Cheadle hosted SNL in what was a bounceback episode for the Saturday night sketch series. When he introduced musical guest Gary Clark Jr., the Black Monday star sported a shirt saying, “Protect trans kids” in all caps. The silent but powerful message was a reminder that trans children, as well as much of LGBTQ youth, face startlingly high rates of abuse and suicide.
Protect trans kids shirt raises LGBTQ awareness
Donald Trump, who promised to be an ally to the LGBTQ community during his 2016 presidential election, has gone back on that promise by attempting to ban trans soldiers from serving in the military, planning a government redefinition of gender to erase the marginalized community from gender-related protections, and bolstering so-called ‘religious objection’ protections for people to discriminate against queer Americans.
The call to ‘protect trans kids’ is more than just an anti-bullying suggestion. The world is not a safe place for transgender people—especially queer children with less-than-understanding parents. The ostracization of trans people in the media and in the government suggests to observant transgender children that their country thinks something is wrong with them. Trans teens, not surprisingly, face higher rates of suicide than their cisgender classmates.
Trans Twitter praises Don Cheadle shirt on SNL
Growing up transgender (or gender non-binary) is difficult enough without the government legislating against your personhood. Cheadle’s show of solidarity proved to be a powerful message for many on the internet. The LGBTQ community took to Twitter to express their joy and gratitude at the quiet—but not subtle—support.
— Q. Allan Brocka (@allanbrocka) February 17, 2019
Don Cheadle wearing a shirt that says “Protect Trans Kids” on Saturday Night Live is monumental in many ways. He’s A+ actor, a heterosexual black man, and he wore this shirt on national television.
Thank you sir, for bringing awareness to our youth trans community.
You Rock! pic.twitter.com/J3WOG39Kha
— Mr. Weeks 🤴🏾 (@MrDane1982) February 17, 2019
— Tristan Fay (@TransparentTris) February 17, 2019
We have a new favourite Avenger. ❤️ https://t.co/BTQqg5PNmr
— PinkNews (@PinkNews) February 17, 2019
It’s awesome when performers use their celebrity to raise awareness for a great cause. Of course, where there’s a great message, there’s someone on the internet to say #ProtectAllChildren…which is why Cheadle’s amplification is so greatly needed.
Don Cheadle’s “protect trans kids” shirt makes me sad.
Of course we should protect ALL kids. But part of protecting children should be letting children be children. Being or becoming trans is a very ADULT concept and decision.
— Question Everything (@notgroupthink) February 17, 2019
Don Cheadle takes stab at Donald Trump on SNL
The Protect Trans Kids shirt was not Cheadle’s only notable fashion choice. During SNL’s closing credits, Cheadle came out wearing a Soviet Union hockey jersey. The red jersey was emblazoned with CCCP—the Russian abbreviation for the USSR. The wardrobe may not make much sense until Cheadle turns to hug musical guest Clark Jr. and we can see a big 45 on the back—with Trump stitched across the shoulder blades. The Avengers star pulled no punches in making strong but simple political statements during his first Saturday Night Live hosting gig.
Don Cheadle wore a Soviet Union hockey jersey with “Trump” and “45” on the back at the end of SNL after hosting. Shade level: Masterful pic.twitter.com/hrDjPRulXy
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) February 17, 2019