Representation Matters: Trans*women
By Charlotte “Charlie” Humphries
I’m going to ignore the comments made about the lack of playable female assassins in Assassin’s Creed: Unity – a history lesson, Ubisoft? – and instead I am going to discuss something just as important as the representation of women in video games and that is the representation – and inclusion! – of trans*women.
Because, when was the last time a game – be it a AAA, indie or crowd-funded title – feature a trans*woman in a serious role? A character that was not implemented for comedic value, transphobic reasons, or out of sheer ignorance, but a trans*woman who was carefully researched, written and included as more than a token character? And why is it that whenever such a character is included that the game is shot down, ridiculed or the target of such deep hatred?
Because transphobia is still rampant throughout society whether people want to acknowledge it or not. Because people are ignorant still – a failure of the educational system – and ignorance always leads to a fear of the unknown. Because news stories about hate crimes against trans*women are given minimal coverage, spun in such a way so that maybe the victim deserved it, or ignored altogether.
This vicious circle will never be broken unless studios take a deep breath and take the plunge into the representation pool. Don’t make the entirety of the character based around the fact they are a trans*woman, but certainly include it and move on with other aspects of their personality. Tasteful representation is the way forward, small, baby steps until enough support can be rallied – because the haters will be circling – and then the developers can go full speed ahead with their trans*women.
There are, of course, examples of video game characters from throughout gaming’s history that are trans*women. The most famous is Birdo from Super Mario Bros. 2 – who would rather be known as Birdetta. Another example is Poison from Final Fight who, while born male in the game, has since been confirmed as a trans*woman. However, it seems to be the case that they get brushed under the carpet and not celebrated.
Yes, I will continue to bang the representation matters drum because this is important. To create a tolerant world we need to recognize and celebrate everybody and not just the white, straight male. And while it is true that other media such as film, television and books also need to gear up towards more tasteful representation of trans*women, video games are still two steps behind at the moment. Lets change that lets move them to the forefront and lead by example.
If you know of any recent games – published or still in development – that feature trans*women, please leave details in the comments so we can celebrate them.
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[author image=”http://cliqist.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/01/charlotte.jpg”] Some say that Charlotte can smell incorrect spelling from three miles away. It is actually four and a half, but let’s not split hairs. When she isn’t proof-reading or playing games, Charlotte spends her days at community events cosplaying as Deadpool, or cat herding. Her favourite video game character is Patricia Tannis. If you want to read more of her ramblings, head over to http://www.humphriesck.wordpress.com.[/author]