Women's Sports: South Park openly mocks trans athletes in latest episode

South Park

American animated sitcom South Park and its writers have entered the transgender athlete debate by openly mocking trans athletes in their latest episode.

In the seventh episode of the show’s 23rd season, named “Board Girls”, Strong Woman the wife of PC Principal comes up against a trans competitor.

Across social media, users have been expressing their outrage at the way trans athletes have been characterised by the show.

To summarise the episode, Strong Woman, who is the mother of the PC Babies, is training for an upcoming Strong Woman event and it looks as if she is definitely taking the title. However, when she arrives at the competition, a trans athlete is also taking part and destroys the competition in every event.

The rest of the episode shows how an incredibly politically correct family comes to terms with a trans athlete winning the title in what seems an unfair competition. Heather, the trans athlete, transitioned two weeks before the competition and it later emerges she is in fact Strong Woman’s ex-boyfriend.

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Strong Woman puts on a brave face and says: “It’s amazing. I feel honoured to be a part of history. I have a lot of incredible trans friends who are athletes, and so we’re all inspired this woman’s competing.”

Yet, the episode has drawn criticism, especially on social media, from some who say that it goes too far and depicts trans athletes in a dangerous way. 

Rachel McKinnon, the trans cyclist who has won medals and trophies in women’s competitions since transitioning, called the episode ‘transphobic’. 

“This isn't their first explicitly transphobic storyline. It won't be their last. Stone and Parker are transphobes. Write them off. Ignore their lazy show.”

The episode does seemingly mock trans athletes, but it has started a conversation that has often been ignored by mainstream media.

At a time where even the IAAF seemingly does not know how to label or classify trans athletes, episodes like Board Girls will always create contention. Governing bodies have not yet found a solution to successfully include trans athletes in women’s sports.

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