Arts·Canada's a Drag

The world is not worthy of the talents of Rose Butch, Canada's premier non-binary 'drag thing'

The Vancouver performer channels theatrical dandyism in their pursuit of "gender euphoria."

The Vancouver performer channels theatrical dandyism in their pursuit of 'gender euphoria'

Rose Butch 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 three seasons here.​

Vancouver's Rose Butch doesn't just push the boundaries of gender — they push the boundaries of drag itself.

"I guess the most immediate definition I can give is that I'm not a drag queen or a drag king, but a self-styled 'drag thing.'"

Rose's introduction to drag was pre-RuPaul's Drag Race via a local show that prominently featured drag kings, which was initially what they wanted to do onstage. "But [I] very quickly found that as a non-binary person, I wanted to be doing non-binary drag — even though there are many different ways to express masculinity and femininity through drag, to be clear," says Rose.

Series Producers: Mercedes Grundy and Peter Knegt
Episode Director: Josephine Anderson
Episode Cinematographer: Avery Holliday
Episode Production Assistant: Dominique Wakeland
Episode Editor: Milena Salazar
Packaging Editor: Kiah Welsh
Titles Designer: Hope Little

"'Drag thing' means stepping away from expectations, and embracing an openness to any variety of gender expression, and it's been really exciting to see the term being used by folks stepping into the drag scene now."

Rose has been doing their "drag thing" for six years now, and they say it's evolved a lot. Presently, they'd describe it "as a 1960s mod Rococo clown doll living their hard femme dandy fantasy, with a whisper of the unexpected."

"My drag draws influences from lots of different sources, but I aim to be fresh and relevant, to entertain and uplift my audiences and to always be true to myself. In the immortal words of Meredith Brooks, 'I'm a little bit of everything, all rolled into one.'"

Growing up and realizing that they were trans has had a huge influence on the development of Rose's drag — and it how it makes them feel doing it.

"Moving through the world as a trans person and a non-binary person...there's so many things around gender that were upsetting to me or really frustrating," Rose says. "To be able to play within gender and gender expression, and to be able to turn that into something euphoric and fun and the opposite of that pressing down feeling...that's one of the main things that I like to do with Rose Butch."

Follow Rose Butch on Instagram and meet the other kings, queens and in betweens in the third season of Canada's a Drag, streaming now on CBC Gem.

About the Author

Peter Knegt has worked for CBC Arts since 2016, writing the LGBTQ-culture column Queeries (winner of the 2019 Digital Publishing Award for best digital column in Canada) and spearheading the launch and production of series Canada's a Drag and interactive project Superqueeroes, both of which received 2020 Canadian Screen Award nominations. Beyond CBC, Knegt is also a stand-up comedian, 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.