Flat White

Transgender Barbie

7 June 2022

8:00 AM

7 June 2022

8:00 AM

Transgender Barbie is now available for purchase.

Toy giant Mattel announced last week that they ‘couldn’t be more excited’ about the doll which was made in the likeness of actress Laverne Cox.

Well of course. What could be more exciting than Ken, realising he was a Barbie trapped in Ken’s body, finally being able to exist as her authentic plastic self?

A Mattel spokesperson said the transgendered children’s doll highlighted diversity and inclusion and acceptance – you know the drill.

The announcement immediately raised a few awkward questions about how anyone would know if the new Barbie was transgender, since Barbie dolls have never had genitalia. At least, that’s what I’ve been told.

Is this just Ken with breasts and a wig? Or are we talking about regular Barbie, but taller, with larger hands and feet, dominating women’s swimming? As it turns out, Transgender Barbie looks exactly like regular Barbie with slightly bulkier arms.

It’s hard to think of this as anything but unwanted virtue signalling from a toy company looking to sell non-renewable single-use plastic to young Wokes.

That said, the logic of a Transgender Barbie is disappointingly flawed – mostly because it has overlooked poor Ken, who wasn’t given a chance to transition.

Whatever. It’s stunning and brave.

Or is it?

I’m not so sure the trans community should be applauding Mattel for taking their plastic stereotyped representation of a woman – an image that has been criticised over the years for creating unrealistic beauty standards for young girls – and using this artificial construct to represent transwomen. That seems like a bit of an own goal to me.

Laverne Cox, the personality on which the doll is based, is the transgender star of US prison comedy Orange is the New Black. After a difficult upbringing, Cox has forged a successful acting career appreciated by people around the world. No decent person would want anything but the very best for Cox.

But Barbie markets itself as a role model for very young children – are we sure about the wisdom of including gender confusion into this genre? Which audience is clamouring for transgender Barbie? Is this something little girls have been begging their parents for?

Or, more likely, is it something Woke Suits in a corporate boardroom decided was necessary to demonstrate their diversity, inclusion, and equity credentials – regardless of whether or not it was in the best interests of children?

One thing we do know is that poor sales will be blamed on transphobia.

You can follow James on Twitter. You can order his new book Notes from Woketopia here.

Got something to add? Join the discussion and comment below.

Show comments