Private Eye has caused controversy after teasing a front cover featuring a transphobic joke.
The image, which was posted to the satirical magazine’s Facebook account, showed a picture of Batman and Robin with the caption ‘Robin Comes Out.’
Speech bubbles on the image show Robin saying ‘Batman, I’m bisexual,’ with Batman replying ‘That’s nothing – one of our enemies identifies as a penguin.’
As well as being a reference to the comic book villain Penguin, it’s been pointed out that the ‘joke’ is a variation of the transphobic ‘attack helicopter’ meme, which mocks the idea of self-identification when it comes to one’s gender or sexuality.
Though Private Eye is known for its contrarian satire, many readers clearly see this latest image as unnecessarily offensive. The post has been widely shared and criticised on social media, with one person tweeting ‘nice to see private eye recycling the same attack helicopter joke.’
‘Lazy. Insensitive. Dismissive. Don’t print it,’ another person commented on Facebook.
Meanwhile, one reader suggested an alternative caption, which read:
‘Batman, I’m bisexual.’
‘Cool, Robin. One of our enemies identifies as a penguin. How fab it is that everyone can be their authentic selves these days.’
‘He’s still evil though, right?’
‘Yes, Robin. LGBTQI+ people can be superheroes, arch enemies, or anything in between – just like everybody else.’
In recent years a growing number of ostensibly liberal publications in the UK have promoted ‘gender critical’ arguments, which supporters of trans rights argue fails to accept the basic idea that trans women are women, and seeks to deny trans people the agency to determine their own identity.
If you’ve been affected by any of these issues and want to speak to someone in confidence contact Mindline Trans+ on 0300 330 5468. The line is open 8pm–midnight Mondays and Fridays and is run by trans volunteers
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