The good news is we probably wouldn't have had this discussion a few years ago. Not because transphobia wasn't an issue, but because not enough people cared. The fact that we rattled off dozens of examples of hate is, weirdly, an improvement from when it would have gone unnoticed by everyone except the targets. Transphobia used to be the default, not something worth taking note of and calling out. It's also a good sign that Amber was able to write Mizhena into that game without any issues on the developers' end. "The process was smooth internally. No one raised concerns over her backstory. The potential for internet storms certainly adds some tension to those decisions, but Beamdog's always been about great stories. That's not going to change."
This is what progress looks like. Advancement is met with walls of fiery hate hiding behind a thin veneer of "tradition" or not wanting to get "political" ...
... as if demanding depictions of trans people be prohibited isn't itself a political stance. Every civil rights movement in history has been met with this exact response ("An interracial couple on a sitcom? Why do you have to interrupt my entertainment to shove politics down my throat!?"). In virtually every case, a decade later, those same people will claim they were on board all along. 15 years after boycotting her show, JCPenney hired Ellen DeGeneres as their spokesperson.
In every case, what the enraged protesters can't seem to grasp is that for audience members who are a part of the marginalized group, their exclusion is what breaks the fantasy -- what's supposed to be fun escapism becomes a reminder that the real world is trying its best to render them powerless and invisible. Every gamer wants to slay monsters, to be that cooler version of themselves. And as one trans gamer told us, that's what the best games do. They let anyone, regardless of how reality treats them, feel awesome. "My first forays into presenting as a gender other than the one I was assigned at birth were in games. I remember Professor Birch of Pokemon Sapphire fondly for being the first person to ask me 'Are you a boy or a girl?' and then accepting my answer without objections."
"Hey, you're alright for a member of the massive child-exploiting energy cartel."
All they need from the rest of the gaming community is for them to do nothing at all -- to simply not fly into a rage at the mere mention of their existence. Is that too much to ask?
Seriously, is it?
Special thanks to FemHype for their invaluable assistance. Mark is on Twitter and has a book.
Zoroastrianism used to be one of the biggest religions in the world, but their idea of heaven had a slight twist on it: To get there you'd have to cross a bridge, sometimes rickety, sometimes wide and sturdy. If you fell off, you'd go to the House of Lies for eternity. Fun! Not terrifying at all! This month, Jack, Dan, and Michael, along with comedians Casey Jane Ellison and Ramin Nazer discuss their favorite afterlife scenarios from movies, sci-fi, and lesser-known religions. Get your tickets here, and we'll see you on the other side of the bridge!
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Ways The Gaming Industry Is Way More Sexist Than You Think and 5 Things I Learned Making The Biggest Flop In Game History.
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