a Drag, where our country's drag performers sashay into the spotlight.

Watch the latest episode of Canada's a Drag, where our country's drag performers sashay into the spotlight

Tranie Tronic. (CBC Arts)

Tranie Tronic is just one of the many fabulous subjects featured in Canada's a Drag, a docu-series from CBC Arts that showcases drag artists from across the true North strong and fierce. You can watch all 21 episodes here.​

In 2003, Montreal-based artist Atif Siddiqi created Tranie Tronic, a persona inspired by sci-fi films and music from the 1980s that they say is "a little extra-terrestrial."

"It had that kind of b-movie vibe to it," Siddiqi says of the character. "I think it comes from my personal life as well, and never feeling quite at home on earth and the way things are here."

In the latest episode of Canada's a Drag, Siddiqi shares the story of Tronic, who they say represents "a series of revelations from behind a disguise."

​Atif Siddiqi grew up in Karachi, Pakistan, and says their gender variance started early in their childhood.

"The earliest photographs of me dressed up are when I was three years old and that kind of continued through my life," they say. "I did do a photo shoot dressed up as a woman in Karachi in 1992 that created a bit of a scandal there. People who knew about the photo shoot decided to inform some of the press in Pakistan, and then they started to talk about it that one of the girls in the shoot was not really a girl."

As far as performance goes, that didn't begin until Siddiqi came to Montreal. 

"It was more spoken word when I started — performances at art galleries and some of the clubs here as well as different artistic cultural venues," Siddiqi explains. "And people didn't really know what to do with me and how to present me and classify me."

Siddiqi says they've always felt outside of drag culture. 

"Because I do it in my personal life too there's not so much of a difference," they say. "It's not like I'm a man and then I transform into a drag queen. It's much more subtle."

Tranie Tronic. (CBC Arts)
 

With Tranie Tronic, Siddiqi says that they knew they never wanted to impersonate anyone — they wanted a persona that they had never really explored before.

"As most of my artistic work is autobiographical, my drag is a way to create a persona and express different facets of my personality," they say. "Through it, I deliver the context of my song lyrics or texts and monologues in a performance. It's an opportunity to be creative, have fun and ultimately be a contemporary storyteller in the tradition of gender variant male performers who play a woman's role onstage and screen."

Note: Last month, Siddiqi was involved in an alleged assault and robbery. When they reported the incident, they said the police laughed at their allegations and did not take them seriously. The story was picked up by CBC Montreal, and you can read more about it here. This episode was filmed and completed before the incident.

Stream seasons 1 and 2 of Canada's a Drag now on CBC Gem.

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Directors: Juliet Lammers and Lorraine Price
Packaging Editor: Chanel Klein
Titles Designer: Hope Little​
Special Thanks: Kiran Ambwani, Jules de Niverville, Pierre Dalpé, Rakhshanda Suleman, Claire Sanford, Julien Fontaine, Louis Fontaine, Julie Sion

About the Author

Peter Knegt

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since way back in 2016, with highlights including co-hosting weekly live talk show State of the Arts, writing the regular LGBTQ-culture column Queeries and playing integral roles in the launch of series The Filmmakers and Canada's a Drag. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also the filmmaker of numerous short films and the author of the book About Canada: Queer Rights. You can follow him on Instagram and Twitter with the same obvious handle: @peterknegt.