Every year, the small town of Bassersdorf, Switzerland builds a “Böögg” — a large doll that’s set alight for Sechseläuten, an annual celebration at the end of April and the beginning of spring.
Typically, a Böögg is created to represent a snowman and is meant to signify the end of winter. In the past, Bassersdorf has opted to go in a different direction. Instead of winter, Basserdorf has created its effigies to represent people who they deem negative, including dictators like Kim Jong-Un and Muammar al-Gaddafi, according to LGBTQ Nation.
This year, the town created one in the likeness of a trans woman, which it called the “Diversity Böögg”.
The Böögg was dressed in a rainbow skirt and red tie. It had long blond hair and makeup on one side of its face, while the other had short, curly dark hair. It also had visible breasts and a penis, the latter of which was meant to be revealed by wind, Zuri Today reports.
“When it blew up the Böögg’s skirt, many spectators grinned,” master of ceremonies Christian Weiss told the outlet. “On Facebook, you can now choose the gender from a wide range of options,” Weiss explained. “It was the same with the Böögg this year. It has different features and there is something for everyone.”
Weiss explained that the intention was to focus on a current event but they felt that anything about the ongoing pandemic or the war in Ukraine would be too sad, so instead, they opted for the “happy fun” idea of burning a trans woman in effigy.
For those speaking out against the design, Weiss said that they’re simply reading too much into it. He explained that it’s not an attack on any one person, but rather a statement against “rampant narcissistic hypersensitivity and the pathological lack of humor.”
The town’s mayor, Doris Meier, issued a statement apologizing to anyone whose feelings were hurt by the event or for whom “the action triggered different opinions on this sensitive topic.” She stated that she didn’t believe that was the intent.
“I am convinced that those responsible did not want to offend anyone but wanted to draw attention to the topic of diversity,” Meier said.
There was one 82-year-old resident who didn’t find the effigy burning to be “happy fun” and instead filed a criminal complaint against the municipal county, calling the ceremony “inhuman” and saying that the “distorted image” affects a particularly stigmatized group of people.
The local prosecutor hasn’t pressed charges based on the complaint. However, the resident also reported the ceremony to the Equal Opportunities Office of the Canton of Zurich, its director Helena Trachsel told local media, according to Queer.de.
“Any degrading gesture that violates a person’s integrity is inadmissible,” she said, referring to the Equality Act and anti-discrimination regulations in Switzerland. “The municipal council has to think for everyone. It has a role model role.”