No transgender cartoon torsos please, we're Facebook

Wendy Pini, creator of a decadent sci-fi version of Edgar Allan Poe's Masque of the Red Death, learned the hard way that one does not simply post paintings of blue-skinned hermaphrodite event planners with indeterminately-gendered breasts to Facebook. [Lez Get Real]


  1. Elfquest is a HUGE part of the reason I am who I am today, and I still love it. If you haven’t encountered it, go to the website and start reading. It’ll hook you quickly. You can read all of Elfquest online for free. I recently reread all of it. All of it.

    1. It’s great. I grew up on the original four graphic novels. I have looked through most of the site, and recommend it, although I haven’t figured out how all the new series fit together, so I end up reading one which refers to comics I haven’t seen yet.

  2.  While I have no prior knowledge of ElfQuest or Pini, I did take a look at the uncensored variant of the painting, and it looks totally female to me.  I’ve seen my share of futa/trans/hermaphrodite hentai, anime, and western and this is far more subtle, and a quite beautiful piece of artwork.

    Also: Since when does Facebook give a flying fuck about decency.  It’s boxing itself into some very tight corners when it begins to decide what is offensive.  It’s so much better off just being a dumb pipe + Ad Platform.  Why in the world would it hobble itself censoring drawn art?

    1. Because “oh my god! think of the children!”

      ETA: By the way, where might one be able to view the uncensored version in order to appreciate it and form their own opinions on it?

    2. Why should it matter if it is male or female? How do the same body parts on a female somehow become indecent? Facebook is promoting the stigma that says that barechestedness is okay, but toplessness is indecent.

      1. I don’t know why. I’m just noting that as an outsider who hasn’t read any of the literature, that I just don’t see any ambiguity. If you read my comment, you’ll notice that I only gave a personal evaluation of my perception of the subject’s gender. I don’t care in the least what gender s/he is, and my position is that censorship is obscene anyway

        1. I should have been more clear in my post, but I wasn’t criticizing you (my questions were general, though they were sparked by your classification of the art as female). I understood that you though that censorship was obscene, which I agree with.

      2. Because women are inherently indecent of course! They need to be censored. Unless it makes money, then it’s okay obviously.

      3. There was one of those medical TV shows about a male-to-female gender reassignment surgery. They showed a picture of the guy with his shirt off. After it was done, they blurred out her nipples. They’re the same nipples!

    3. am i missing something — where is this uncensored variant? no links, and my google-fu is failing. i need it for… uhh… completeness… err, research… umm, to understand the plight of this cartoonist. yeah, that’s it.

      1. Image search, safe search off for ‘bunchh pini’

        tell the spell check “yes I really do mean ‘bunchh’


        The terms I used stopped working, but here’s a link to the *uncensored* version (lemme know if this isn’t okay) I found in my history then reupped to imgur to prevent a nuisance to anyone,

        2nd Edit:
        I know I’m supposed to ask permission before copying art (on an etiquette basis, I have little to no respect for corporate copyright), but since Ms. Pini uploaded the artwork to Facebook, I’m taking that as implicit permission to copy with attribution.

    4. Since it came to trans people…. Facebook has repeatedly removed trans related content including but not limited to pictures of FTMs after top surgery. In violation of their own guidelines.

      And banned a good number of trans members.

    1. Well, at least several hundred million people and things claiming to be people, if you want to count the shrieking hoard of fakeware and bots churning out nothing important

  3.  I thought it was odd that it said “Wendy Pini, creator of a decadent sci-fi version of Edgar Allan Poe’s Masque of the Red Death”. I read that, and I thought, this must be a different Wendy Pini than the one who made Elfquest, because surely that would be what she is best known for, and therefore be the thing you would mention in a bio.It would be like saying “The Rolling Stones, performers of the song Sway……”

  4. Facebook’s regulations say it doesn’t allow nudity or sexually suggestive content, so why is it remarkable when they don’t allow it? Is it because the artist is well known she should be allowed to ignore the rules?

    And that’s totally a chick. Having small boobs doesn’t make you “ambiguous.”

      1. Breasts and no penis does tend to be a compelling argument, unless you know of some way check the chromosomes on crayon?

        Further, Pini’s argument is that she drew an ambiguous character and that Facebook decided it was female, except the character’s appearance is not remotely ambiguous (their censor bar suggests a lot more than what the actual picture has.)

        Frankly, the issue here is that she broke the rules (“no nudity or sexually suggestive content” ) then, when the site reacted as they said they would, manufactured outrage by falsely claiming discrimination.

        Or, for that dash of irony, on the site that reported about the censorship dissenting opinions disappear. And Facebook just takes down pictures that break their policy, the person behind the article (or even Pini) made the censored version.

    1. “Facebook’s regulations say it doesn’t allow nudity or sexually suggestive content”
      Does it actually, or did you just make that up?

        1. and if you follow your links one more step you come to this page with a far more ambiguous statement about facebook’s “regulations” on nudity.

          “Facebook has a strict policy against the sharing of pornographic content and imposes limitations on the display of nudity. At the same time, we aspire to respect people’s right to share content of personal importance, whether those are photos of a sculpture like Michelangelo’s David or family photos of a child breastfeeding.”

          facebook does not ban all images with nudity.  unless a complaint is made claiming that the nudity is pornographic.

          anyways…reading is your friend.

