GI Joe and Trans Identity

In 1964, Hasbro introduced the now-classic line of poseable action figures known as G.I. Joe, the name a play on the generic term for soldiers in the US military. G.I. Joe was the brainchild of Manhattan licensing agent Stan Weston who presented them to Hasbro executive Donald Levine in 1963. The original 12" toys were marketed as ‘action figures’ with Hasbro explicitly forbidding sales reps and retail venues from using the term ‘dolls’ to refer to them. Anyone caught referring to them as dolls faced a fine. As GI Joe became increasingly popular, retail venues were more than happy to comply. The ‘action figure’ moniker stuck through subsequent iterations where GI Joe was rebranded to meet changing times.

Social Pressure and Identity

So what does GI Joe have to do with transgender identity? Allow me to give you an example. When I began coming out to people as transgender a common reaction I got was confusion, with the respondent wanting to be supportive, but lacking a framework

Dolls are Dolls

The reason I bring this up, and the point of this article, is the toys I was playing with in my childhood, and that millions of boys played with, were dolls. Don’t believe me, just look at these two soldiers!

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GI Joe Man of Action — with life like hair!
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Barbie enlisted in the Army in 1989, followed by the Air Force, Navy and Marines.

Written by

Transgender data scientist and parent to two children.

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