Cartoon Network rebooted the cartoon Powerpuff Girls recently and the show is charging into mostly uncharted territory with an episode featuring transgender issues. In a recent episode, Donny, a horse who knows he’s really a unicorn, transitions with a little help from his friends.
Donny wears a fake horn on his head and tells main character Bubbles, “I may not have a horn but I do have a heart, and in that heart I know I’m a beautiful unicorn!” The episode ends with a giant heart in the colors of the transgender flag.
Following a botched “transmogrifying” attempt to change Donny into a unicorn, the gang gets help from the Unicorn Coalition Alliance Brigade Headquarters and finds out Donny was always a unicorn no matter what he looked like on the outside.
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Executive producer Nick Jennings told the LA Times: “Basically when it starts out, he’s a pony, but he wants to be a unicorn. He has to go through a transformation to become a unicorn and so it’s a whole [episode that asks], ‘What are you on the inside? What are you on the outside? How do you identify yourself? How do people see you?’ There’s a lot of subtext in that.”
“I don’t think you can be too young to start talking about those issues and thinking about those things and just presenting an attitude, and a voice that is going to resonate with people.”
The original series ran from 1998 to 2005. The show’s three young female superhero protagonists was considered progressive for the time.