Saturday, April 13, 2024

Disney’s Baymax TV show acknowledges trans men

On Tuesday, alt-right writer and activist Christopher F. Rufo posted a tweet that contained a leaked scene from Disney+’s new Baymax TV show, enraged that the show “promotes the transgender flag and the idea that men can have periods to children as young as two years old.”

The scene depicted in the video shows Baymax, the inflated medical robot from Big Hero 6, standing in the feminine hygiene aisle of a supermarket. He turns to a woman standing next to him and asks which brand of tampon she recommends. The woman is surprised at first, but proceeds to offer Baymax a box of the ones she normally uses. This causes other people in the aisle to give their suggestions as well, including a character who’s clearly a transgender man. He’s a blond guy wearing a beanie, a hoodie, and a trans flag tank top, and he happily gives his own recommendation to the robot.

Baymax doesn’t make a huge deal out of this moment, using it as a sort of comedic way to show the solidarity people who experience periods can often feel, especially towards someone who’s experiencing it for the first time. Despite Rufo’s catastrophizing, there’s really no strong messaging attached to the moment other than the fact that trans men exist and also have periods. It’s not a call to action, just a small acknowledgement of a fact of life.

This is honestly a pretty small moment of representation, but it does feel significant given the alt-right response to it, and the fact that Disney’s animation projects have had a history of homo and transphobic censorship. Recently, Alex Hirsch, the creator of Gravity Falls, shared a four minute video that included some of the most ridiculous changes Disney asked him to make to the show’s script.

Beyond that, Disney has faced controversy for its response to the “Don’t Say Gay” legislation in Florida. Disney CEO Bob Chapek sent an internal memo to staff explaining that the company didn’t take a stand, especially since the company has supported the politicians in favor of the bill with almost $200,000.

“As we have seen time and again, corporate statements do very little to change outcomes or minds,” Chapek said in the memo. “Instead, they are often weaponized by one side or the other to further divide and inflame. Simply put, they can be counterproductive and undermine more effective ways to achieve change.”

After this, Owl House creator Dana Terrace publicly denounced the memo in an interview with Business Insider, saying it “contained nothing of worth, just a pile of hollow assurances and defensive finger pointing to their ‘inspiring content.'”

In the wake of all this, a Disney show casually showing a trans man without making a huge deal of it feels good, even if it comes with the fear that it’s a surface level show of support that may not (read: more than likely doesn’t) actually go deeper.

Ty Galiz-Rowe

Ty is a freelance games writer and esports expert.