Here’s an important note: This story is not going to take long to read. And it does contain spoilers about Wednesday’s brand new episode of “South Park.”
If you don’t know what “South Park” is, I suggest you read the Britannica.com entry for the Comedy Central adult animated comedy about the grade school boys in Colorado. It says in part, “The show revels in controversy and taboo subjects and often parodies celebrities and public figures. Much of its humor relies on pop-culture references, slapstick, shock value, and scatological jokes...”
This week’s topic is trans athletes, and as you might expect, creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone didn’t miss an opportunity to poke fun at them. This 3-minute clip should suffice.
In addition to writing, directing, and editing each episode, Parker and Stone provide the voices of the four boys as well as of most of the male characters in the series. For the trans athlete, Heather Swanson, they utilized the image and a sound-alike voice of the late Randy Savage, the WWE wrestler “Macho Man.”
Introducing Swanson, a sportscaster asks her if it’s true she started identifying as female “two weeks ago,” in order to compete as a woman.
”I’m not here to talk about my transition, I’m here to kick some fucking ass,” Swanson says.
Of course, Swanson (the Randy Savage trans woman character) wins all the competitions she enters, something that doesn’t actually happen in real life. She then picks a fight with the partner of a cisgender competitor known as “Strong Woman.” She calls this character’s partner a “transphobe” because he complains about her behavior.
Turns out, before she transitioned, Swanson was Blade Jaggard, an ex-boyfriend of the “Strong Woman” character, and is just out for revenge for embarrassing her years ago.
The one competition she doesn’t win is a board game against girls.
Swanson complains that because she was presumed male at birth, she doesn’t read the board game directions beforehand, which she says only women do, so she was at a disadvantage and the competition was unfair. The Cartman character then invites Swanson to join the boy’s club.
Whatever. It’s a lame comedy aimed at 30- and 40-year old cis-het men who laugh at the same jokes they did when they were 12, and the women who love them.
I find myself in total agreement with scholar, activist and outstanding trans athlete Dr. Rachel McKinnon, who’s going by “Veronica” these days. Yes, this is transphobia, but it’s not unexpected given the source, and it’s not really worth getting mad or upset about it.
I'm not particularly mad about the South Park episode.— Dr. Veronica McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) November 14, 2019
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
Fuck, Futurama made the same stupid storyline in 2003
Transphobes don't have new jokes.
South Park has been deeply transphobic the *entire time*— Dr. Veronica McKinnon (@rachelvmckinnon) November 14, 2019
This isn't their first explicitly transphobic story line. It won't be their last. Stone and Parker are transphobes. Write them off. Ignore their lazy show.
For years, I’ve told my children that the only way to really defeat a bully is to not show them that they got to you. Be stone-faced, ignore them if you can, and try your best not to let them see you upset or crying. That’s their goal, to get a rise out of you. I failed terribly at this when I was called a fag, a fairy, and beat up when I was in grade school. I learned my lesson, and now teach it to my children.
I just wish the South Park folks hadn’t done this during TransWeek, but it is what it is, and as Dr. McKinnon wisely advised, the best thing we can do is ignore them. Some might argue that I failed to do that by writing about it, but in my defense, I felt it necessary to get this message out. And the message is: I still haven’t watched a single episode of South Park and I can promise you I never will.