The Transphobia At Atlus Needs To Stop

Trans characters have little of what could be considered a history in games. There are examples, here and there, but they’re very clearly the exception. They’re obscure cases to be looked for. However, Atlus is fairly unique in being one of the few developers with such a history. Given the state of the industry, it comes as little surprise that it is not a good history.

This history begins with Persona 2: Innocent Sin. It recently reached US shores for the first time via PSP port, though some English speaking fans had played it sooner thanks to a fan translation. It’s not a prominent example, there’s an instance where the player can have a brief conversation with a female-to-male trans person who happens to be wearing a skirt.

In other words, their identity and one element of their presentation are in conflict. In and of itself, this is fairly harmless. It’s arguably even an example of throwing the gender binary out the window, which would be awesome. The issue is what else accompanies this moment. Eikichi, a heterosexual male, looks at the NPC from afar and says, thinking the NPC a girl, that “she looks cute.”

In essence, the scene relies on an unconventional conflict between identity and presentation to make a juvenile joke about heterosexual male finding a man cute. The phrasing of the dialogue and the way the scene is presented make clear that the audience is supposed to find this exchange funny. The creators had no noble intentions with the trans NPC. They merely wanted a cheap laugh.

This is a brief moment of transphobic humor in an otherwise good game. Were it an isolated incident, it would perhaps be forgivable. Sadly, every moment transphobia or transignorance in our society comes with all the weight of what’s come before. They serve as reminders of just how inescapable these things are and just how ignorant our society remains. Worse, Innocent Sin was only a sign of things to come.

Persona 3, in addition to adding more focus on character drama, inflicted another example of anti-trans humor on the audience. Partway into the game, the cast makes a trip to the beach. Here the boys of the group go on “Operation Babe Hunt.” There are already issues with such a thing, forcing heterosexuality down the throat of any non-hetero player who opted to play it, but it gets much worse when the three boys run into an adult woman who actually responds with interest to their flirting. She’s a sexual predator, taking advantage of teenage hormones run wild.

The insulting punchline to this scene is that she’s a trans woman, outed to the cast by the fact that she missed just a bit of stubble when shaving. The trio are shocked by this revelation and promptly lose all interest in here. The player character is now canonically transphobic, as are his friends. The scene even reinforces the all too common belief that trans women are sexual predators eager to take advantage of clueless straight men.

Then Persona 4 did something interesting. It added Naoto. Naoto was a female-assigned-at-birth character who presented as male to the party. If Atlus handled this character properly, it would be the perfect opportunity for them to redeem themselves. Instead, Persona 4 ended up being yet another slap in the face of trans gamers everywhere.

In Persona 4, each dungeon is a metaphor for psychological hurdles a particular character is going through. As an example, one girl who feels trapped by familial obligations is depicted in her dungeon as a princess locked away in a castle. It’s not an incredibly deep metaphor, but it serves its purpose.

Returning to Naoto, all of his role models growing up were the detectives and spies of young adult fiction. At his introduction in the story, he is working as a detective, having taken after the characters he so admired. The dungeon combines Naoto’s childhood, adolescence, and identity as a trans man by taking the form of a secret base wherein he will undergo a horrific, dangerous  experiment.

The goal of the surgery is actually for Naoto to become a man. As the hero off to everyone’s rescue, the player’s job is to prevent this. It is also here that the game attempts to convince the audience that Naoto didn’t really want to become a man. Rather, the game argues that Naoto was merely fed up with the infantilizing attitude most police have towards women and was trying to escape that.

Persona 4’s sins are many. It depicts gender reassignment surgery as dangerous and bad, in spite of the fact that there are many trans people for whom it is a necessary part of being comfortable with their bodies. It then forces the player to stand between Naoto and this safe, sometimes necessary surgery. It uses the same rhetoric as those who oppress trans folks by arguing that Naoto wasn’t really trans and was just trying to escape gender roles.

