Conservatives are losing it over a nonbinary robot in “Transformers”

Nightshade (right, voiced by Z Infante) in Transformers: EarthSpark
Nightshade (right, voiced by Z Infante) in Transformers: EarthSparkPhoto: Nickelodeon/Paramount+

Anti-LGBTQ+ conservatives are once again losing their minds over a kids’ show. The latest target of their outrage: Transformers.

The latest installment in the film, TV, and toy franchise, Transformers: EarthSpark, premiered on Paramount+ last November. The computer-animated series follows a team of alien robots who can transform into various vehicles and animals, and one prominent character just happens to identify as nonbinary. Nightshade (voiced by nonbinary actor and writer Z Infante) was introduced in the first batch of episodes that dropped late last year using they/them pronouns.

“He or she just doesn’t fit who I am,” they explain in one episode.

While many fans applauded the show’s inclusion of Transformers’ first explicitly nonbinary character, Nightshade seems to have flown under the radar of the conservative outrage machine until last week.

On May 11, anti-LGBTQ+ activist Chaya Raichik posted a clip from a recent EarthSpark episode in which Nightshade bonds with a human character who uses she/they pronouns on her Twitter account, LibsofTikTok. “The world can be a scary place. It’s hard to know who’s dangerous or not,” the character says. “I know I’m safe when I’m with my friends or other nonbinary people.”

The character then explains to Nightshade that nonbinary means “people who aren’t female or male.”

“I always knew my pronouns felt right,” Nightshade responds. “What a wonderful word for a wonderful experience.”

“They’re after your kids,” Raichik tweeted.

By Friday, both Laura Ingraham and Megyn Kelly had picked up on Raichik’s post. Kelly retweeted the Libs of TikTok tweet, writing, “This is disgusting.”

“I object to the normalization of this,” Kelly said of the clip on the most recent episode of her podcast The Megyn Kelly Show. “People who suffer from genuine gender dysphoria have a real problem. This is not something to want for your kid. So I object to the attempt to normalize it instead of otherize it. I actually believe in otherizing it… This is something that will really F you up.”

On Friday’s episode of her Fox News show, Ingraham accused the show of “shoving these inane pronouns down the throats of seven-year-olds.”

Setting aside the inanity of professional media personalities getting so worked up over the gender identities of cartoon robots—i.e. machines that, as gaming site Kotaku notes, are essentially asexual—this latest instance highlights the degree to which LibsofTikTok is driving anti-LGBTQ+ outrage on the right.

Raichik has used her account to accuse teachers, parents, activists, and doctors of “sexualizing” kids through LGBTQ+ media content, drag performances, and gender-affirming medical care. Her posts have led to death threats against medical professionals and rescue sheltersarmed protesters at drag events, and the harassment and firing of LGBTQ+ allied teachers.

Last week, UC Berkeley Human Rights Center researcher Brian Nguyen identified a pro-Hitler social media post believed to have been written by the gunman who opened fire at an outdoor mall in Allen, Texas that cited Libs of TikTok as an inspiration.

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