Good representation of transgender and non-binary folks is hard to come by in video games. Take Hainley from Mass Effect: Andromeda as an example. Bioware got a large amount of negative feedback from the community because how they handled this character was not true to many transgender peoples’ experiences. So, even though the pool of characters to pick from is small, the list of characters that are represented well and respectfully is even shorter. But there’s hope. Here are some of the transgender and non-binary characters that have been done well and hopefully inspire more representation in the future.
Cremisius Aclassi – Dragon Age: Inquisition
Krem is a personal favorite of mine, mostly because he hit the gaming consoles right around the time I was thinking about my own transitioning. But the way Bioware treated this character is very different than how they dealt with Hainley. Not only is Krem well represented in this game, but he’s also surrounded by people who accept him for who he is and would give up anything (like an eye, in The Iron Bull’s case) to keep him out of harm’s way. It’s extremely heartwarming and gives people who are transitioning hope that things will get better.
Fl4k, Zer0, and Lorelei – Borderlands 3
Borderlands has always been kooky, tongue-in-cheek fun and I think the creators rarely take themselves seriously. But what they do take seriously is character creation, background, and growth. Fl4k, Zer0, and Lorelei are all considered non-binary. Although there are some problems with giving robots non-binary genders, despite this, Fl4k is a great character with plenty of depth to their background and personality. Zer0 has been around since Borderlands 2 and, although their background is shadowed in mystery, they have always been a confident, badass character that takes no flak from others. Lorelei, on the other hand, may be an even more interesting character than the former two. Although considered non-binary, they have been thinking about transitioning from female to male. This information can be pieced together from Echo logs you find in the game and really highlights the sort of thought processes many transgender people go through.
Miranda Comay – Watch Dogs 2
Who doesn’t need a powerful, black transgender woman in their life? You’ll get exactly that with Miranda from Watch Dogs 2. Miranda is a wonderful, intelligent, well-rounded character that is not only respected by other in-game characters but is also in a position of power as a councilwoman. What more do I have to say? Ubisoft did a great job fleshing this character out.
Janeva – Horizon Zero Dawn
Janeva is only a minor character in Horizon Zero Dawn but is definitely a cool one. However, it’s unknown whether Janeva is a transgender man or non-binary (or perhaps just gender non-conforming). There are never any gender pronouns assigned to Janeva. However, given that Janeva is of the Carja, a tribe in the game, and the Carja’s naming conventions seem to assign vowels to the end of female names and consonants to the end of male names, Janeva, despite their gender identity, was most likely assigned female at birth. I personally enjoyed the representation of Janeva in this game for the fact that at no point in time does the game actually tell the player Janeva’s gender. Your gender is no one’s business but your own so it felt significant that the developers left it out.
Bloodhound – Apex Legends
This one is on here mostly because Bloodhound has a really cool character design and they have great mechanics. But also because the creators behind Bloodhound have been adamantly supporting Bloodhound’s gender through thick and thin. Some players have used the fact that Bloodhound is voiced by Allegra Clark, a woman, to bash non-binary identities and posit that Bloodhound is also a woman. Both Clark and the writers for Bloodhound have been very outspoken on the fact that Bloodhound, from day one, has always been a non-binary character and will continue to be. I couldn’t ask for better support.
There have been more and more forays into creating transgender and non-binary characters in the gaming industry. Although some of these ventures have resulted in weak characters that don’t emulate the trans/non-binary experience, there are still other characters that have been developed well and with genderqueer folk in mind. I expect we’ll only see more well-rounded genderqueer characters take the stage in the future. Who is your favorite transgender or non-binary video game character? Let us know on twitter.