Any one of these would be considered an awful attack on the trans community on its own. By dumping all of them on the player at once, Persona 4 becomes arguably the most anti-trans game Atlus has released.

At last our story brings us to the current generation of consoles, for which Atlus released Catherine. Catherine tells the tale of Vincent, who begins having nightmares after he cheats on his longtime girlfriend. Every man who has these nightmares winds up dead and only men are able to have them. Later in the game, these dreams are revealed to be a divine punishment for men who keep partners who want children from having them.

Among the game’s colorful cast is the waitress Erica, who we find out is a trans woman via one of the game’s endings. The audience finds out that she’s trans when a guy who slept with her earlier in the game outs her and refers to her as Eric. However, the game foreshadows this revelation throughout. Vincent and other characters say she’s not a “real” woman, the guy who slept with her says that the sex was “weird” (though Erica has undergone gender reassignment surgery), and Erica ends up having the same nightmares as Vincent.

The dreams are an insult to trans people in two ways. First, the implication is that Erica isn’t a real woman. In this way, the game sides with the transphobic characters who insult her. However, there’s also the fact that Erica having these dreams means that she’s on the receiving end of some divine punishment for being closeted to a guy she slept with. Given the violence and transphobia that trans people become the target of when not closeted, the very idea that a trans woman deserves to be punished for keeping this secret is jawdroppingly ignorant.

The cherry on top of this transphobia sundae is that even the game’s artbook calls Erica a man and refers to her by her birth name. Erica as a character is great, but both Catherine and its artbook insult her and trans people everywhere.

Ultimately, it is Atlus’ Japan division that’s responsible for this. They’re the developers and thus it is their decision to write the game in such a way that these issues are as poorly handled as they are, but it is also worth considering what Atlus USA’s responsibility is in this mess. As translators, they have the opportunity to change transphobic lines and try to frame things in a less hurtful perspective. However, to do so would be to work in contrast to what some believe is a key element of translation: Accuracy.

While accuracy is an important part of any translation, it is generally accepted that there can be no such thing as a perfect translation. Generally speaking, something will always be lost in the process, due to differences in culture, lack of equivalent words, and even words that do match up having slightly different connotations in various situations. Even translations of the same work can have substantial differences depending on which elements of translation were prioritized.

As such, the idea of abandoning accuracy in unique situations is nothing new and could be used to make for better localizations of Atlus games. Seeing Persona 2’s faults in its handling of a trans NPC, it would be perfectly reasonable to change that scenario completely to get a less offensive result. It’s such a small part of the game that the benefit to the product as a whole would be worth far more than any accuracy it cost.

Obviously such changes are harder when significant portions of story are problematic. In this instance, Atlus USA’s responsibility then changes to one of informing. They have better connections with Atlus Japan than the vast majority of their American fans. As such, they’re in a position to let these developers know that if they intend to include trans characters, they should actually consult members of the trans community. They should educate themselves. If they’re going to include trans characters in their games, they have a moral obligation to do it right.

Atlus history with trans characters is a rather bad one, and yet it is worth acknowledging that they’ve actually included gender issues and trans characters beyond simply treating them as a joke. It is more than most any other game has done. This is not so much praise of Atlus as it is damning condemnation of the video game industry.

Both gamers and developers are responsible for the rather backwards nature of games today. Developers have an obligation to help progress move forward by releasing games that are better in this respect. Fans need to be held accountable for their purchases. Between the used games market and game rental services, there’s very little excuse for knowingly supporting games that hold the medium back.

There are those who’ve argued that characters like Naoto and Erica are “stepping stones” to better representation, but, even if they are, that does not erase the harm they do. They still contribute to misunderstandings of trans folks. They still contribute to transphobia, or at least transignorance. They still actively hurt members of the trans community.

