With Trans Day of Visibility earlier this week, we could imagine no better time than to talk about a character near and dear to many in the fandom: Double Trouble. When it was announced that Jacob Tobia would be voicing She-Ra’s first openly nonbinary character, the fandom blew up— and rightly so! While there’s been more LGBTQ+ representation in media in recent years, it’s still incredibly rare to see gender nonconforming characters. Unfortunately, many times when we do see representation, it’s often rife with misinformation and harmful to the community. Because of this, I tend to approach such representation rather skeptically.
However, Dreamworks and the Crew-Ra have managed to assuage all those fears. The character of Double Trouble is more than I, a nonbinary person starved for representation, ever expected to see in a TV show aimed at younger audiences. Not only are they front and center, but they’re never misgendered by other characters or crew.
To create a nonbinary character is one thing, but to have them play a vital role is infinitely more important. Trans and gender nonconforming people make up a huge percentage of the population. By shoving them into the background, people are taught that their voices don’t matter, that they are just a minority to be acknowledged, then discarded. She-Ra does it differently, and does it right. Double Trouble isn’t some temporary character used to shoehorn halfhearted representation. They’re someone whose actions have affected the entirety of the show’s story. While not immediately apparent, the message this sends to viewers, including the many children that love the show, is that nonbinary people exist, and can be just as influential as anyone else.
Persistent misgendering is an unfortunate reality nonbinary people face each day. Using “they/them” for an individual is seen as strange and incorrect, so instead many elect to use binary terms, or avoid pronouns altogether. But someone’s identity should never be regarded as taboo, and no one should have to hide who they are for the sake of simplicity. Every single character in the show consistently respects Double Trouble’s pronouns, and the impact this has is extraordinary. It creates a feeling of safety and acceptance that many kids questioning their genders might not have at home. What’s more, being exposed to proper gender-neutral pronoun usage gives cisgender children (and adults!) a greater understanding of their trans and nonbinary peers.
Furthermore, it’s incredibly important that Double Trouble’s voice actor is nonbinary themselves. Hollywood has a long history of casting cis actors to play trans roles, which is deeply damaging to our community. The fact that the Crew-Ra put in the effort to reach out to a gender-nonconforming actor shows us that their heart is in the right place. There’s no pseudo-allyship for the sake of pleasing viewers, but rather a genuine desire to create a safe environment for trans people in media.
I usually don’t get personal here, but I think it deserves to be said that I feel more accepted than ever before. When I was a teenager questioning my gender, I felt so lost and alone. I was sure no one else felt this way. I was certain I’d never see someone like me in a popular Dreamworks show, but I definitely could have benefitted from it. Our community has grown and fought so hard for so long just for some recognition, and it’s finally paying off. We’re no longer invisible, and a new generation is growing up with the knowledge that gender isn’t as simple as male or female. It’s a slow process, but kids can finally see themselves in characters that never would have existed in my childhood. They can finally understand that they’re not crazy for questioning gender roles. They are, in fact, normal people who can be accepted in society alongside their cis friends.
Noelle Stevenson, Jacob Tobia, and the rest of the Crew-Ra have done so much more than bring an interesting character to life. They’ve spent their time and effort creating a diverse, accepting universe adored by people of all ages and backgrounds. The fact that youth today have such media available to them is heartening for future generations. With proper representation and a strong but sensitive cast, She-Ra could transform the way fans young and old perceive the world, themselves, and everyone around them.
Has Double Trouble’s character encouraged any of you? We’d love to hear your story here or on Twitter! And while you’re there, make sure to thank Dreamworks and the Crew-Ra for all the good they’ve done for the LGBTQ+ community.