Transphobia in Video Game Communities

          It can be frustrating being a fan of video games and involved in video game communities while also being transgender. Aside from suffering through all the annoying tendencies that become commonplace in video game forums, we have to deal with the transphobia and unfortunately ignorance.

          I do a lot of reading about video games (although, not as much this semester due to a heavy work load). When I do, I read the comments. I probably shouldn’t. Internet comments are the worst things in the world. Some of the comments I’ve seen have made me very upset. What upsets me more is the frequency of the comments. I’m sure many people have seen these comments and I am also sure many overlook them.

          I remember a few particular articles that were filled with transphobic comments. While reading one of those articles I ran into so many comments that I had to say something. The article was about Poison, a character from the Final Fight and Street Fighter series. The character, as I understand it, has a somewhat ambiguous sex and a confusing history. I won’t go into the details as that would require a lot of time and I am not knowledgeable enough about the character. I will say that I have seen no evidence to suggest that Poison’s gender is anything but female.

          The most common comments that I read under that article were the standard and expected crude comments about wanting to have sex with Poison. I have mixed feelings about these comments regardless but I will mostly ignore these for my purposes here. A surprising number of these comments, however, used male pronouns and, possibly worse, the word “it” to describe Poison. I wanted to reply to all of the comments but there were too many to respond to and singling out one person would be inappropriate. So I put my own reply in the comment section, separate from the others. I tried to address my concerns as well as I could and mentioned how aggravating it is to read these comments as a transgender person.

          I was surprised to find replies. I found some supportive replies including one person who’s partner is transgender but there were also people contesting my claim. One person said that it didn’t matter because Poison is a character so that they can call her “it” if they want to. I had to get a little personal. I recalled a moment when I was watching NCIS and they started calling a trans woman character “he.” At first it was just annoying but by the end of it, it was painful. It affected me and managed to bring me to tears even though the character is fictional. This story did nothing to convince them. The fact that I received opposition was troubling enough but that they wouldn’t budge after I said it bothered me was worse. There is no courtesy in the world left when someone can say “these words upset me” and other people go out of their way just to say they won’t listen.

          When I first heard about Poison. I was looking at cosplay images. I love cosplay. I saw an attractive girl(I confess) and I didn’t recognize the character, so I asked. Someone responded with a quick description of who she is but they dropped the T-word. I assumed no harm was intended so I quickly told them the word is offensive and moved along. They apologized and the whole matter ended. That was a more preferable outcome but it also highlights the unfortunate ignorance I mentioned earlier. People just don’t know about trans issues so whenever I can I try to teach people when they are using offensive language. It can be tedious and tiring but I feel like I have to educate people where I can. I feel like in my own small way I can improve the circumstance we live through.

          I won’t even go into the many arguments I got into over the gender of the character Kaine from the video game Nier. All of those heated debates were actually from before I started to identify as trans.

          I don’t like to throw the word transphobia around carelessly but that’s what it is. Even the ignorance while not ill intended probably stems from within the historical context of a transphobia. A little bit less would be nice but for now I suppose I will just keep doing what I do. I will continue to do as one supportive commenter said and “Keep fighting the good fight.”