Perhaps Atlus will one day handle presentation of trans issues properly, but, until that day comes, their fans should hold their feet to the fire. It helps no one to assume, “They’ll get it right eventually.” There must be a constant push for better portrayals, for better representation, and for better treatment. That push may not always be “nice” or “comfortable” for Atlus or for their cisgender fans, but it is still necessary. Trans gamers and the trans community as a whole deserve it.


  1. TaiPei

    “Here the boys of the group go on “Operation Babe Hunt.” There are already issues with such a thing, forcing heterosexuality down the throat of any non-hetero player who opted to play it”
    Ally speaking. This statement comes off as a bit ridiculous. There’s a difference between things that matter, and things that don’t. Calling “hetero elements being featured in a game that non-hetero players may play” an issue is just nonsense. Because certain elements of a story don’t conform to your sexuality doesn’t make that a problem. Do we need to run about burning every hetero love story?
    You have valid points for the rest of the article, and on those I agree.

    • misoranomegami

       @TaiPei As I recall (and it’s been a bit since I beat Persona 4) it’s the oversexualized friend who comes up with operation babe hunt. The main character gets dragged along while they go harrass people on the beach. And as a girl I never saw Naoto as transgendered. I saw her as a woman in a very traditional society trying to do something that was considered inapproriate and therefore her dungeon was having to choose between being a man (which I don’t see her as wanting to be) or giving up her life dream. You save all of the characters from society’s expectations of them.  And as a heterosexual woman who sometimes displays what might be called masculine tendancies I dislike the implication that it means I’m secretly a transgendered homosexual man. Though someone will probably state now that I must be and am just transphobic.
      As for Catherine I didn’t play it because it seems insulting to a lot of people. The descriptions I read were offensive to heterosexual men who want to be in relationships, heterosexual women who want children and heterosexual women who don’t and that was just on the box cover!  As a female gamer if I were to boycott every game that required me to play as a male character and have relationships with women I’ld be very bored indeed. 

      • NonsyM

        There are MILES of metaphorical distance between “masculine tendencies” and intentionally presenting as male all while having a subconcious conflict about a desire to undergo surgery to “become a man.”

      • si_fi_soul

         @misoranomegami  @TaiPei operation babe hunt was in persona 3

  2. razikain

    I think I get the intention of this article, but it still felt that the author tried a bit too hard in pretty much every example. Trans stuff is everywhere in Japanese entertainment, from anime/manga to games. Since I’m not a trans myself, I really don’t understand all the big deal in this, especially when it comes to gaming. So sorry if I sounded like an asshole.

  3. razikain

    I think I get the intention of this article, but it still felt that the author tried a bit too hard in pretty much every example. Trans stuff is everywhere in Japanese entertainment, from anime/manga to games. Since I’m not a trans myself, I really don’t understand all the big deal in this, especially when it comes to gaming. So sorry if I sounded like an asshole.

