Pixar Animation Studios has become perhaps the most preeminent name in children’s entertainment. They have been a mainstay at the Oscars for more than two decades and, this year, developed two of the five movies nominated for Best Animated Feature Film. Soul took home the award, becoming the eleventh such Pixar property to do so.
The success of their recent offerings is not the only reason they are in the news today, however.
Last week, word began to circulate that they were looking to cast someone to voice the character Jess in an upcoming project. Jess is described as someone who is “compassionate, funny, and always has your back.” They are looking for a 12–17-year-old who is “enthusiastic, outgoing, funny, and energetic” who also feels “comfortable acting in front of a microphone” and can “authentically portray a 14-year-old transgender girl.”
If that last part caught you by surprise, that’s kind of the point.
As of this writing, we don’t know much about the character’s role, the size of the part, or even if the project will be a feature-length or short film. But when it airs, Jess will become the first openly transgender character in a Pixar project. And while the company started heading this direction by including the first openly homosexual character in Onward last year—a cyclops cop named Officer Specter—it’s still a big step that caught many by surprise.
So how should we respond to this news?
To answer that question well requires looking at the issue on a couple of different levels.
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SOURCE: Denison Forum, Ryan Denison