Conchita Wurst is Not a Transvestite: She’s the Stage Persona of a Drag Queen

conchita wurst believe

This. It has irritated me from May 11th, 2014 when international newspapers had headlines screaming “Austrian Transvestite Wins Eurovision”, “Bearded Transvestite Winner at Eurovision 2014“. Now, four months after Eurovision, and when I did research for a story I was writing yesterday about Conchita Wurst’s concert at the European parliament in October, not one, not two, but every story I pulled up called her a ‘transvestite’. Including an online newspaper in her native Austria. I was the only one that didn’t. Seriously?

So, if Conchita Wurst is not a transvestite, what is she? (And doesn’t that sound incredibly rude – as if she’s nothing more than someone to be labeled a certain way?)

Other than the fact that she’s an incredibly talented singer, the winner of the Eurovision Song Contest 2014, smart, polite, kind, sweet and very professional, she’s also Austrian, thin, beautiful, bearded, dark-haired, young, well-dressed, hilariously funny, stylish, honest, liberal, open-minded, has excellent morals, amazing legs, looks fabulous in heels, loves her family, is a good friend, a loyal person, and one of the nicest people you could ever hope to meet.

And, oh yes, she’s actually male. He’s gay. And he’s a drag queen.

What is the difference between a transvestite and a drag queen?

So, what is the difference between a transvestite and a drag queen, you might now be asking?

While sometimes a complicated issue for some people who are transvestites, the simplified version is a transvestite is usually a man who wears women’s clothing in his every day life — whether occasionally or often — although it is possible to be a female transvestite — someone who wears men’s clothes.

I’ve known a couple of men who were transvestites who wore women’s clothing almost all the time. Others will wear it once a week, or once a month — however often they feel like doing so. Some wear it in the privacy of their own homes, while others wear women’s clothing in public. There really are no rules.

Some transvestites are gay, many are straight and some are bi-sexual. In fact, as far as sexual orientation goes, anyone can classify themselves as a transvestite, and many people do.

What is Conchita Wurst? (and, yes, that sounds rude) (forgive me, Conchita, it wasn’t meant)

As for Conchita Wurst, the winner of Eurovision 2014, she is the stage persona of an extremely talented young Austrian man called Tom Neuwirth. He is a gay man, and also a drag queen – a man who dresses up as a woman for performance purposes only.

During his every day life when he’s not performing as Conchita, however, Tom doesn’t wear women’s clothing, so he’s not a transvestite. As Conchita herself describes her alter ego – “He’s just the lazy boy at home”.

Transvestite or drag queen?

Of course, it’s difficult to label someone as either a transvestite or a drag queen, as there are so many different variations of each, and each one is as valid for the person choosing to live their lives that way than any other. Besides, heaven knows, I don’t wish to offend.

But the simple way to do it is this — a transvestite chooses to wear women’s clothing in his every day life — whether occasionally or often — and for whatever reason they choose to wear them, and a drag queen wears women’s clothing just for the performances he gives.

Conchita Wurst is not a transvestite, she’s the stage persona of a man who is a drag queen. And, oh yes, she’s fabulous.

In fact, just in case you’ve missed just how fabulous the amazing Ms. Wurst is, watch the video below. Conchita Wurst singing her version of “Believe”. Yep. Incredible.

About Michelle Topham

Brit-American journalist based in Austria, former radio DJ at 97X WOXY, and Founder/CEO of Leo Sigh. I've covered anime, manga, K-drama and music news for over a decade.