  4. textinct

    razikain: Please forgive the long winded response, but I have a lot of feelings about this and I feel the need to say something.
    No one is trying too hard to make a point in this article. Atlus games blatantly portray trans* individuals as jokes, “traps” and openly disregard their gender. When you say Japan incorporates ‘trans stuff’ everywhere in entertainment, what you’re really referring to is Japan’s tendency to use trans* individuals as comedic fodder. The fact that they are being included in media isn’t enough. It’s negated by the characters’ purpose; being the butt of a joke. I’d also like to clarify that Japan has a tendency to also make fun of drag queens, and while that is equally deplorable, drag queens are not trans*. Some may be, but it’s a subculture that primarily consists of cissexual men who like to dress up and perform in a way that makes them fabulous. And that’s totally cool. But it is absolutely not the same thing.
    Firstly, Persona 2. This example is very relevant because it reinforces the ‘trap’ stereotype, a misinformed trope that the media uses in spite of reinforcing harmful behaviour and thoughts towards trans* individuals. The ‘trap’ stereotype essentially alludes that someone who is trans* is posing as another sex and/or gender to lure the opposite sex and/or gender in, like a venus fly trap. The one being ‘lured’ in is typically portrayed as a victim fooled to believe the trans* individual’s wiles, and God have pity on the poor soul who discovers genitals they weren’t expecting.
    Persona 3. Not only is this an issue of prepetuating the stereotype that younger males can’t be preyed upon sexually, it enforces another harmful stereotype regarding trans* people; that they are predators. People who dress themselves up to look like someone they’re not for the express purpose that they can walk into a certain washroom to prey on unsuspecting young patrons. This also enforces the previous ‘trap’ stereotype. Both are equally harmful. Did you know there was an actual ad campaign – I can’t remember which state it was in – that portrayed trans* people as trenchcoat wearing pedophiles that used their gender as an excuse to wander into washrooms and assault kids, just because the trans* community had the gal to have the desire to use the right washroom?
    Persona 4. Naoto is such a wonderful character for part of the game… and then Atlus decides that Naoto is really just afraid of femininity and the hurdles it presents in a male dominated world. Her dungeon essentially says to the players of the game, “Look! This is what sexual reassignment surgery is like. It’s horrible and dangerous and cruel, and anyone who thinks they need it are really just disillusioned.” You play the hero, and as such you are forced into a role where you interfere with someone’s gender identity and sex while the game rewards you by telling you that you are doing a good thing. Whether we like it or not, conciously or subconsciously, our opinions are influenced by media – including video games. And in the game you played an active role in oppressing Naoto’s gender identity.
    What the article didn’t mention was the romance path the Protagonist can take with Naoto. Naoto will bond with you and begin to ask questions about his appearence and demeanor; should he be more feminine? You can provide imput, some of which applies to how Naoto dresses. In spite of it making him clearly uncomfortable, he’ll start to wear a girl’s school uniform. Just for you. Because you’ve told him that he needs to act according to society’s views of women, and he loves you. At that point, you have played a protagonist that has emotionally manipulated his friend into discarding their gender identity because they have feelings for you. And doesn’t that just make you feel a bit ill?
    And finally, Catherine. If someone identifies as a woman, a man, or if they fall somewhere else in the gender spectrum, that is to be understood as irrefutable truth. There are no ifs, ands or buts – that is their gender. Outing a character as trans* and using their born name, like what happened to Erica, is one of the worst things you can possibly do to a trans* individual. Erica is not male and her name is not Eric. Her name is Erica, and she is a woman. Atlus took a wonderful character, had her outed against her will by someone she had been in a relationship with and essentially told the audience that because she was trans*, she was a fake. As soon as the audience was brought in on the ‘big secret’, Erica is no longer seen as the woman that she is. She is now considered a man parading as a woman by the audience and by the game. Another trap. She is now a joke. Ha ha.
    You may not be trans. Neither am I. But it is not the responsibility of someone who is trans* to educate us. It’s incredibly exhausting, and sometimes mentally harmful, and that’s why we need to make an effort to educate ourselves, so that we don’t come off sounding like assholes.

