A spin-off of the mega-popular computer-animated kids’ series Paw Patrol has introduced the franchise’s first nonbinary character.
While the original Nickelodeon series centers on a team of search-and-rescue dogs, Rubble & Crew focuses on English bulldog pup Rubble (voiced in the new series by Luxton Handspiker), who takes on a variety of construction projects. In a recent episode, Rubble and his crew meet River, a skateboarding, photography-obsessed kid who tasks them with building an observatory so they can photograph a shooting star.
LibsofTikTok posted about the character last week, sparking outrage.
As PinkNews notes, the episode, “The Crew Builds an Observatory,” never explicitly addresses River’s gender identity or their pronouns. However, following its August 21 U.S. premiere, the episode’s writer, Lindz Amer, made it clear that River is the Paw Patrol universe’s first-ever nonbinary character.
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An author, screenwriter, activist, and performer, Amer is the creator and co-founder of Queer Kid Stuff, a website that features kid-friendly video series discussing LGBTQ+ topics as well as resources for parents and educators. In a September 2 Instagram post, Amer revealed that Rubble & Crew producers brought them on to consult on the Paw Patrol franchise’s first nonbinary character and write the episode in which they were introduced.
“Talk about a bucket list item!” Amer wrote.
“I wanted to write a nonbinary character that was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to,” they continued.
Amer noted that the show’s producers found “an awesome nonbinary actor to voice River” in Cihang Ma and pointed out the character’s sneakers, which feature the colors of the trans Pride flag.
“I’m so so happy about how it turned out,” Amer wrote.
Predictably, conservatives are outraged by the character. “I regret to inform you that Paw Patrol has gone woke,” right-wing troll and former music video director Robby Starbuck wrote in a post on X (the social media platform formerly known as Twitter) in which he also accused Amer of “indoctrinating” kids “into the trans ideology.”
Libs of TikTok, which previously spread the misleading rumor that Paw Patrol had intentionally included the URL of a pornographic website on the packaging of its branded cookies, tweeted that it “Sounds like @pawpatrol is run by groomers who are after your kids.”
Conservative sites the Daily Caller and Talk TV both published sneering articles about the character in which they misgendered Amer.
Paramount, which owns Nickelodeon, previously introduced another nonbinary character in one of its kids’ properties. Late last year, Paramount+ animated series Transformers: EarthSpark saw the debut of that franchise’s first openly non-binary character, Nightshade (voiced by nonbinary actor and writer Z Infante).