Disney Progresses

In an article published by the New York Post, writer Julie Gunlock discusses the, apparently, overwhelming and dynamic struggles of trying to raise kids in a Disney-centered world when Disney is constantly “pushing boundaries.”

Gunlock writes about two major issues in the article. First, that TV shows displayed on the Disney channel (including Disney XD – which was created for a specific age group) are producing more and more child characters who display “a regular dose of vulgar speech, crude jokes and insolent behavior on a channel designed for kids.” Second, Disney is, as Gunlock puts it, “attempting to address the transgender issue.”

Unfortunately or otherwise, the writer only explicitly submits a single episode from a single TV show as specific evidence of both issues being displayed at once, which raises several important questions.

  1. Is the writer attempting to assume a correlation or prove a connection between being transgender and being “disrespectful to authorities” in this article? Maybe not overtly? But the existence of the article at all begs the question. Why bring up these two entirely different issues with Disney’s programming if you aren’t trying to make a bigger point or draw more broad conclusions?
  2. Does the writer have a problem with transgender people, specifically transgender youth? It certainly seems so. Not very original, though:
    1. In October of 2017, the Department of Justice released a memo, “sent out to U.S. attorneys and the heads of federal agencies, concerns the administration’s position on Title VII, the civil-rights statute that outlaws certain kinds of workplace discrimination.  For nearly three decades, courts have been arguing over the definition of sex discrimination, which Title VII and other statutes prohibit. Particularly in recent years, some legal advocates—and government agencies—have argued that discrimination on the basis of sex includes bias against transgender people. Their claim is that discrimination against transgender people solely based on their gender identity is a form of sex stereotyping, which the Supreme Court has long ruled impermissible.” –Emma Green
    2. Only 15 states and the District of Columbia have any laws explicitly stating the protection of transgender workers on the basis of gender identity.
    3. Even our transgender youth themselves struggle to like, much less love, themselves:
      1. 83% of those who identify as transgender ideate
        suicide. (Hyun, Raff, & Trier, 2012)
      2. 32% of those who identify as transgender attempt suicide. (Hyun, Raff, & Trier, 2012)
    4. Found at http://www.wa-schoolcounselor.org/files/transgenderpresentation.pdf
    5. “The Human Rights Campaign provided a statistical breakdown of the 102 killings since January 2013. It said that 88 of the victims were transgender women, and that nearly all of them were black or Hispanic. Nearly three-quarters were under age 35, including four minors. And 55 of the victims were killed in the South, including 16 of this year’s victims.” -David Crary, TIME, November 17, 2017
  3. Does the writer have a problem with children responding to adults who are in the wrong, or simply with the way in which children respond to adults in the wrong?
    1. The author gave no indication that she encourages or applauds children who defend themselves or their friends from abusive, toxic, or bullying adults. She also gave no indication that she would condemn it, to be fair. She emphasized the manner that the children employed within the context of a specific scenario.
    2. But, because she failed to provide any other examples, I’m left to believe that her problems have more to do with Disney promoting transgender inclusion, rather than kids defending themselves or their friends from discriminatory adults.

You Can Do Better, And So Can Your Kids

The author mentioned a second show’s existence (Andy Mack, featuring a transgender youth), but did not indicate any episodes, lines of dialogue, or general character behavior to support her point. The show she did explicitly mention, as you can see in the clip above, is a cartoon. It features a cast made up of a large number of partially-human and completely non-human characters. I do not believe this constitutes legitimate evidence for whatever point the author is attempting to make.

Furthermore, the singular moment in a single episode of a single show produced by Disney (the cartoon clip above) doesn’t even feature a confirmed transgender youth. The kid in question cross-dressed for a princess party. That doesn’t make him transgender. But if it did, why does that negatively affect your kids, Gunlock?

  1. Are you under the impression that any person in a position of “authority” is worthy of your child’s respect and obedience?
  2. Where is the proverbial line in the sand for “authority”? Does it include any person wearing a uniform? Over a certain age? Holding a specific position/rank?
  3. Don’t we want to teach our kids to stand up to bullies? Don’t we want to teach our kids to stand up to abusive persons, regardless of their purported amount of authority? Don’t we want to teach our kids to defend the weak? The defenseless? The powerless?

