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What’s so funny about a snowman in a tiara? Exploring gender identity and gender nonconformity in children’s animated films

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The year 2014 has been dubbed the ‘trans tipping point’, a new era of acceptance towards trans and gender-nonconforming identities. In addition, in recent years, children’s animated film has seen an influx of characters and storylines that appear to celebrate gender diversity. Using inductive and deductive thematic analysis, we examine the gendered messages in top-grossing children’s animated films from 2012 to 2015. Drawing from our analysis, we argue that such alleged gender diversity applies only to a narrow subset of characters in children’s animated film – and these same characters also often function to reinforce oppressive ideas about gender, race and sexuality. Ultimately, despite the visibility of gender diverse characters in and outside children’s film, we caution against premature celebrations that would regard such visibility as progress.
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Keywords: animated films; children’s films; femininity; gender identity; gender nonconformity; genderqueer; masculinity; transgender

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: 1: Ball State University 2: Miami University

Publication date: 01 March 2017

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  • Queer Studies in Media & Popular Culture (QSMPC) is a refereed academic journal devoted to the study of representations and expressions of queerness in its various forms. International in scope and representing a wide variety of disciplinary and interdisciplinary approaches, it publishes scholarship on topics at the intersection of media/popular culture and queerness in gender/sexuality. QSMPC invites articles and artwork pertaining to queerness in media and popular culture, as well as reviews pertaining to recently released queer media artifacts.
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