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Transphobic cartoon appears on Washington Post, drawing social media backlash

Transphobic cartoon appears on Washington Post, drawing social media backlash

Washington Post headquarters in DC

A political cartoonist whose cartoons are syndicated by The Washington Post Writers Group published his most recent cartooon, and it’s drawing criticism for being transphobic.

Mike Lester is a conservative illustrator and his drawings appear on The Washington Post’s website. His most recent political cartoon is about the newly completed Mueller Report.

Robert Mueller conducted an investigation looking into possible collusion with Russia during the 2016 presidential election. He recently published the report of his findings.

In the cartoon, a group of men sit at a table celebrating in front of a large, three-tiered cake. The cake reads ‘The Mueller Report’ in red frosting and a woman in a bikini bursts out of it.

Behind the table are two waiters. One of them states: ‘Wait till they find out that’s a dude…’

The cartoon, which can be see on the Post’s website and in tweets below, suggests the Mueller report, like trans women, are deceptive.

This isn’t the first time a political cartoon has come under fire for discrimination.

Last July, a New York Times cartoon about Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin was widely criticized as homophobic.

What is syndication?

The Washington Post Writers Group is a division of The Washington Post News Service & Syndicate.

A press syndicate is an agency that offers content such as columns, cartoons, articles, and more to newspapers and magazines. It grants the newspapers and magazines the right to republish.

The Washington Post operates their own syndicate.

When reached for comment by GSN, a Washington Post spokesperson clarified the cartoon ‘did not appear’ in the paper, but was syndicated.

‘We give cartoonists wide latitude in what they present,’ they further explained. ‘While we may not agree with some perspectives, cartoons serve a role in generating conversation and debate.’

The Post’s embedded audience editor Gene Park also responded to criticism of this cartoon on Reddit.

‘Thanks to everyone for sounding off on this offensive piece,’ he wrote. ‘Mike Lester is not technically an employee of ours, although we do run and administer The Washington Post Writers Group, a group of syndicated outside (and inside) columnists and editorial cartoonists.’

Park reiterated that Lester’s cartoons do not appear in the paper itself. He also confirmed the Post only employs two full-time cartoonists, Ann Telnaes and Tom Toles.

In another comment, he said he is ‘not at all acquainted with how the syndication side of the business operates’.

‘I’m trying to navigate what to do and I intend to speak up. Thanks all for your patience in light of this,’ he concluded.

What social media is saying

Many people on Twitter criticized the newspaper for having the cartoon on its website.

https://twitter.com/EvannaHodges/status/1110021382480502784

https://twitter.com/eileenshorts/status/1110365520581267457

One user noted this is not Lester’s first cartoon to showcase transphobic ideas.

Earlier this month, another cartoon by Lester appeared on the Post’s website.

The cartoon shows a track and field race, with a transgender woman in the lead. Her outfit reads ‘trans’ on the front. Behind her, two other racers have an exchange, saying: ‘I identify as a girl who just wants to compete with girls.’

Mike Lester transphobic cartoon
Another of Mike Lester’s transphobic cartoons | Photo: Washington Post

Lester has not responded to criticism or inquiries for comment.

See also

Trans webcomic author Sophie Labelle to tour the US for the first time

What does ‘Be Gay, Do Crime’ mean?

Congressman Steve King posts transphobic meme to encourage civil war