‘Targeting Kids’: Mattel’s Signature Barbies Now Include Lucille Ball, Queen Elizabeth, and… a Transgender Actress

Last year, toymaker Mattel honored comedienne Lucille Ball with its first Barbie Signature doll in its Tribute Collection. This year, Queen Elizabeth II received her own likeness as a Barbie after 70 years of service on the British throne. Now the El Segundo-based toy company is honoring a transgender actress, a biological male who identifies as a female, with a Barbie in the same collection. 

When launching the brand with the Lucy Barbie, Mattel told The Hollywood Reporter its Tribute Collection pays homage to “visionaries whose incredible contributions have helped shape and impact culture.”

The latest Barbie was created in the likeness of Laverne Cox. The actor garnered entertainment critics’ attention for the Netflix series Orange is the New Black. Cox was the first transgender person to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award in an acting category. 

Cox, 50, worked with Mattel to design the new doll, which is the company’s first transgender Barbie. 

“It’s been a dream for years to work with Barbie to create my own doll,” Cox said in a statement. “I can’t wait for fans to find my doll on shelves and have the opportunity to add a Barbie doll modeled after a transgender person to their collection.”

“We are proud to highlight the importance of inclusion and acceptance at every age and recognize Laverne’s significant impact on culture with a Tribute Collection Barbie,” Lisa McKnight, Mattel’s executive vice president and global head of Barbie and Dolls told Forbes. 

Cox appeared on NBC’s Today Show in May to announce the new Barbie. 

“I love her and I had so much fun collaborating with everyone at Mattel designing her,” the actor said. “But I think this year particularly when over 250 pieces of anti-transgender legislation have been introduced in state legislatures all over the country.”

Writing for The Daily Signal at The Heritage Foundation, Virginia Allen and Kelsey Bolar asked in a recent commentary “what ‘anti-transgender’ legislation was Cox talking about?”

“Most likely, bills such as Florida’s ‘Parental Rights in Education’ law, which prevents teachers from using gender identity ideology in kindergarten through third grade. Or bills like South Carolina’s Save Women’s Sports Act, which prevents biological men from competing on girls’ and women’s athletic teams,” the pair wrote. 

During a recent podcast, Allen explained what bothered her most about Mattel’s Laverne Cox Barbie. 

“I think what bothers me most about what Mattel and Cox are up to is that they’re targeting kids with not only a political message, but a political agenda that is something that could have long-term harms and is very dangerous to children,” she said. 

Bolar agreed saying that we don’t know the long-term effects puberty blockers and certain medical procedures have on young children. 

“Now there’s a Barbie doll that’s normalizing this behavior. Not just normalizing it, but celebrating it,” she noted. “And it’s so frustrating. Because they’re used to be a point with the gay rights movement where adults said, ‘Let’s just agree to disagree. If you’re an adult. You do you but leave me alone.’ And not only are they not leaving us alone, they’re not leaving our children alone. And that’s the problem here.”

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