Kat Wilderness is making trans women visible in today's drag scene: 'Drag is an art, it is not a gender'

Katerina, professionally known as Kat Wilderness, is a trans woman and drag queen residing in Miami. She’s writing her own chapter in a long history of drag culture and has got the wigs, looks and attitude to do so.

The trans community, particularly trans people of color, have played a pivotal role in cultivating drag and ballroom culture since its inception roughly a century ago.

Drag is an art. It is not a gender,” Katerina told In The Know. “Anyone can do it. Anyone can put on the wigs, can put on the outfits, the makeup and express themselves however they want to. It doesn’t matter but I know that there is people out there that do not want to see me succeed, live, thrive. And to be honest with you. I don’t care.”

Katerina gets her confidence from her unbothered attitude. Not caring what people think in a world designed to marginalize you, can be liberating.

But she wasn’t always this self-possessed. In her formative years, Katerina dealt with being called horrible slurs and bullying. According to the National Center for Transgender Equality, one in four trans people have experienced a targeted assault and the rates are higher for trans women and trans BIPOC.

“A lot of people see us as the bottom of the barrel,” she said. “Especially, Black trans women. There’s so many Black trans women and trans women that get killed every year. And I say that to come back to my confidence and the will that I had for my life.”

Figuring out who she was and finding a community that reflected that positively was life-changing.

“I didn’t always love myself, my face. It really was through time and being in these spaces and meeting other trans women that do drag here in Miami. I was like OK, there’s more people like me,” Katerina said.

Kat Wilderness is the pop star Katerina was always meant to be. On stage, Kat Wildnerness comes to life. Each of her performances is meant to evoke the same theatricality of your favorite women in pop.

“She is the child of pop stars,” Katerina said. “I’m very inspired by Beyoncé’s outfits, I’m very inspired by Ariana Grande’s outfits. I just wanted to live my pop star fantasy and I wanted to like do world tours. I wanted to bring drag into those spaces. I always say that I am the pop star that you’ve never heard of.”

While the world has a lot of catching up to do when it comes to its treatment trans people, like others in her community, Katerina is finding her own way.

“I don’t get bothered by any staring anymore. I don’t get bothered by any whispers anymore. I know who I am. I know that I live my life so authentically and on my terms,” Katerina said. “I genuinely do believe that if you listen to your heart and your gut then you’ll live life the most authentically and the most beautifully.”

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