Macho (Wo)Man Randy Savage Cameo
November 15th, 2019 – South Park has been accused of transphobia after mocking trans female athletes in the latest episode of the long-running adult cartoon. In the seventh episode of the 23rd season, a person channeling late wrestler “Macho Man” Randy Savage is depicted as a trans woman entering the Strongwoman Competition. Of course, she speaks in a low, growling voice and claims to have been living as a woman for only two weeks.
The Matt Stone/Trey Parker-created show has long been an “equal opportunity offender” taking aim at all types of minority groups. But that defense doesn’t hold up for trans writer Mey Rude. She said the episode only perpetuates lazy tropes and puts trans people in harm’s way.
“I love comedy and I love edgy comedy, but this isn’t that,” she wrote for Out. South Park is targeting an oppressed group which is already in the crosshairs of the federal government on a daily basis, a group it has already mocked and ridiculed for literally decades.”
The episode, titled “Board Girls,” finds Heather Swanson as a trans woman going for blood in a competition against Strong Woman, a character who is vice principal at the elementary school and partner of PC Principal. Strong Woman is asked how she feels about a trans woman competing and says she is happy about the inclusion.
Heather, on the other hand, doesn’t want to wade into the topic of transitioning. When asked by a sportscaster about the timing of her new identity, she responds by saying “I’m not here to talk about my transition. I’m here to kick some fu**ing ass.”
“I can’t tell you how free I feel now that I’ve started identifying as a woman,” “Heather” also says in the episode. “Now that I can compete as female I’m ready to smash the other girls!”
South Park: Trans Athletes in Woman Competitions
— Cadreinth (@Cadreinth) November 14, 2019
As the episode wraps up, it is revealed that Heather is obviously just a man; one who had previously dated Strong Woman and was seeking revenge. Heather may have ended up winning all the categories in the competition, but the episode didn’t take top prize for trans athletes and other members of the LGBTQ+ community.
Rachel McKinnon, a transgender world track cycling champion, called the story, jokes, and overall attitude “lazy.”
“I’m not particularly mad about the South Park episode,” she said in a Twitter thread. “Yes it’s transphobic. Yes it’s lazy. Yes it contributes to harm to trans women and girls. But they’re lazy and increasingly irrelevant. Fuck, Futurama made the same stupid storyline in 2003. Transphobes don’t have new jokes.”
She went on to say that this transphobic approach isn’t anything new and suggested a simple way to combat it.
“South Park has been deeply transphobic the *entire time.* This isn’t their first explicitly transphobic story line. It won’t be their last. Stone and Parker are transphobes. Write them off. Ignore their lazy show.”
While some people found the episode funny and thought it actually wasn’t parody but a real depiction of what is happening by allowing trans people to compete against the gender they weren’t assigned at birth, Mey Rude, again, rebutted those claims.
“Most trans athletes have to adhere to very strict hormone testing before they are allowed to compete in accordance with their gender,” she wrote. “For example, a trans woman who wants to compete in the Olympics must demonstrate a testosterone level below 10 nmol/L for at least a year before their first competition. Secondly, this just a repetition of the world’s oldest trans trope: the idea that trans women are just men in disguise up to no good. So even if it wasn’t actively harmful, it would still be the laziest possible depiction of transgender people.”