South Park Transgender Athletes Episode Controversy

South Park Transgender Athletes Episode Controversy

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Updated Nov 19, 2019 at 09:40AM EST by Philipp.

Added Nov 18, 2019 at 11:57AM EST by Philipp.

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Overview

South Park Transgender Athletes Episode Controversy refers to the episode "Board Girls" of animated TV series South Park which touched the subject of transgender athletes competing against cisgender athletes in sports. Following the episode, users on social media questioned the episode, with several news outlets reporting that the episode mocked transgender athletes, sparking passionate debates over the way the issue was approached.

Background

On November 13th, 2019, episode seven "Board Girls" of animated TV series "South Park" premiered. The episode introduced character Heather Swanson, a male-to-female transgender who started identifying as female two weeks prior.[1] In the episode, Heather competes against character Strong Woman in a Strong Woman Competition, ultimately winning it, and continuously mocks Strong Woman about her loss and her unwillingness to respond throughout the episode. Additionally, the character PC Principal, Strong Woman's partner, gets criticized in the media after saying that Heather Swanson has an unfair advantage due to her going through her puberty as a male.



- Look, I know we're all afraid to have opinions on this stuff, but there can be situations when it's not so easy to… What I mean is…
- I didn't count on being the best since identifying as a woman.
- Yeah, no shit, because you went through your puberty as a male, so your body is completely different!
- And that's exactly what a transphobe would say!

Online Reactions

In the following days, transgender world track cycling champion Rachel McKinnon and several other Twitter users made tweets questioning the episodes, with several users describing the episode as transphobic (examples shown below, top row),[2][3][4] and with other users defending the episode and the show's creators (examples shown below, bottom row).[5][6]


Dr. Veronica McKinnon @rachelvmckinnon I'm not particularly mad about the South Park episode. Yes it's transphobic. Yes it's lazy. Yes it contributes to harm to trans women and girls But they're lazy and increasingly irrelevant F---, Futurama made the same stupid storyline in 2003 Transphobes don't have new jokes. 10:58 AM-14 Nov 2019 Dave Rhinna @MetalDave815 Should South Park be able to talk about the trans community? Absolutely. They've done it for years, but with where we are in the world today you have to ask yourself "is this a net positive or a net negative?". In my opinion this is an episode that does more harm than good. 2:06 AM -15 Nov 2019 from Austin, TX
Patrick Hauf @PatrickHauf South Park bashed Trump and Giuliani last week, then mocked trans athletes this week. This is exactly why they've lasted 23 seasons. Nobody is safe. 9:19 PM - 13 Nov 2019 Jennie @JennieGirl2469 Replying to @JournalistEW I am trans and I agree with South Park. 6:14 AM 16 Nov 2019

Multiple news outlets reported on the episode and the tweets accusing the show of transphobia, including articles by PinkNews,[7] NewsHub,[8] The Independent[9] and Hollywood Reporter.[10]

On November 16th, 2019, satire Facebook[11] and Twitter[12] account Journalist Excellence Worldwide posted a vote offering to choose whether South Park should be banned from television, labeling the "yes" and "no" options as "Ban South Park" and "I Am Transphobic" (post screenshots shown below). The vote received over 15,000 reactions and 9,900 shares on Facebook and over 290 retweets on Twitter, with the "no" option gaining over 90 percent of votes on both platforms.


Journalist Excellence Worldwide created a poll. November 16 at 8:19 AM South Park's "satire" depicting transgender athletes beating female athletes was both unfunny & dangerous. Is it finally time to ban the series from television, streaming services and all other forms of media? Ι ΑM SOUTH TRANS- PARK PHOВІС BAN Yes No This poll ends in 4 days 240.5K Votes Journalist Excellence Worldwide created a poll. November 16 at 8:19 AM South Park's "satire" depicting transgender athletes beating female athletes was both unfunny & dangerous. Is it finally time to ban the series from television, streaming services and all other forms of media? ΙΑM BAN SOUTH TRANS- PARK PHOВІС 6% 94% Yes No This poll ends in 4 days 245.5K Votes

In the following days, users on Reddit, Instagram and other platforms posted screenshots of the vote and made memes based on it. For example, a /r/therewasanattempt post by Redditor drewands received over 46,800 upvotes in one day.[13] A I Love Democracy meme by Instagram user humanity.gone24 received over 6,500 votes in six hours.[14]

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