To continue finishing up on the concept of representation in video games I think the best way to tidy this whole thing up is by showing examples of transgender characters in video games. So far we’ve been going purely by characters that have been obvious examples. However, because of the nature of transgenderism, the whole point of an honest representation of the concept is to NOT be obvious. Not to say there aren’t obvious examples but we want to show the more honest characters here as opposed to those who are there as mockeries only. That being said if we do show any sort of humor in relation to transgender characters here it will be mockery of transphobia, not mockery of transgender people themselves.
Now we have to be a little more strict on the rulings this time around because of what we are talking about. So I’m going to be very clear on this from the beginning. We are defining transgender characters in the same way as they are in the real world. Those transitioning from one gender to another (MtF/FtM) as opposed to male characters dressed as women or female characters dressed as men to hide their true nature. This means that Cloud Strife and Faris Scherwiz from Final Fantasy WILL NOT be on this list as they still identify as their respective genders personally but take on the opposite gender’s look and pronouns temporarily to hide their true natures to infiltrate a group. Cloud to save a female friend and Faris to become captain of her pirate crew. Let’s hammer this in!
When it comes to transgender people in video games there is always two that first come to mind; Poison and her palette swap Roxy. Who are they? Well, they are former members of the street gang Mad Gear who kidnapped Mayor Mike Haggar’s daughter in Final Fight. This wasn’t their brightest idea but after that, they ended up leaving the gang to manage former gang mate Hugo’s (Andore) wrestling career, something that brought her into the World Warrior tournaments of the Street Fighter series. Basically, she became not so much an antagonist as an anti-hero. One of the funny aspects about her development is she was originally going to be cisgender. However even back in the 90’s they were trying to avoid run-ins with feminist groups so they said “Oh, she is transgender. Most feminists are Trans-exclusionary right?” This goes back to my earlier theories of Japan seeing through most feminist bullshit at a base level.(Source: http://streetfighter.wikia.com/wiki/Poison)
Next game we are going to touch on has transitioning as part of the storyline. Rex Nebular, a little known Microprose point and click adventure in which the titular character has to go to the planet Terra Androgyna, which is populated with unusual alien women who despised men. In other words, it’s a planetary gender studies course. So to perform his mission well… Maybe you should play through the game for yourself. Believe me, it’s quite an unusual sight for the time. (Source: http://retroism.com/rex-nebular-and-the-cosmic-gender-blender/)
Well, that may seem kind of lackluster, as it doesn’t compare to our next example. This one is a love interest….of sorts. In Leisure Suit Larry: Magna Cum Laude. One of the girls you date is secretly transgender. I won’t give up which one because as always I want everyone to play these games somehow. If you know who I’m talking about then good for you but just to let you know they are shown as a creative and enjoyable person who is extremely independent and strong willed. The only time it goes south is when Larry finds out the truth and bolts. But they are at least semi-friendly after the fact. Although now a days that entire game might end up getting reported misogyny and well… (Source: https://www.gog.com/game/leisure_suit_larry_magna_cum_laude_uncut_and_uncensored)
Anyway back on to the mission at hand, this next one for me was more choosing one over the other because I want to stick to one per series over this and in the long run, I figure the best to go for is the most ironic: Vivian from Paper Mario and the Thousand Year Door. Of course, the irony isn’t over the Mario bit but over the name. Now while this isn’t in the English text it is official over in Japan. Anyone who knows of the politics at Nintendo of America knows why this is a thing, though. The Big N’s American branch is notorious for its censorship as far back as 1986. Several key titles didn’t even get to come over here because of this strictness and arrogance, at least until the ESRB. But enough about that. Vivian starts off as an antagonist but eventually joins your party in the game and is considered a fairly powerful partner by fans of the game, although technically she had to die to finish her transition. Kind of morbid now that I think about it. (Source:http://www.mariowiki.com/Vivian)
So I can hear you asking now, “Alright Alex, you couldn’t POSSIBLY have a fifth example this time right? Good transgenders have to be as rare in games as they are in real life right?” Well, first and foremost, I, like most of us, don’t think our identities should be made up of one aspect of our character. The ones I’ve listed so far are all ones that over their history have had strong amounts of character development and this one is newer but is still well developed, not to mention that this one is Female to Male. The character I’m talking about is from Tekken: Leo. Now it can be argued that NamcoBandai officially identifies Leo as a ‘she’ or her birth gender but overall, the gameplay mechanics and the way the character is depicted in various media is as masculine even if occasionally seen with some female traits. The way I translate this is as follows: Leo (born Eleonor) is in the midst of evaluation before and may be taking hormones already. Games for this series are still in development so we’ll just have to wait and see how they take the character overall. I, however, predict that Leo will officially become a he as time goes on, depending on the popularity of the idea. (Source: http://tekken.wikia.com/wiki/Leo_Kliesen)
So I managed to pull that off. Although a few might disagree and say I pulled a few examples out of my ass. So as always I dare any who read this fully to try to one up me and improve this list in the comments! I’ll take you on any time here! All it will do is improve our chances of shattering the narrative pit against gamers and men’s rights advocates more and more until they have nothing left! So where do we go from here? Well in the spirit of the Thursday’s Honey Badger Radio’s question on the future of Men’s Rights I’m thinking that the next two episodes will be on positive mentors or role-models from video games: Both males and females! Until then, keep remembering to Game Freely!