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Transphobes Are Mad About Aliens Having Pronouns. Again.

The Meep on Doctor Who.

The first Doctor Who 60th anniversary special featured the return of Ten (David Tennant) and Donna (Catherine Tate), an adorable yet evil fuzzy alien previously only seen in the comics, and Donna’s transgender daughter Rose. Cue pitchforks from the transphobic hate mob.

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See, it’s not just that Doctor Who, a show about all the possibilities of the universe, featured something as ordinary as a transgender main character (you can feel the shudders from here). Oh no, it’s that said character reminded the Doctor not to assume the pronouns of an entirely inhuman, alien creature from a species the Doctor was unfamiliar with. Woke nonsense!

Obviously, even aliens must follow the same binary gender system as transphobes do, and because They Can Always Tell, it’s obvious that the Doctor (who must secretly be a transphobe, whatever the evil woke writers who’ve got hold of him lately would have you believe) would correctly identify whether Beep the Meep was a him or a her (the only two correct pronouns, in their minds) on sight.

The fact that Beep the Meep then informs the Doctor that actually the Meep is the only and correct pronoun to use for the Meep? As far as transphobes are concerned, it’s not a clever piece of worldbuilding for an entirely alien species that doesn’t think about gender and personal identifiers in the way we do, oh no. Clearly, this is evil propaganda from the BBC intended to turn your children trans and you should write an angry letter immediately! WHaT dO wE PAy OuR lIceNCeS FoR? Etc, etc. and so on.

Repeat the usual nonsense and you won’t even have to open X, the app formerly known as Twitter (you cannot imagine how much I hate writing that out), to get the full experience. The fact that the BBC is actually known for airing transphobic content at this point, with shows like Doctor Who very much an exception, is an irony apparently lost on most of them.

If you’re as up on transphobe nonsense as I, a queer person with a lot of queer friends, unfortunately am, this particular round of transphobic shrieking may all be sounding a little familiar. Transphobes upset about a non-binary alien character, convinced this is some sort of attempt to brainwash their children into not being hateful transphobes? Where have we hard this before?

If you guessed Maya Forstater bringing viral attention to an English county’s library system by claiming their non-binary alien toddler mascot was “unsafe” for children, you are unfortunately correct, and if you’re looking at this thinking I’m playing some sort of transphobe Mad Libs, then I regret to inform you that this is a real, time- and resource-wasting situation that the Hertfordshire library system had to deal with.

The fact is that their getting this upset about fictional alien species having different relationships to sex and gender than us is pretty telling about the movement as a whole. They feel so existentially threatened by the idea of any kind of gender diversity, even in a made-up alien—literally non-human—species, that they have to scrounge for reasons that it’s a real problem, even though it manifestly isn’t.

That’s not to say transphobes are solely focused on the gender of the alien in question. The usual suspects are also enraged that the show featured a trans main character at all, and that she, and her mother dared to comment negatively on gendered power dynamics. Now, was it done perfectly? No, frankly the scene where Donna and Rose present understanding how and when to give up power as inherent to womanhood or being female-presenting—to the extent that Donna seems to think the Doctor would have known this while he was female-presenting but will have already forgotten how now he’s been back in male form for a metaphorical five minutes—is clunky and a little weird, veering dangerously close to a strange form of gender essentialism.

There’s a lot to unpack and examine in that, but obviously those aren’t the issues Oli London (who once built a public persona around claiming to be trans-Korean, an idea that is exactly as racist as you think it is) and his cohort are objecting to. No, they’re stuck on “gender identity bad, criticizing men worse.”

The fact that there are actual genuine conversations about the way gender is handled and conceptualized in this episode that we could be having—if the anti-trans hate mob weren’t crying about an alien species’ pronouns corrupting The Children™ instead—tells you everything you need to know about the people behind this movement. It’s all feelings, no substance, which ironically enough is something they regularly say about those who oppose them. It’s no wonder many people on both sides (normal people and some transphobes) are looking at this embarrassing tantrum, as well as the lack of support it’s receiving from the rest of society, as the death knell of their hate movement.

(featured image: BBC)

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Siobhan Ball
Siobhan Ball (she/her) is a contributing writer covering news, queer stuff, politics and Star Wars. A former historian and archivist, she made her first forays into journalism by writing a number of queer history articles c. 2016 and things spiralled from there. When she's not working she's still writing, with several novels and a book on Irish myth on the go, as well as developing her skills as a jeweller.

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