If you’ve never heard of My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, allow me to summarize it as best I can: It’s the BEST. It’s about magical ponies who love one another solving their problems using basic human (pony?) decency, and it feels like a warm hug from a cashmere sweater filled with puppies.
Now, one of the biggest plot points on the show are “cutie marks” (those pictures that appear on their flanks) that ponies attain once they figure out who they are and what makes them special and unique. The show has played around a lot with the theme of discovering your identity and staying true to yourself, so naturally the show has some pretty clear LGBT undertones to it.
According to Reddit user and r/transgender member putmeinthezoo, one episode in particular, “Magical Mystery Cure,” rather accurately mirrors gender dysphoria. The episode deals with the main heroine, Twilight Sparkle, accidentally switching around her friends’ identities. Her friends, now forced to be someone else, end up severely depressed trying to live someone else’s life until they remember who they are. For a kids’ show, that’s actually a pretty sharp plot.
The first part, with the really unhappy friends, hit close to home here – we went through a long period of depression at our house until my spouse figured out who she was and accepted that she was transgender.
[. . .] I thought it was pretty similar to living your life being told that you’re one thing (ie, gender) and at some point figuring out that you’re unhappy because you’re really another. When I first saw it with my kids, it really resonated with what I dealt with regarding my spouse’s struggle.
As a few other users pointed out, the episode has some problematic areas where the metaphor falls apart — a somewhat rushed climax where Twilight uses magic to remind everyone of who they are, not to mention the whole “everyone is ponies” bit — but that probably has more to do with time constraints and cartoon logic than anything else.
If you’re curious, you can catch the episode on iTunes, Treehouse or even YouTube. Now, it’s worth remembering that everyone’s life story is different: some people are going to watch an episode like this and have it resonate and some won’t. No two people have the same life experiences, but at the very least, we all share the same core values: being true to yourself and treating others with kindness.
If you’ve seen the episode, feel free to chime in: Did it resonate with you? Did you find some problem areas? Is Fluttershy the best pony? (Yes she is.)