Carmen Roman (better know as Carmen Carrera) is an American transgender woman best known for her appearance in the third season of RuPaul's Drag Race and it's spin-off series RuPaul's Drag U. She is an actress, model, burlesque performer and reality television personality. While she presented as a male during her initial appearance in the drag competition, ABC News reported that she was trans in 2012. She began her transition after she completed filming the third season of Drag Race.
Carmen was born in New Jersey in 1985 and is of Puerto Rican-Peruvian descent. She was the second contestant on Drag Race to return to the show after being eliminated and was featured as a professor on Drag U.
In 2011, Carrera was featured in the magazine, W, as a part of series of realistic advertisements for fictional products. Her set featured her as the face of the fictional fragrance La Femme. She also appeared in a commercial for Orbitz, a site related to travel. She has appeared in a music video for recording artist Lovari for the song Take My Pain Away. She has modeled for photographer David LaChapelle and in a poster for Life Ball, she is depicted with both male and female genitalia to show how gender identity is blurred and fluid. In 2014 she was featured as part of Advocate's "40 under 40" and also appeared in the premiere episode of Jane the Virgin. Also in 2014, Carrera was featured on the fifth anniversary cover of C☆NDY magazine along with thirteen other transgender women.
Carmen is also an activist for HIV and AIDS awareness, as the disease has a significant impact on the transgender community. A dress she wore for an ad meant to raise awareness for the disease was auctioned off in commemoration of World AIDS Day. All funds raised from the auction were donated to the National Association of People with AIDS.
On an episode of ABC's Primetime: What Would You Do?, Carrera played a transgender waitress working in a diner. The program features actors performing scenes in public, with bystanders unaware that they are being filmed. Many of the scenes involve uncomfortable situations and attempt to get bystanders to interact with the scene in a candid camera style social experiment. Carrera's scene involves her being confronted by a customer who recalls her serving him when she lived as a man. The customer berates her, and interacts with other customers and creates a scene. Other customers come to Carmen's defense. Here's a link to the clip. What Would You Do?
Carrera also appeared in an episode of Cake Boss. In the episode, she unknowingly participated in a prank between the star of the show, Buddy Valastro, and his cousin. Valastro sets his cousin up on a date with Carrera, culminating with him informing his cousin "...that's a man baby!". Carmen had agreed to do the show with the intent to raise awareness for the trans community and was unaware she would be the subject of a joke. So the "punchline" was a giant punch in the face to her and the transgender community. She later complained about the situation on Facebook "By calling me a 'MAN' promotes ignorance and makes it ok to call transgender women, men. PEOPLE GET BULLIED, BEAT UP, AND KILLED FOR BEING TRANS BECAUSE OF THIS IGNORANCE! ... I made it VERY clear to the producers on how to use the correct wording before agreeing to film this but instead they chose to poke fun and be disrespectful. That's not what I'm about! ... I may not have been born a woman, but I'm NOT a man. I told them I wouldn't mind if they said 'born male' or 'was a male'. After taking this journey it's not fair at all to be lied to by the producers."
Carrera has also criticized RuPaul on his use of the words tranny, shemale and other variations used on his shows in 2014 and again in 2015. RuPaul defended his use of the slurs, provoking the opinion amongst many that many cis and gay drag performers are inherently transphobic. (I'll keep my opinion on that subject to myself for now.) Many people who disagreed with her accused her of "biting the hand that fed her". But she credited her agent, friends, fans and family and that she was not going to support transphobic language.
Carrera's work in AIDS awareness and her unyielding fight against transphobia makes her a champion of transgender issues. Oh, and by the way...She should have won Drag Race.