A Latina Lesbian Mom on the Beauty of Doc McStuffins

It's Not Just a cartoon

My partner and I were about two hours outside of London, two more from our destination, and our toddler was getting restless. No amount of “I spy with my little eye” was going to interest her, nor was another nap. We decided to stop at a gas station, which we knew from previous trips to England would include a coffee shop, a convenience store, and most importantly, a bookseller. New books, perfect!

Approaching the kids’ aisle with a sea of bright colors ahead of me, I was slightly apprehensive about the choices. Would it be cloying or sexist in its marketing? My daughter loves pink, so I knew she’d go for the first bright pink cover. Imagine my joy when she squealed, “Doc McStuffins! Can we get that one?”

“Yes, we can!”

We bought several Doc McStuffins items and headed happily (and quietly) toward our destination.

Doc McStuffins has been a star in my house for a long time and for many reasons. She’s a smart, kind doctor, and a person of color just like my daughter, who’s Latina.

When I heard an upcoming episode of the Doc McStuffins cartoon would include two mommies, I was thrilled.

My daughter is the most important person in my life, and I want to give her everything, most especially confidence and the understanding that with hard work and open heart, she can do anything in life.

That’s not as easy as it may seem for two reasons. Firstly, she’s Latina, and Latinx people are severely underrepresented in media. Secondly, she’s got two moms ― and LGBTQ people, especially families, are also underrepresented. What, then, are the implications of that invisibility?

I think sometimes it’s hard for people to understand how damaging invisibility can be, but as a lesbian Latina who has worked in the media for years, I am acutely aware. It hurts because not only do you not see people like you, but the culture around you never sees people like you ― and treats you differently as a result. And make no mistake, when I say differently, I do not mean kindly. “Otherness” in our society is often treated with cruelty or indifference.

When you’re ignored you are sent a message that you don’t matter. Growing up a lesbian in a very heteronormative culture definitely impacted me. I never saw people like me in films or television, and that kept me from having a sense of belonging.

This sense of belonging, which many people have without giving it a thought ― much as they take in oxygen or sunlight ― is something that LGBTQ people, people of color, and people with different abilities or faiths often have to work hard to attain themselves.

When I heard a group had organized to protest Doc McStuffins for portraying same-sex parents, I was saddened at first (not surprised, please, I work at GLAAD) and then angry.

The most galling was their implication that mine is not a family. They write, “Families will not be able to allow Disney Channel in their homes if the network veers away from family-friendly entertainment.”

So a show that includes a family like mine is not family-friendly; so we’re not a family? Families come in all shapes and sizes: sometimes the people raising a child are her two abuelas (grandmothers) or her dad or his single mom or his two dads. The people who love and care for a child — they are their family, not what a group trying to raise money by sowing dissension and hate has deemed a family.

I’m truly grateful for the creators of Doc McStuffins ― and Elena of Avalor or Dora and Friends and so many other shows that work hard to have inclusive stories or casts, even when their leads are white.

Good writing, good characters, and fun stories that are diverse are my must-haves as a parent, and I’m not the only one. Many millions of parents and abuelas and aunties and uncles of all ethnicities want to buy and consume products that make everyone reading feel included.

We want characters who entertain, teach, and inspire and who mirror the world in all of its beautiful diversity. It’s not just a cartoon, it’s my kid’s sense of belonging. And that, no one can have ― not even a handful of angry individuals who think making everyone feel good and included is somehow wrong.

MONICA TRASANDES is the director of Spanish-language and Latinx media & representation at GLAAD.

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