Paw Patrol spin-off Rubble & Crew has a cool new character: a nonbinary skateboarder and photographer named River

When it comes to kids’ media, there’s both scientific and anecdotal evidence backing up why representation is so important. Kids need to see themselves in the media they consume! That’s why it’s so exciting that Paw Patrol spin-off Rubble & Crew is introducing a super cool new character—and they’re nonbinary.

Last month, River, a skateboarder and amateur photographer, moved to Builder Cove, the town where the show is set. River was created by nonbinary author and activist Lindz Amer, who shared the news in a post on Instagram.

“I wanted to write a non-binary character who was aspirational and incredibly cool, someone for the pups (and kids at home) to look up to,” they wrote. “They found an awesome non-binary actor [Cihang Ma] to voice River, and I’m so happy how it turned out.”

The episode in question actually treads pretty lightly—although Amer’s Instagram post confirms that River is a nonbinary character, they never refer to themselves as nonbinary on the show or use they/them pronouns. Really, the only clue we get onscreen is that they’re wearing shoes and socks that sport the same colors as the trans flag (but no actual trans flag is shown). Still, the inclusion of River’s character on the show drew criticism from right-wing activists, who called on parents to boycott Paw Patrol for going “woke.”

Others praised the new character, including trans activist Erin Reed, who wrote on Substack, “By introducing this level of representation to children’s shows, we foster conversations about embracing differences, ensuring that children begin to cultivate a robust sense of self-worth from a young age.”

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