  5. DarylNoir

    Your argument is noble, but quite extreme. You’re telling us to go out of our way and not buy Atlus games new just because of tiny bullshit that offends you. The thing is that this isn’t enough support that Atlus hates trans people. It’s a company run by tons of people and 100+ hour quests like the Persona series say so much more. One little trans joke means nothing. While I haven’t played Persona 2, I do think the “beautiful woman” scene in Persona 3 was in bad taste. I love Persona 3 though, it’s a fantastic game. One small trans joke, that probably had no hateful intentions behind it to begin with, means nothing to me. You also argue that the game pushes heterosexuality down people’s throats, but, being somewhat of a dating sim, it’s natural that it’s targeted to the heterosexual argument. Just because the game has a strong focus on hetero relationships doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s forcing them down your throat either. It’s no different from any game being made to tailor to a certain group.
    Then there’s your Persona 4 argument, which is completely moot. While Naoto dresses as a man, her intentions behind doing so are to be treated with respect rather than be looked down upon because she’s a woman. Just because her role models were male detectives doesn’t mean she wants to be a male. I know many think Naoto is trans, but because of her reasons behind crossdressing I think it’s pretty obvious that she isn’t. The nightmarish gender reassignment surgery is just the TV World’s way of blowing up Naoto’s personal problems, just like with all of the other party members. You state that the surgery is needed for trans people to be comfortable with their bodies, but when was this about Naoto’s body? It was always about the way she was treated, never her body.
    Now Erica, she’s a tricky subject. I never thought of Vincent and the rest as making fun of her in a hurtful, there was never any malice in what they said. Yeah they probably could’ve gone about it a better way, but it wasn’t that bad. Then there’s Erica and Tobie’s relationship. Erica had the dream because of that, because she tricked him into sex. That’s pretty awful on Erica’s part because it makes trans people look like sexual tricksters. That doesn’t justify the nightmares, but I don’t think of them as trans hate either. Thinking such would just be taking these situations out of context to suit your own view. In fact, that’s basically what you did with Naoto too.
    By the end of the day I plan to buy whatever Atlus game I want rather than assume I’m supporting something that I’m really not. When buying a game, especially a lengthy JRPG like Persona, you can’t just judge it based on something so trivial. One tiny thing you disagree with doesn’t give you the right to vilify a game. Doing that makes you no different from people who didn’t buy Mass Effect 3 because of the ending, the only difference here is that you’re hiding behind the justice of pursuing gender equality. I’m all for that, but there are better ways to go about it than being so petty and childish.

    • NonsyM

      “Erica had the dream because of that, because she tricked him into sex.” I’m sorry you’re so transphobic. I hope you’ll be able to overcome your prejudice against trans people in the future. Until then, try taking an economics class so you can learn about boycotts and why they aren’t the evils of Communism made flesh. @DarylNoir

      • DarylNoir

        How does that make me transphobic? How is Erica any different from the beautiful woman in Persona 3, preying on young men for sex? She’s no different. She preyed on Tobie and had sex with him without telling him she was trans. You’re just changing things around to suit your argument. Just because I disagree with you doesn’t mean I have any prejudice towards trans people, because I don’t. You’re really just jumping to conclusions here. The worst part is that you didn’t even try to combat my points, just brushed them off and said “Lol transphobic”.
        Yes I know boycotts are good, but this one is quite petty really. You act as if Atlus as an entirety is some evil company who hates trans people, but that’s not really the case. Like I said, you’re just taking things out of context so it suits your argument. Boycott Atlus all you want though, it will do nothing.@NonsyM 

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir  “She preyed on Tobie and had sex with him without telling him she was trans.”

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir “you didn’t even try to combat my points, just brushed them off and said ‘Lol transphobic’.”
          Why the would I pretend a transphobe has anything meaningful to contribute to a discussion about trans issues?

        • DarylNoir

          @NonsyM Now you’re just making assumptions to avoid discussion. I told you to argue against my points, but you don’t want and would rather label me a transphobe. I guess there’s no point in having a logical discussion here.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir  You started the discussion by calling me petty and childish. You were never interested in “logical” discussion in the first place. You just wanted to tell me I’m wrong, and now you’re just upset that your views are being insulted. You’re someone who subscribes to the transphobic philosophy that trans people are obligated to tell people about the gender they were assigned at birth before having sex with them. If you subscribe to a transphobic philosophy, then you are a transphobe. If you are a transphobe, then obviously your opinion on what is or is not transphobic is bound to be pretty bullshit and backwards. There are people who aren’t bigots who are willing to discuss Atlus history without calling me petty and childish for the simple act of complaining. If I’m going to spend any time on discussion, it is a more economical use of my time to talk to them than to pretend you aren’t a bigoted, dismissive jackass dead set on wasting my time. You want logic? There’s the most logical possible reason for why I’m not bothering with you.

