Conservative writers and politicians are moving on from their battle to stop kids from learning about sexuality and gender identity in schools, having already found success in Florida, and are taking aim at a new target: children’s media.
On Wednesday, Disney released six episodes of their new series Baymax!, a spin-off of their 2014 movie Big Hero 6.
The third episode of the series follows Sofia as she gets her period for the first time right before she was supposed to perform with her friend at the school talent show. Sofia freaks out, and struggles to find the word for a tampon in her memory, which she desperately needs. Baymax, the titular healthcare companion robot, explains to her that she’s “referring to menstrual hygiene materials” before leaving to go to the store to find some.
At the store, Baymax stands eying all of the different brands and sizes before asking a woman which product she usually uses. She gives Baymax her usual choice before the rest of the customers in the aisle chime in with their recommendations, with one saying that she prefers pads before a man wearing the transgender flag turns around and gives Baymax his regular choice — tampons with wings.
The grocery store clip blew up in conservative Twitter circles, with City Journal contributing editor Christopher Rufo tweeting it out saying that teaching kids that transgender men can have periods too is a part of “Disney's plan to re-engineer the discourse around kids and sexuality.”
\u201cEXCLUSIVE: I've obtained leaked video from Disney's upcoming show "Baymax," which promotes the transgender flag and the idea that men can have periods to children as young as two years old.\n\nIt's all part of Disney's plan to re-engineer the discourse around kids and sexuality.\u201d— Christopher F. Rufo \u2694\ufe0f (@Christopher F. Rufo \u2694\ufe0f) 1656458365
The tweet went viral because of Rufo’s newfound celebrity status in conservative circles, but he hasn't always been quite this popular. In fact, Rufo was once a fringe writer focused not on sexuality, but on poverty. He claimed that poverty wasn’t a political issue but rather a “social, familial, even psychological” one, and that homelessness was a “human” issue spawned by addiction and mental illness rather than by systemic issues. His ideas were notably unpopular in the city where he lives — Seattle — where he unsuccessfully ran for city council in 2018, being denounced by residents of the city as a “fascist” and “white supremacist.”
In 2020, Rufo got his hands on anti-racist seminars from Seattle, which became his calling card. He spent the next two years leading the crusade against Critical Race Theory, saying that it “pervaded every aspect of the federal government” and was an “existential threat” on Tucker Carlson Tonight. His writings on the so-called evils of Critical Race Theory became so popular in conservative circles that he flew out to sign the Stop WOKE Act with Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, which bans the teaching of race and diversity in schools and workplaces and went into effect on Thursday. Rufo’s ideas on sexuality and gender, now a staple of his politics, would be used in the same session to justify the Parental Rights in Education Bill, more commonly known as the “Don’t Say Gay” Bill, which was signed by DeSantis and went into effect today despite outcry from the vast majority of educators in the region.
Media companies have become Rufo’s latest targets of scrutiny. First, with the Stop WOKE Act, he barred the entire Floridian public from getting an education on racial issues. Then, with the “Don’t Say Gay” law, he stopped children from getting an education on issues of gender identity and sexuality. Now, with his crusade against Baymax!, he’s attempting to shame Disney away from educating children on those issues in the media, essentially blockading any information.
Rufo’s crusade against Disney isn’t new isn’t a new one. In March, he published an article in City Journal claiming that Disney had a “child-predator” issue, citing CNN reports of Disney park employees and security guards who attempted to solicit sex from minors. Rufo ended the article claiming that Disney needed to stop “promoting gender ideology” in elementary school classrooms and needed to weed out the issue of “predators from within their company’s ranks.”
This idea that Disney is a company filled to the brim with child predators has been used as an attack against the new Baymax! episode, with Bryan Slaton — a Republican congressman from Texas who introduced legislation at the start of June that would ban children from drag shows — claiming that teaching kids that transgender men have periods too is an attempt from “sick adults” to “sexualize” kids.
Coming off of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, which revoked the right to abortion earlier this month, the education on periods that the third episode of Baymax! provides is more important than ever.
As we move into the Supreme Court’s next term in October — in which Justice Thomas argues the Court should “reconsider” Lawrence v. Texas and Obergefell v. Hodges — LGBTQIA+ rights are under attack, with the right to queer intimacy and marriage in question.
The criticism of the Baymax! episode is the cultural equivalent of this — effectively giving children no place else to learn about sexuality and gender identity; it's an attempt to control the entirety of the queer experience from birth to death.