As with many of the writers here at the GayGamer.net castle, I've had a huge chunk of my time swallowed by playing Dragon Age: Origins. As we already have a review and sex scenes with Zevran, I wanted to write about another piece of the game across which I ran (and one more piece after that--but that includes finishing the game, which I should manage this weekend).
In Denerim, the metropolis, in medieval terms, of Fereldan, there exists a brothel you can visit called The Pearl. If you speak to the madame there, she gives you the option of choosing your preferences, whether that be male, female, a surprise, or both.
Choosing both gives you what you see in the screenshot I captured up top. So, while many of us are going YAY! about the inclusion of Zevran and Leliana, below the fold you'll read about an issue that's made me frown.
It can be difficult to write into media a character that is considered a minority and underrepresented. Among those difficulties is when finally including characters of the minority, having only a few examples tends to mean that it's the only representation players have of said persons. When that is a stereotype, it can be easy to be disappointed.
What you see above, in the brothel, is my human mage standing next to a woman who is coded as trans. Unfortunately, these trans women (both the ones in the screenshot include "female" companion), are already made known to us that they are trans by the nature of the quotations around female, as if to say, "This is no real female."
Now, the way this makes sense is that you are in a brothel, where such would be communicated to you. That problem is solved here, albeit in an inelegant manner. Unfortunately, the trans women across whom I've come in this game are only here, in The Pearl. It is commendable that sex workers in the game are not seen as wholly seedy or villified, but the fact that this inclusion codes trans women as only sexual fetishes and makes it appear humorous (with one companion, she quips, "Oh, don't pretend to be surprised now) makes me wonder a few things:
Are there other trans persons in this game? Where are they?
Which brings me to a bigger thought about games in general. If they include a trans person, how do they become coded? If they pass, it should never become an issue what sex they may have been at birth. Otherwise, how is the discovery handled? Had they not coded these trans sex workers before selection, would people have been insulted that they were 'tricked?'
Don't get me wrong, BioWare has done an amazing job with this game, and includes many political issues which I never expected of them (and I am a BioWare fan), but this one is an example of something I would like to see as a starting point to a more friendly, less stereotyped inclusion of the (too often ignored) T from our communities.
Particularly as the game does very well at other gender issues in the game (women that play as women, instead of just a male with woman model!), especially as it includes my favorite party companion, Shale.