How does viewing a cartoon “transgender” kid, or his friends defending him from discrimination/bullying/abuse make your kids worse people than they already are? Who are you teaching your kids to defend from bullying, discrimination or abuse? Who are you showing your children are worthy of their protection, their love, their care?


Author’s Final Statements

In the last couple paragraphs of Gunlock’s article, the author states “In response to activist pressure, most corporations give lavishly to environmental causes. Corporations are told they must diversify their workforce. As such, most major corporations, both old and new, have initiated a variety of badly managed “Corporate Diversity Programs” that have done nothing more than increase tension in the workforce. Corporations do these things because the public demands it — and to avoid lawsuits.” The author cites zero sources and offers absolutely no evidence for these statements.

  1. What do “lavish” donations to environmental causes have to do with anything?
  2. Diversity in the workplace creates tension, an almost accurate claim:
    1. According to two researchers from MIT, Ellison and Mullin, gender-diverse workplaces are, indeed, more tense than primarily same-sex workplaces. Gunlock never cites a source for this, though. Furthermore, she never poses a question as to why this tension occurs. Perhaps the rampant occurrence of workplace sexual harassment has something to do with the tension in gender-diverse workplaces?
      1. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission released a 2016 report “which concluded that “anywhere from 25% to 85% of women report having experienced sexual harassment in the workplace.” It’s a strikingly wide gap, but one that is very substantial even in its most conservative estimate — statistically predicting one in four people are affected by workplace sexual harassment.”
      2. Furthermore, Tara Golshan of Vox writes that the reports estimates “that 75 percent of all workplace harassment incidents go unreported altogether.” Nice job glossing over the reality of sex-based tensions in the workplace, Gunlock.
  3. What the heck is wrong with the mass populace demanding better behavior from the corporations who disproportionately benefit from our labor force and our money? Arguably, your money is the most powerful amplifier you can add to your voice as a concerned citizen.

Some Things To Consider, Reader

  • Disney is a corporation built with the sole intention of creating revenue. It is not a moral body.
  • Gunlock’s attempt to create an article that didn’t feature any sources for her claims is, at best, bad journalism.
  • There is no correlation between being a transgender youth and being “disrespectful” to “authority figures.” Even if some legitimate study produces such a correlation, that correlation is not evidence of causation. 
  • It is my goal, as a parent, to teach my kids to utilize critical thinking, specifically in circumstances wherein they or someone they know may be in danger from an authority figure. If, for example, their friend or classmate, or even themselves, is being shamed for dressing in a particular way by an “authority figure,” I hope my kids know to ask questions like, Is this person a true authority? Is the shame in question a helpful criticism or an unnecessary reaction to something out of the norm? Is the child being harmful? Is the adult being harmful? Is there a way to defend my friend/classmate/self while maintaining a respectful composure? What is the right thing to do in this situation? What are the consequences for doing nothing? Ultimately, I hope to raise kids who can identify a scenario where they need to speak up, and support the type of growth in them that allows them to actually speak in that moment. I won’t be perpetuating silence and blind obedience in my kids. Instead, I will teach them to use their voices to protect others, maybe with a respectful tone. Maybe not.
  • Workplace discrimination (anyplace discrimination) against transgender people is real, and is costly. According to a report by T. Brown and J. Herman of the Williams Institute, “By eliminating discrimination in the workplace for Florida’s transgender residents, the state could save more than half of a million dollars each year in state Medicaid expenditures alone.” That’s just one state’s savings in just one area of the transgender “issue.” As a tax payer concerned with the future of my country’s economy, that’s an incredibly frustrating statistic to read.
  • There are lots of ways to educate yourself on legitimate transgender issues and the manners in which you can offer real assistance. This site offers many of the resources you may be looking for. This presentation may help with anyone beginning their education on transgender issues, with an emphasis on vocabulary.

My name is Chelsey Mick, and this is how we don’t need Disney to support our parenting practices and WE SUPPORT TRANSGENDER YOUTH.