New ‘Mario’ Game Restores Character’s Trans Identity

New ‘Mario’ Game Restores Character’s Trans Identity
Image: Source: Nintendo

The remake for Paper Mario: The Thousand Year-Door (released Thursday May 23rd) has restored the trans identity of one of its characters, Vivian. 

Alongside her sisters Marilyn and Beldam, Vivian begins the game in an antagonistic role as one of the Three Shadows. Eventually, she joins Mario and friends to assist them in their quest to open the titular Door to prevent disaster from hitting the Mushroom Kingdom. 

In the original Japanese version of The Thousand-Year Door, Vivian was written as a transgender woman who was regularly bullied and misgendered by her sisters for her identity.

However, the English and German translations completely omitted this part of her character, instead having Vivian be derided for her ‘ugliness’ rather than her gender identity. This decision was allegedly made due to age rating concerns, and has provoked endless discussion over Vivian’s gender identity since. 

Now with the release of The Thousand-Year Door’s remake, the speculation for English-speaking audiences can be put to rest with Vivian explicitly confirmed as a trans character. 

When she eventually leaves her sisters to join Mario’s party in the fourth chapter of the game, Vivian talks about their transphobic bullying with this dialogue: 

Source: Nintendo

The remake generally has a more positive view of Vivian’s gender too, being much more consistent with and directly affirming of her identity than any other available version of the game.   

Response to confirmation of Vivian as trans

Many fans celebrated the decision to make Vivian unequivocally trans in the remake, praising the directness with which she says it. “Incredible, they really had her turn straight into the camera and say ‘I’m transgender’ directly to the audience,” said Twitter/X user Jack Jackson

@SuperiorGothBun shared similar praise: “Upfront and pretty clear with it, Nintendo has learned from their original localization and accepted Vivian 🏳️‍⚧️”.

Of course, many transphobes are still continuing to claim Vivian is not trans, despite the fact that this version of the game is more accurate to the 2004 Japanese script than the original English version. 

Such denial mimics when fan favourite Guilty Gear character Bridget was officially canonised as trans in Guilty Gear: Strive, only for bigoted fans to continue misgendering her. That hasn’t stopped Bridget from being a drawcard for queer fans to get into the fighting game series.

Paper Mario’s Vivian being confirmed as trans continues a rising trend of more queer representation in games, which in turn brings in new audiences. Games like Hades and Baldur’s Gate 3 have thriving communities in large part due to their open embracing of queer content.

To have Mario, the best-selling video game series of all time, embrace a trans character is one of a thousand important steps for representation in the medium. 

The remake for Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door is available to play now on the Nintendo Switch. 

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