A popular kids TV series has teamed up with the soap company Dove to promote, among other things, the normalization of “gender identities.”
Though it dates back to July of last year, a clip from a Cartoon Network show called “Steven Universe” recently made waves on social media that features a character—showing off her own social media account—revealing her “intersex/nonbinary” identity.
The profile page belonging to the character, called “Stevonnie,” reads, “Intersex, non-binary, they-them.”
As “Stevonnie” scrolls through the social media timeline, the words “Intersex rights are human rights!” and “Intersex Awareness Day October 28th” are seen.
The clip is part of a series of several videos made in partnership with Dove’s Self Esteem Project campaign. Other episodes touch on issues such as bullying, body image, comparing ourselves to celebrities, body talk, and body functionality.
The show, which was also made into a movie last year, was created by animator Rebecca Sugar, who identifies as a “bisexual non-binary woman.”
A glowing review by SheKnows explains the bizarre premise of the show, which is rated TV-PG and has aired since 2013:
Steven Universe is a cartoon about a boy who lives with three immortal aliens, each with their own superpower. It’s also a show about gender, sexuality, trauma, mental illness and abusive relationships. And it may be the most important show on TV right now.
It might seem like your typical goofy-but-fun children’s fare, but the show is much, much more than that. The cartoon has, since its inception in late 2013, dealt with topics that some shows aimed at adults wouldn’t dare approach. And while it’s not a replacement for important conversations with your children, Steven Universe is an excellent starting point.
It’s tough to describe Steven Universe without falling down a rabbit hole of complicated plot details. But here’s the basic breakdown: Steven Universe is a young boy who lives in the fictional Beach City with his three guardians, Garnet, Pearl and Amethyst — all of whom are immortal genderless gemstone aliens who immigrated to Earth from their home planet after a war.
Through the act of “fusion,” Gems can combine their beings into one. This can be read as sex, although it isn’t explicit at all, and the comparison falls apart when Steven and his best friend Connie, both young teens, fuse later in the show.
This “fusion” is the “Stevonnie” character seen in the above video.
The most notable fusion happens between two Gems, Ruby and Sapphire — the first two Gems to ever fuse for purposes other than utility and simply combining physical strength. When they fuse — into Garnet — their fellow Gems are appalled and disgusted, casting the newly formed Garnet out of their midst. This can open discussions about same-sex relationships and how they can sometimes be perceived by others. Because Garnet is a main character and Ruby and Sapphire’s love is shown as true and strong, you can easily segue into how your child would treat someone like Ruby or Sapphire, and how their relationship is just as valid as people of different genders.
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