Birdo: Gaming’s First Trans Character (Preview)

This is just a preview of the article I wrote for New Normative. If you want to see the full article along with pics please visit: http://newnormative.com/2017/10/26/lgbtqia-representation-in-gaming-birdo/

As time goes on we’re seeing more and more transgender and LGBTQIA game characters introduced to the world. When LGBTQIA people are included in some sort of media people are often quick to pick it apart and figure out whether the representation is positive, realistic, and helpful or whether it has harmful implications, misinformation, or hate. However, it’s not often that we look at the representation of characters from our past.  What better place to start than at the beginning?  Birdo may not be the first LGBTQIA character, but she is the first transgender character in gaming. Looks like Nintendo has more firsts under their belt than we thought.

Who is Birdo?

Birdo is a character that has been around in the Mario franchise almost as long as our marvelous mustachioed friend. Remember the pink dinosaur with the bow who keeps spitting eggs at you in Super Mario Bros 2? Yep that’s her. Since her short lived rivalry with Peach, Mario, Luigi, and Toad she has moved on to become a regular in the Mario series. Appearing in games such as Mario Tennis, Mario Kart, and the Mario Party series to name just a few.

In the manual (pressed sheets of trees that used to come with games) included with Super Mario 2 Birdo was shown with the description “Ostro, he thinks he is a girl. He’d rather be called Birdetta”. This was 1988, so most people at this time weren’t all that aware of transgender people. They didn’t know misgendering was a thing or that it’s an inappropriate thing to do. Because of the wording and misgendering in her origin she is the subject of heated debate to this day.

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