Drag artist Shenay O’Brien has made history after she sang her way into the women’s top 16 in this year’s Idols South Africa contest.
Shenay, also known as 26-year-old former drama student and performer Thiart Li, has been wowing audiences with her powerful voice.
According to the Idols SA website, Shenay does not identify as transgender but rather as a drag performer.
“I have immense respect for brave individuals like Caitlin Jenner, but it’s incorrect to refer to me as a Caitlin Jenner,” she said.
“There is a vast difference between transgender and drag artists. I don’t plan to have any surgical procedures to become a full-fledged woman – not even botox for my little frown. ‘Cause I love who I am… and, I hope South Africa will love me too.”
Shenay closed Sunday’s episode of Idols with her take on the Jessie J hit Bang Bang.
While she’s built up a loyal following, it’s not all been plain sailing. Some Idols fans have expressed their confusion and homophobia at her participation in the show.
Rancha Thomas Bloem wrote on the Idols site that she was concerned about Shenay “singing with the girls” and said that, “He confuses me and i dont know what to make of shim… does he sound and look like a woman? NO. so like seriously he should be on Ru Paul.”
Mthevazana Tobias responded with: “It’s 2015, get with the times. Your homophobia and ignorance is tasteless. Shenay is nothing short of a goddess. Goodluck girl!!!”
If you’d like to vote for Shenay, SMS 08 to 37400 or dial *120*33033#, vote for her on Wechat, the Idols website at idolssa.tv or via the M-Net app.