I'm really feeling it!
I'm really feeling it!
Illustration for article titled Azure Striker Gunvolt and the Preferred Pronoun

This is a topic that I've been wanting to talk about for a while now, but I wanted to wait until I could address the topic with the right kind of tact and sensitivity, which I traditionally lack to a comical extent.

Before I get started, I want to let my feelings about transexual people be known right off the bat: I don't have any hatred towards them, but being that I'm not a trans person myself, it's difficult to understand what sort of things they go through. Just like I don't know what it's like to be attracted to a man (it's just not something that stimulates me in any way), I don't know what it's like to feel like you're in the wrong body, or to feel like neither sex truly represents what you are. That's an important thing to bring up, however, because a lot of people - even those that feel repulsed by trans people - just can't understand what it's like to be something they are not.


In Azure Striker Gunvolt, there is a villain of ambiguous gender. It's one of the bosses, and curiously, the game explicitly refers to this character with "xir" pronouns.

For those not engaged in the whole thing with preferred pronouns, people who feel unable to identify as male or female will sometimes make up their own pronouns. I don't know if these pronouns have any rules, but for me personally, they're kind of irritating. I'm all for a set of words that says "neither this nor that"... The one trans person I've personally interacted with used "they" pronouns, but I do have to admit, being that this person was anatomically male, it was difficult to use them properly. So when people get to making up their own new words (which honestly, to me, seems like a petty vanity thing), you can imagine how difficult it becomes to work them into normal speech.

But that element of the English language is what makes the way characters address this boss so bizarre...

First of all, how to they know this person is transgendered? I imagine they have some intelligence on this person, so okay, maybe they know about this information.


But how do they know what this person's specific pronoun is? Okay, let's assume the characters have had personal interaction with this boss in the past, which, based on Gunvolt's dialogue during that level, doesn't seem likely.

But even IF these characters had that insight... This is a boss. That Gunvolt straight-up murders. This lapse in logic is what makes this whole sequence so strange; Gunvolt is on a mission that culminates in killing this boss, but he takes the time to be hyper-respectful and take the time to use this person's preferred pronoun? I just don't get it. At no point in the story is Gunvolt painted as someone who would tread lightly and show respect to his enemies... In fact, he often insults them before putting them to death. So it stands out as forced and quite bizarre.


Now, I do want to make a clear distinction - I'm not on board with the people who shit themselves with anger when they find out there's gay sex in Dragon Age. I actually think it's fantastic that a trans person is in a game and not there purely as someone to laugh at. Even if Gunvolt had been all, "What the hell are you? Man or woman?" the boss xirself(?) is still portrayed as a competent mind and a strong fighter, not just a man in a dress (which I've definitely seen mocked before in Japanese games and animu).

But what I do think - and this is hyper-nitpicky - is that the language used could have been handled better. Even IF the character has their own preferred pronoun, it doesn't make sense that the characters would just use and respect it.


But forgetting the game logic for a second... I feel like the use of this pronoun doesn't pay much respect to the player. Not everyone knows what a preferred pronoun is, and I'm not sure that using such an obscure word is the right way to introduce them to it. I mean, it's got me talking about it, so kudos to the localization team for that, but it's certainly been bothering me for a while now.

Anyway. I'm kinda rambling now. To any trans people who may be reading this, or to any friends of family of trans people, what do you think? Was this an appropriate use of the English language to handle a trans person, or does it feel contrived and misplaced? I'm genuinely curious to hear your input, because trans issues are just not something I've heard much about until recently.


Thanks for reading.

PS, I know there's some kind of mini controversy about some comcept localization staff member named "Dina" who"s apparently an "SJW" or something. That may have something to do with this, but honestly, I'm not going to be all "burn the witch!" about this. I don't think there's some grand trans agenda conspiracy; sorry, gaters.

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