    2. Much as I think this kind of censorship is stupid, I do agree with Facebook that it’s sexually suggestive. Even if the image is supposed to be of a male, it’s still sexually suggestive, and Wendy Pini knows it.

      Mind you, I still think the censorship is stupid. But I don’t make Facebook’s rules. Move to G+ if you don’t like Facebook’s rules.

  5. What nobody has mentioned yet, is that Facebook itself doesn’t censor anything until someone complains. Someone from her page felt this image was obscene, reported it, and some drone at Facebook agreed. And I can’t say I blame them — when it comes to content filtering like this, companies are always going to err on the side of caution — and pretty much everyone here seems to be agreeing that this image is a bit unclear.

  6. So, if I have this right, Facebook’s policy is that it’s okay to show gore and horror, violence and killing, bullying of others, but it’s absolutely not okay to show art that is essentially non-erotic, depending on the POV of the person viewing it?  And this is a popular policy HOW?

  7. What about the fact that several days before posting this she posted pin-ups of two male characters with no complaint? Bare-chested and, hell, one of them even showed a little bit of – what’s the technical term? a hint of wang. (There, that was classy.)

    This is still on her FB page, I think.

    So that’s fairly hypocritical of FB, no?

    Edited to add URL of the image attached to this post, which is owned by Wendy Pini and Warp Graphics:

  8. Wendy said on her page: “Since I’m deep back into “Final Quest” I’d like to put a cap on the “Bunchh boobhaha” with this. If you read the BoingBoing article, you’ll notice in the comments there are a few folks who are pointing out that I should not complain because I broke Facebook’s rules. Here is something I posted on the official Masque of the Red Death page that addresses that: “No one’s heard me complaining about the brouhaha today. It’s been fun and it has inspired some intelligent debate, which I love. Frankly, if you will scroll down a bit on this official Masque page, you will see a VERY nude (even slightly tumescent under the veil of hair) pinup of Steffan. No one complained and Facebook didn’t censor that one. For those who’ve pointed out that I didn’t follow Facebook rules, the absolute truth is, I thought no more about posting sweet, harmlessly frisky Bunchh than posting sultry Steffan. We’ve all seen so much more questionable material on FB (update: I’ve done some homework recently on images that Facebook has allowed and this statement is more than true!). It never occurred to me there’d be a whoop at all.” Richard and I both use Facebook extensively. We appreciate it for what it is and what it does for us. A debate on its arbitrary and inconsistent exercise of censorship is good.”

  9. I posted the uncensored photo here:

    The character in question is not male or female, as decided by Wendy Pini.  H/she (the pronoun Pini uses) is a hermaphrodite with both male and female genitalia.  The fact that the character favors feminine hair and clothes is irrrelevant.  
    The most fascinating point to me is the fact that unless you are a reader of the Pini’s Masque of the Red Death and knew this, you would judge a book by its cover and assume this character was female.  And therefore, according to Facebook’s rules, if not wearing a shirt, is obscene should be censored.

    If this character has a buzz-cut and was sitting on a bed with blue sheets, but was otherwise the same, it’s doubtful the image would have been censored.  

    And yes, to mcv’s point, the image is sexually suggestive – but only very mildly so.  And as a long time fan of Pini’s work, I’m quite certain that her response to that criticism would be “so what?”  The sexual nature of this photo, to me, ranks below a Victoria’s secret ad and certainly lower than a lot of what  you can see on prime time TV.  And again I’m sure Pini would argue that a little nudity and mild eroticism is a lot less obscene than the violence that pervades our entertainment media yet isn’t censored.

    And to Brian Flowers’ point, the only reason it was censored is that someone reported it.  On Pini’s Facebook page, readers have posted other examples of artistic (and sexually suggestive) female toplessness that Facebook has not censored — as well as very erotic, shirtless males with much bigger breasts than Pini’s character Bunchh.

    The point is that there’s a ridiculous double-standard in our society about showing male vs. female breasts, and also that as a society we are so rigidly bound by gender roles and stereotypes that we are utterly confused and made uncomfortable by anything that blurs those lines.  In this instance, Facebook is simply a vehicle for that confusion.

  10. Is Bunchh transgender? S/he’s intersex (a hermaphrodite), that’s established, but I don’t think it’s established that s/he’s transgender.
    I think s/he blatantly states, in the text, that s/he wanted to but could not bear children, but it’s not exactly the same as being transgender (it’s not clear, in the text, what gender was “assigned” to Bunchh at birth, just that s/he prefers to present as female.)

    This may seem like quibbling and I’m not the most qualified to assign definitions, but wanted to throw it out there.

  11. I find photos of poor abused or dying animals much more offensive then the beautiful art work created by Wendy. I hate animal abuse ( or any other form of cruelty) and find cruel photos deeply disgusting, but it pains me dreadfully to view the photos of hunting trophies or poor abused creatures posted on facebook. How dare facebook ban art and allow worse images to be freely sprinkled on the pages daily?

  12. Well now she has learned something about Facebook’s policies.

    Admittedly, not being permitted to spam this one cartoon to her ‘friends’ is a HUGE concern that eclipses Facebook’s considerably less sinister sharing of private information. If she’s smart, she will at least use this injustice as a small opportunity to whip up outrage for the purpose of gathering more friends to her Facebook page.

    I guess I’m feeling too cynical today. She probably already closed her Facebook page because she care’s that much about art.

Comments are closed.