Non-Binary Transformer Causing Major Backlash on Social Media

Two seasons have been enough for “Transformers: Earthspark,” the new animated series from Paramount+, to capture the attention of social media, but not for the reasons you think.

The debate began after several Twitter users began sharing clips from the one season of the series, which brings to the forefront a situation that has aroused feelings and discomfort.

The Viral Clip Sparked Controversy

In the clips that thousands of people have shared, you can see Nighthade, one of the characters that have taken the ‘Transformers’ saga to expand the universe.

Then, there’s Sam, a somewhat frightened girl who seems to calm down after Nightshade introduces herself in a somewhat peculiar way.

“My pronouns are they/them.”

The conversation becomes more personal and touches on topics that some parents might not be comfortable with.

“Sometimes the world can be a scary place. It’s hard to know who’s dangerous or not,” continues Sam just before the phrase that has generated the most controversy. “I know I’m safe when I’m with my friends or other non-binary people.”

Mixed Reactions From The Public

The response from the audience has not been long in coming.

“The worst part is they imply that the world is evil and you can only trust non-binary people.” Opines @pk13510, a Twitter user who has expressed what many seemed to agree with. “This is the most sinister message you can send to a child. Absolutely revolting.”

The series is rated TV-Y7, which means it is intended for children ages 7 and up. However, some people are concerned that the content may not be appropriate for all children.

“I don’t have children, but I’m thinking if I did, they would have no unsupervised access to TV or the internet, at least until the age of 12-14. Too much too soon is so harmful based on what we are seeing today…the innocence of being a child is taken away.”

Not everyone has had a negative reaction to the show. Some people, like @WC_WIT, believe that it is a positive thing to see a non-binary character in a children’s show.

“Watching more Transformers Earthspark and deeply wishing I’d had a character like Nightshade in the shows I watched growing up. Happy nonbinary kids watching now have something that can help them contextualize their feelings.”

Fans of the Transformers franchise have also shared their thoughts on the show.

“Nightshade is a cool character, and I look forward to getting their action figure.  Being non-binary is part of the character and I have mad respect for that.” Commented @BWTF_Ben for those who were still hesitating to give the series a chance. “Remember, Optimus Prime himself said: ‘Freedom is the right of ALL sentient beings.'”

Embracing Diversity To It’s Fullest

Like Nightshade, there are other non-binary Transformers in the comics, as well as a number of gay, transgender, bisexual, and gender-fluid characters. The Transformers franchise has a long history of representing diversity.

Since these are robots, the genders do not seem to apply as we are used to. The very nature of the saga gives room for ambiguity. For this reason, some comic book fans are defending the creators’ intentions above any moral or social debate.

“I can’t get over how these people are refusing to watch/read two of the best parts of Transformers (the IDW comics and Earthspark).”

“People are throwing a sh** fit about Transformers Earthspark having a Nonbinary transformer. Wait til they find out it’s been a thing since IDW took over the comics in 2005!!!!”

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The Up-And-Coming Prequel

The controversy surrounding the show has continued to grow on social media, and it is unlikely that this will be the last time the Transformers franchise is at the center of a debate about representation.

Rise of the Beasts” has already been announced, a new installment of the saga starring Arcee, a ‘Transformer’ identified as a “forged male,” who has recently transitioned in the comics to introduce herself with the pronoun “she.

So far, it is unknown whether the film will respect the change made in the comics, but everything seems to anticipate that the saga is willing to broach this subject in their stories.

Thus, everything seems to indicate that Nighthade will be the first of many Transformers that will begin to appear in our lives and not only in social media.


Featured Image: Faiz Zaki // Shutterstock

I'm an Irish tutor and founder of TPR Teaching. I started teaching in 2016 and have since taught in the UK, Spain, and online.

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