Posted: Jun 06, 2013 7:30 AM
 
Last weekend, Hub Network premiered SheZow, a superhero cartoon geared toward ages seven and up. What makes this show any different than the dozens of other superhero shows on TV? SheZow is about a boy who turns into a “female” superhero. Is this cause for concern or no big deal?

Hub Network's new show SheZow is about a boy named Guy who happens to turn into a superhero in women's clothing. Depending on who you ask, this is either a progressive, cute concept or an offensive, liberal tactic. Is SheZow's content cause for concern?

Conservative groups react to SheZow

This is just another attempt by the gay, lesbian and transgender community to indoctrinate our children into accepting their lifestyles.

Last weekend, conservative group OneMillionMoms sent an email bulletin advising parents to contact the Hub to protest "transgender superhero" SheZow. "This is just another attempt by the gay, lesbian and transgender community to indoctrinate our children into accepting their lifestyles," said OneMillionMoms, a division of the American Family Association. The email encouraged parents to seek help for children "struggling with any kind of sin including homosexuality, gender identity disorder, gender confusion or gender dysphoria."

Is SheZow a transgender character?

Based on the email from OneMillionMoms, I expected SheZow’s main character, 12-year-old Guy, to be transgender. When I checked out the show, it took about three minutes to see that Guy simply dons a female costume to fight crime thanks to a magical ring he accidentally inherits from his superhero aunt. Guy identifies as a boy, has conventionally masculine traits and isn't particularly thrilled about wearing a dress to fight crime. Many of the first episode's comedic moments involve Guy flipping out about his alter ego's female costume. Guy is in no way transgender. It's important to note that identifying as transgender has nothing to do with sexual orientation.

Is SheZow damaging to kids?

women's pink bootsOne of the concerns about SheZow is that it will encourage little boys to want to put on dresses to fight crime. Really? I'm pretty sure the average little boy is going to reach for a Superman costume before he raids mom's closet in search of pink and white platform boots. What about the long history of primarily male superheroes and action heroes? When I was growing up, I didn't think I needed to become a boy to be a hero. That being said, I don't see the harm in a child experimenting with clothing and gender roles. Playing make believe isn't going to influence a child's sexuality or gender identity. On the other hand, treating a child's identity as an affliction has potential to cause serious harm.

The real message behind SheZow

These kids need messages that being different is OK. They need to know that being a hero isn't about the clothes you wear. They need to know that being feminine isn't a sign of weakness.

While it's laughable to think that anyone believes a pink dress and some sparkles can turn a child gay, it's important to recognize the bigger picture here. There are transgender children, kids discovering sexual orientation and kids who simply aren't comfortable adhering to strict binary gender roles. These kids face bigotry, discrimination and those who believe their identities are a sin that can be corrected. These kids need messages that being different is OK. They need to know that being a hero isn't about the clothes you wear. They need to know that being feminine isn't a sign of weakness. They need shows like SheZow, where parents and siblings offer young kids support and acceptance along life's bumpy road. I don't think a Saturday morning cartoon is going to change the world, but it's momentum in the right direction.

More on kid behavior

How to end your child's aggressive behavior
How to help kids cope when pets die
Tips for teaching listening skills

SheZow image credits: The Hub

Topics: self esteem