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Nintendo reveals that the new Mario game will have a trans character

Cheerful lesbian couple playing video games together while being seated on a sofa at home during the day
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Nintendo — the video game development company behind Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda — revealed that a remake of their 2004 video game Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is slated to revive a character’s transgender identity.

The remake has the character Vivian explicitly discuss her gender identity in dialogue with Mario, stating that after she realized she was a girl and not a boy, her evil siblings started to bully her.

In other words, the villains in this game are transphobic.

Vivian is a villain that later becomes a hero over the course of Mario’s adventure, eventually teaming up with him on his journey. She’s initially a member of the group Shadow Sirens alongside her two sisters, Marilyn and Beldam.

In the Japanese version, Vivian was derisively referred to by male pronouns, being called a “man” as an insult multiple times. This was cut in the English localization, where she was insulted for her appearance.

Ellie, a transfeminine gamer, told LGBTQ Nation, “I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t really excited to learn about Vivian, and I think it sets a precedent for more representation in the future.”

This isn’t the first time Nintendo has put a transgender character in its games. In the Japanese manual for Super Mario Bros. 2, released in the late 1980’s, the character Birdo was revealed to be transgender.

However, fans point out that this was not the greatest representation, as it was treated as a joke.

“It’s a little weird how Nintendo has been lagging behind in terms of queer rep, like you’d think they’d have had a canonically trans character in a major franchise earlier than now,” Ellie continued. “I guess there was Birdo, but that was treated as like a joke, like ‘Haha, ew, he thinks he’s a girl!’”

Nintendo has been in controversy in the past, when they neglected to include same-sex marriage options in their 2014 release Tomodachi Life. They apologized, stating that it wasn’t possible to fix through an update.

Since then, they’ve been much more visibly supportive of LGBTQ+ individuals, announcing in 2022 their recognition of marriage equality and their implementation of sexual orientation and gender identity protections in the company policy.

Other games have LGBTQ+ representation hidden in dialogue options. Animal Crossing: New Horizons has two characters implied to be in a gay relationship, and Fire Emblem: Three Houses has multiple same-sex dating options for your player character.

The reaction to Vivian’s gender identity has been positive.

Marceline, a transfeminine Nintendo fan, said to LGBTQ Nation, “It marks a certain level of societal acceptance. Nintendo as a company to me has always been pretty apolitical and very marketable… and companies like that acknowledging trans people existing is just a sign of the steady march of social progress.”

“More than making me feel seen, it makes me feel relatively normal.”

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