View Full Version : Transgender Representation: Advice and Ideas

12-12-2017, 11:39 PM
So I wrote a bit about this in another thread but I want to go into some more detail in here.

During the Space Monkey Program update #1 Michel Ancel briefly mentioned that he wanted to include transgender characters in the game, and as a transgender person I was overjoyed at hearing this. There's so little transgender representation in any kind of media, so finding out that the sequel to my favourite game will include trans characters was huge for me, especially with the possibility of allowing players to create a trans character and not just have them as background npcís. This is colossal because that's never happened in any AAA videogames before. However, in recent AAA videogames that have featured trans characters they have not been written all that well, at best they are a single side npc who is poorly written, and at worst they are disrespectful or even offensive towards trans people, and that's not something I want to happen for BGE2. So, Iím going to offer my advice and ideas about how to best include transgender and non-binary (NB) characters in the game.

Iím going to split up this discussion into a few sections so itís not a complete mess, Iíll start off with what could be done with the character creation engine and gameplay elements to make it trans and NB inclusive then Iím going to talk about aspects of the writing and story, Iíll also post links at the bottom to help explain some of the trans-specific language and concepts Iím using.

Section 1: Character creation and gameplay

1. Body and face creation
From what weíve seen of the character creation engine so far I would say that itís definitely on the right track to being inclusive for trans people, because having a character creation engine where characters are all built off from the same base body model regardless of gender body type (or even species in this case) and just having them all be morphed from the same baseline model is incredible (I think that how the engine works, thatís what it looked like to me anyway); and an engine like that has been something Iíve dreamed of for some time. Although there are some things that can be done with the engine to make sure that it is inclusive of trans and NB people, the absolute most important thing that can be done is to not restrict any options based on the characterís gender. For example, donít force a female character to have breasts, because not all women have breasts weather theyíre trans or not; allow people to mix traditionally masculine and feminine features for their characters; let players create male characters with "feminine" features and women with "masculine" features, and NB characters with whatever features they please.

2. Gender selection and pronouns
If the characters body/face arenít restricted by a gender selector, then the gender option will be used for dialogue options, how the player character is recognised and referred to by npcís and what pronouns npcís use for the player. Typically, character creation engines limit the player to a binary male/female gender option, but to include non-binary people in the game this wonít work, what could be done is to have the options instead be: male female and non-binary. This would be okay, but the word non-binary is an umbrella term that refers to a lot of genders and having an individual option for each would be real difficult to make. You could pick a selection of say 5 or 6, but then that would exclude all the others, so one method that wouldnít exclude anyone would be to have players chose what pronouns they want their character to use instead of choosing a gender marker, for example the options could be he/him, she/her and they/them. This way people will be able to have their character referred to in the way they find most comfortable, you may also want players to be able to change their pronouns whenever they feel like it. Might also want to include a ďis this character trans checkboxĒ that sets whether certain dialog or story options appear or not, though Iíll write about the possibility of those options in the writing and story section.

3. Clothing and accessories options
Similar to how to make the body and face generation trans and NB inclusive was to not restrict the options based on gender, the best way to make the clothing options inclusive is to also not restrict the options based on gender. In some RPG games clothing items will look different depending on weather they are worn by a male or female character, for example the clothing item would be appear as a t-shirt and jeans for a male character but as a dress for a female character, to make the clothing options trans and NB inclusive then, clothing items should appear the same regardless of the player characters gender or body type. In short, if a dude wants to wear a dress let him wear a dress. And donít restrict other options like accessories makeup or tattoos based on gender either.

Section 2: Writing and story

1. What not to do
When writing transgender characters there are a lot of mistakes you can fall into, so hereís a list of things you really shouldnít do. Donít have only one transgender person in your entire game universe, there are a lot of us out there and itíd be unrealistic to have there only be one. Donít make being transgender the only personality trait of your trans characters, we are just as varied and complex as everyone else. Being transgender is an important part of ourselves, but itís not the only part. Donít make transgender characters a joke, that doesnít mean that trans characters canít be funny or make jokes themselves, but the joke should never be that they are transgender. Donít have your trans characters misgender themselves, for example donít have them say ďI used to be a [man/woman]Ē or ďI used to be called [name]Ē we donít often say things like that, for most of us our old names or pronouns are very uncomfortable or even painful to hear, so we donít tell people those things. Donít make all the trans characters non-human, itís perfectly fine to have some trans characters be non-human but donít make them all non-human, you donít want to imply that being transgender is inhuman. Donít write trans people as un-romanceable or hypersexualised, trans people have just as varied a romantic lifestyle as non-trans people and that should be reflected in any trans characters you include.

