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The Steven Universe season finale was about trans people, fans say

Josh Jackman January 28, 2019
A shot of Steven Universe, a Cartoon Network show which fans say has a trans subtext, overlaid with tweets

Steven Universe has been praised for its trans subtext (Cartoon Network and Twitter)

The Season 5 finale of Cartoon Network’s Steven Universe has been praised by fans for its incredible trans subtext.

The show, whose creator Rebecca Sugar came out as non-binary in July, has won plaudits for exploring gender and showing a lesbian proposal—and wedding—last season.

In its latest episode, “Change Your Mind,” the cartoon creates a wonderful trans story, featuring main character Steven struggling to convince his biological family, Blue, Yellow and White Diamond, that he is a boy.

After winning over Blue and Yellow, who stop calling him by his mum’s name—Pink Diamond—and start calling him Steven, he takes on White, who still believes he’s actually his mum pretending to be a 14-year-old boy.

Watch the climactic Steven Universe scene here (spoilers):

To prove this, she physically separates Steven from his gem—a pink diamond embedded in his stomach which his mum also possessed.

Rather than turning into his mum as White expects, the gem forms a pink version of Steven, while a gem-less Steven lies helpless on the floor, pleading: “No, please—I need it!”

This leads White to ask: “What is this? Where is Pink?” to which Steven yells: “She’s gone!” so hard that it blows a giant crater in the ground.

The moment in Steven Universe, which has been praised for telling a trans story, in which Steven yells: "She's gone!"
Steven yells: “She’s gone!” so hard that it creates a crater (Cartoon Network)

The two Stevens make their way towards each other, prompting White to tell him: “I only want you to be yourself. If you can’t do that, I’ll do it for you,” before blasting him with attacks.

She fails to stop him and he reforms into one Steven, telling his best friend Connie: “I’m me. I’ve always been me.”

The culmination of a scene in Steven Universe which has delighted trans viewers
Connie hands a gem-less Steven back to gem Steven (Cartoon Network)

White still refuses to accept this, pounding the floor with her fists as she shouts: “No! You are Pink Diamond! That is Pink Diamond’s gem!

“You do not look like this. You do not sound like this. You are not half-human, you are just acting like a child.”

Steven Universe finale delights and surprises trans fans

The episode and this scene in particular were praised by viewers for accurately representing a trans person attempting to convince intolerant or unwilling family members of their true identity.

One fan tweeted: “y’all is this NOT a trans narrative?? There are so many parallels to being trans – including a literal physical change… including the family not adjusting, not understanding.

“The parent insisting you just ‘go back’ to how you were before, saying you’re playing pretend, being immature. Like you’re doing all this to spite them, instead of trying to live your happiest life.”

“Each and every line resonated within me so deeply, it’s truly made me have a different outlook on everything.”

— @felidawnn

Another said: “Oh. My. God. Steven Universe has sincerely touched me in a way I never thought possible. Throughout this last episode I was sobbing harder then I have in ages.

“As someone who only recently came out as trans, this was everything I needed to hear. It taught me so many beautiful lessons I didn’t even know I needed to hear.

“Each and every line resonated within me so deeply, it’s truly made me have a different outlook on everything.”

A different commenter said: “Steven Universe really became a metaphor about coming out as trans to ur family. EVERY PART OF THAT I WAS LIKE… YEAH THAT’S THE TRANSNESS.”

And yet another tweeter wrote: “I thought for forever that Steven Universe was a cute show with queer subtexts but now realise that it’s been 5 seasons about being trans and being true to yourself no matter what others and think and I can’t believe I didn’t realise it sooner.”

Some fans heaped praise on the moment earlier in the episode when Blue corrects Yellow when she calls Steven “Pink,” telling her: “She prefers to be called ‘Steven.'”

“Why is this f**king episode about the relationship between my mum and me.”

— @danielF640

One such viewer tweeted: “Omfg I’m so late but I’m watching Steven Universe special and omg it had trans feel especially when blue diamond said her name is Steven .”

Another quoted the “She prefers to be called ‘Steven'” line before adding: “I am on my floor crying. I am actually f**king crying I hate this so much why is this f**king episode about the relationship between my mum and me.”

The season ends with Steven playing a song with the same name as the episode, in which he sings: “I don’t need you to respect me, I respect me / I don’t need you to love me, I love me.

“But I want you to know you could know me / If you change your mind / Change your mind.”

This, too, was celebrated by fans, like the one who tweeted: “I nominate Steven Universe‘s ‘Change Your Mind’ (the song) to be the new trans anthem.”

Another said: “being queer & trans and listening to “change your mind” (the song from the new Steven Universe episode #ChangeYourMind) was an EXPERIENCE and i LOVED IT and i’m CRYING.”

More: change your mind, entertainment, pink diamond, rose quartz, steven universe, Television, Trans, Transgender, Twitter, US, US, white diamond

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