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Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?

yoshiheartbirdo.jpg

Last month over at The Bilerico Project, writer Austen Crowder posted a three-part series on gay censorship and videogames, with everyone's favorite pink gender-bender framing the discussion.

It's easy to tick off a few tropes in Nintendo's core cast of characters. Mario, the everyman hero; Luigi, the trusty, goofy sidekick; Peach, the ever-present damsel in distress; Daisy, the strong, independent woman; Bower, the sociopathic villain; Wario, the crazy, get-rich-quick salesman; Yoshi, the not-a-care-in-the-world companion; the menial koopas, goombas, paratroopas, spinies, bullet bills, and other anthropomorphic creatures eagerly awaiting the footfall of the Mario Brothers' doc martens.

Then, sticking out like a sore, pink thumb, there's the male-to-female Birdo, begging for explanation.

The series explores the role Nintendo's censorship of certain titles played in shaping games in the 8 and 16-bit era, and how Birdo's outing via the Super Mario Bros. 2 instruction manual was really not the norm for the time. It's a fun read, despite the somewhat depressing subject matter, and well worth the time to read through all three parts. It's a bit of an overview into a subject that, sadly, hasn't made a lot of progress in the last 30 years, although things have noticeably brightened in the past few years. Really, the biggest piece of news for me in the article was that apparently Yoshi and Birdo have been in a relationship for a while now. That's a rule 34 I think I'll avoid, thanks, but more power to them!

Videogame censorship, LGBT, and Birdo Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 [The Bilerico Project]

6 Comments

edeo said:

I think this is all a bit of a reach. I don't think so much can be deduced from a personality quirk in a game manual which was riddled with errors to start with.

Austen said:

Thanks for the mention!

Re: Birdo being a stretch, Nintendo has now officially claimed that Birdo is of "indeterminate" gender. She was also a fun little metaphor to drag through the early days of videogames, showing how Japanese and American tastes clashed.

NaviFairy said:

Birdo has remained trans beyond just the Mario 2 manual. In the more recent (and Japan-only) Wii game of Captain Rainbow Birdo is featured prominently. At one point in the game, Birdo is arrested by the police for going into the women's restroom. Arrested, of course, because the police say that Birdo is a male. Birdo attests that she is female, and asks you to find an object to prove it. If I remember correctly, eventually you find an object very closely resembling a vibrator, and when you show it to the police it gets Birdo out of jail.

So essentially Nintendo seems to be saying that technically Birdo is male, but Birdo considers herself female. This is still fairly recent too, since Captain Rainbow was only released in August of 2008.

VorpalBunny said:

I wish NA would get Captain Rainbow. Birdo and Yoshi tie as my favorite Nintendo characters.

Brooke said:

In my opinion, Vivian from Paper Mario 2 is a much, much better MtF trans character than Birdo. She's an actual sympathetic character, who learns to respect herself and is one of the best party members in the game. Too bad they had to censor her in the english releases. v_v

Catto said:

Would that make Yoshi a trans as well. You know birds and lizards only female lay eggs.
Yoshi is clearly make but he lays eggs and could be a hermaphrodite.
I was having discussions with my friend about Birdo being a male or female. In Super Mario Bros 2 on the instruction it state he wears a bow and thinks he is girl. I played this character on Super Mario Wii and he or she sounds very camp and in conclusion is a transsexual.
Extreme feminine characters are very popular in Japan and at least one character in Final Fantasy has a bishonen.

And girls who like girls who like rumble packs!

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Catto on Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?: Would that make Yoshi a trans as well. You know birds and lizards only female lay eggs. Yoshi is clearly...

Brooke on Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?: In my opinion, Vivian from Paper Mario 2 is a much, much better MtF trans character than Birdo. She's an...

VorpalBunny on Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?: I wish NA would get Captain Rainbow. Birdo and Yoshi tie as my favorite Nintendo characters....

NaviFairy on Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?: Birdo has remained trans beyond just the Mario 2 manual. In the more recent (and Japan-only) Wii game of Captain...

Austen on Was Birdo An LGBT Trailblazer?: Thanks for the mention! Re: Birdo being a stretch, Nintendo has now officially claimed that Birdo is of "indeterminate" gender....

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