2. Writing trans characters
When writing trans and NB characters the most important thing to do is to hire transgender and NB people to help you and, furthermore, when writing characters from any marginalised group you should hire people from that group to help. When writing characters from marginalised groups you should always at least consult with members of those groups to make sure that youíre doing it right. If you want to have characters explore or explain what it is like to be marginalised then you should hire members from those groups to write those parts, because there are aspects about being transgender that you canít explain unless you have lived it for yourself, the nuance of what it feels like canít be explained by someone who isnít transgender. All that being said, thereís no reason a non-transgender person canít write a trans character, just make sure to check with trans people to make sure youíre doing it right. And remember to write us as real people who are just as complex and diverse as everyone else, we all have different hopes, dreams, fears, goals, hobbies, interests, sexualities, ideals, philosophies etc.

3. Some story ideas
At this point we donít know much of anything about the gameís story yet, but we do know what some of the games core themes will be: space, piracy, adventure, exploration etc. However, the themes I want to focus on here would be the themes of oppression, discrimination, marginalisation and equality (or lack thereof as the case may be). These are all things that trans people face in the real world on a daily basis, there are some parts of the world where its illegal for us to exist, and even a few where we can be killed just for being ourselves. Because of this I feel that BGE2 would be the perfect setting to explore some of the issues trans people face, and there are plenty of ways to work transgender people into the game worldís narrative as well as transgender specific narratives for individual characters. Here are some examples of trans specific stories that could be told: you could have a transgender companion who is in a dangerous situation involving a transphobic aggressor, and the player would help them deal with that situation, or for a longer narrative form you could have a character coming to terms with the fact that they are trans and how to deal with that In an uncaring universe (please hire trans writers for this).

Glossary of terms

Trans and Nonbinary 101

Transgender FaQ

Writing Trans characters

12-12-2017, 11:45 PM
Oh And if anyone has any questions feel free to ask me and i'll do my best to answer them

12-14-2017, 01:01 AM
First off thank you so much for the support, it means so much

And second off, you are completely right about there being two primary ways of handling trans rep in a futuristic or sci-fi setting, Option A) where the trans people in the story face struggles that directly mirror the real world struggles of trans people, and option B) where the game is set in a future where people’s attitudes towards gender are much more open than our word today and being transgender is seen as normal. Now I’ve seen both of these options approached in stories in all different kinds of media and both offer an important role in normalizing trans people. But for Beyond Good and Evil 2 I feel that the best way of handling trans representation would be to follow option A), because option B) works best in a setting where minority group oppression and exploitation are not main focuses of the story Option B) works best in a future where these issues have already been dealt with in the past and is showing a what the future could be like if people from minority groups did not face the discrimination they do today. Now we don't know much about BGE2's story but we do know that the exploitation, oppression and discrimination of hybrids is a core theme in the game, transgender and people from other minority groups face these things daily in the real world and I feel that the game should mirror the real world struggles of trans people because 1. I feel that it would make more sense in the games setting from a narrative standpoint, 2. If the game were to follow option B) then I know that some people would consider this dismissive of trans people struggles or hypocritical as the game would focus on the struggles of some minorities but not others, 3. I feel that it would be more valuable from the standpoint of normalising trans people to openly discuss the struggles we face as that may help people realise just how tough life can be for us, that’s not something you can do with option B) really.

As for voice options, I would personally like to see more than two, at least four, I know it’s a big expense but two alone just doesn’t seem like enough variety to me, and thinking about it could be good to have some voice editing options like lowering or raising the overall pitch of the voice, that offers a bit more variety.

12-14-2017, 03:53 PM
Hey, AlexandaBleak!

Thank you so much for taking the time to provide the BGE2 team with this detailed feedback! Your participation really gets to the heart of what the Space Monkey Program is all about and we hope you’ll continue to inspire us. Michel and the team are really excited to be working with the community on making a game that players will love and so we appreciate any and all suggestions. Your comments have been passed on to the BGE2 team in their entirety and we hope that you’ll continue to participate in the Space Monkey Program and inspire us more in the near future!

12-16-2017, 05:11 PM
I have a fealing trans and hermaphrodites, will be seen in hybrids. Especially, hermaphrodites. Reason being, a hermaphrodite hybrid, would be efficient to corporations who don't want to waste money on creating a new hybrid. That, or, waste time to find a male/female to breed their female/male. Where a hermaphrodite hybrid (if it's self reproduction) can birth its own child, saving the corporation(s) money.

12-16-2017, 08:57 PM
Hi, I'm a nonbinary fan excited for this sequel and I just wanted to voice that I'm quite happy to see the positive response to Alexanda's post. The trans community is starved for good positive representation to the point that many resort to head-cannoning a character as trans just so that they can see themselves in a series that they enjoy. (Look up trans spiderman. It's so great.) I myself, when I play games, often create a character and try to pretend that they're trans to the best of my ability, but a game with a built in aspect to create a character that is trans as part of the game's story and have the game use they/them pronouns for me? That would be beyond amazing. Beyond my wildest hopes and dreams.

If you want to look at examples of indie games that have allowed for trans characters and pronouns selection, I suggest:
Dream Daddy- You have to play as male, but both the character creator and story options allow for a trans male character.
2064 Read Only Memories- Doesn't ask for your gender, but does allow for any pronouns you like.


In light of a recent post, I'd also like to quickly add that intersex is another underrepresented group of people who would probably love to see themselves in a game as humans. I am not intersex so I am probably not the best person to make suggestions for them, but the intersex society of north america has a fairly in depth faq, which I'll link for your convenience.


12-19-2017, 06:06 PM
Hey AerenTask! Thanks for the links to the resources. I am passing all of this to the dev team, so keep your feedback coming. It is very important to us!

12-23-2017, 06:10 PM
In light of a recent post, I'd also like to quickly add that intersex is another underrepresented group of people who would probably love to see themselves in a game as humans. I am not intersex so I am probably not the best person to make suggestions for them, but the intersex society of north america has a fairly in depth faq, which I'll link for your convenience.


I wasn't talking about intersex, I was talking about hermaphrodites. And sorry, it's not impossible, as earthworms and snails/slugs are both male and female. Now I don't know if they can self reproduce, but they can mate and both become pregnant. Not so sure about intersex people. And just to clarify, I'm not trying to be rude.

12-24-2017, 01:32 AM
When writing characters from any marginalised group you should hire people from that group to help. When writing characters from marginalised groups you should always at least consult with members of those groups to make sure that youíre doing it right.

This can't be emphasized enough. And I wanna hone in on the word "hire". I love the Space Monkey program, and that we fans get a chance to contribute to development, but it's still not the same, or as significant as hiring marginalized people.

Oh And if anyone has any questions feel free to ask me and i'll do my best to answer them

While also recognizing that AlexandaBleak is not the official spokesperson of transfolks worldwide. Do the research.

Thank you for this post. I wish I had read it before I talked about it in my other thread (https://forums.ubi.com/showthread.php/1813067-BGE2-On-Fair-Representation-and-Sexy-Old-Lizardwomen). To Lyogron - yeah, I agree that it'd be nice if the 24th century brought us a gender neutral world, where trans people don't even have to identify as such, and there is no discrimination. BUT, I feel like that becomes a sort of "post-trans" (like post-racial) thing, which doesn't acknowledge, and more or less disavows the struggles of transfolks.

While it sucks to think that we won't have progressed much in 300 years, I think it adds value to the game as art, as a contribution to the culture, if it tackles contemporary issues in a futuristic setting. Or maybe, "best of both" where transphobia isn't so systemic anymore, rather the residual prejudice of certain people in certain story scenarios that needs to be stamped out. Perhaps literally. :)

12-29-2017, 08:09 AM
I remember watching Jenny Jones. And people were really not accepting back then