        • DarylNoir

          @NonsyM Fine, maybe my comment on Erica was in bad taste. Labeling her as a trickster may have been a little trans and I didn’t realize it until someone explained it to me
          (unlike you who just failed to give any reasons). Erica still had the dreams because of her relationship with Toby though. They didn’t happen until after they had sex which is why I don’t think of it as Trans hate. I guess it could be, but I can’t say. Catherine is the trickiest subject here and I find it hard to defend. It has a ton of issues when it comes to gender roles. It’s hard to say whether Erica’s punishment is meant to paint Thomas Mutton as an awful character, seeing as he caused all of this, or if Atlus is trying to send some hateful message towards Trans people. I’m more inclined to go with the former, but I really can’t say for sure.

        • DarylNoir

           @NonsyM  Just because I think you’re wrong doesn’t mean you can’t convince me otherwise and be civil about it. I was probably wrong to call you petty and childish though, bringing personal insults into the discussion never solves anything. Still, the way you present your argument isn’t helping. I thought the point of spreading activism like this was to bring “transphobes” to your side and work for a better future, not dismiss them and treat them like garbage. Like I said, my Erica comment was in bad taste, but I didn’t mean for it to come across as transphobic and you should’ve told me why it came off that way. I’m sorry. Even though I did mistakenly insult you at first, you should’ve been the bigger person and explained your point rather than flinging back another insult.
          At the end of the day, I still don’t stand with this boycott. I hate to say it, but Atlus games are fun, interesting, and engaging. That’s why I buy them, that’s why I continue to do so. If you want to boycott them because they offended you a few times, be my guest.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir Thomas Mutton’s character is the Law Alignment. In SMT terms, that’s doing the right thing in the wrong way. Strange Journey – Idyllic, perfect society, but you have to be brainwashed. SMT1 – Idyllic, perfect society, but you burn to death if you don’t worship the dictator in charge.
          “I didn’t realize it until someone explained it to me (unlike you who just failed to give any reasons)” It is not my job to explain to you why telling trans people they aren’t allowed to be closeted in a society full of anti-trans violence is transphobic. That should be pretty obvious, especially because there is literally no way in which the gender they were assigned at birth matters.
          “Even though I did mistakenly insult you at first, you should’ve been the bigger person and explained your point rather than flinging back another insult.” First off, directly insulting someone isn’t a “mistake”. You did that shit on purpose. Secondly, why is it my job to be the bigger person when you start off by being a transphobic, insulting asshole? You fucked it up. Take responsibility instead of trying to toss the blame on me, jackass.
          “Erica still had the dreams because of her relationship with Toby though.” A relationship with Erica does not keep Toby from having children. Only an idiot would think it does. (Guess that says some not-nice things about Atlus, but oh well.) If Toby wants to raise a kid, he can always adopt. If Toby wants his DNA to continue into the future, he could always find someone to carry the child for him via in vitro fertilization or some shit. The idea that trans people somehow keep cis folks from having kids is literally something only an idiot would believe, and they’d only believe it to validate their bias against trans people.

        • kingoforigin

           @DarylNoir  @NonsyM You are conflating intentional transphobia (“Atlas is trying to send some hateful message”) with passive transphobia. The latter is what is being called to attention, and is just as harmful, for it nonchalantly perpetuates problematic behavior, and leads to people, such as yourself, defending harmful viewpoints.

        • DarylNoir

           @NonsyM  I never said Erica had to be completely closeted, but it seems like something you should share with someone if you’re their sexual partner. Regardless, you never pointed out the fact that that portion was transphobic. If you want to be some sort of activist for trans people then you should probably try educating others to bring them to your side or else nothing will change. If you don’t work to change people’s minds then the oppression will just continue.
          It was a mistake, people type things and say things they didn’t mean to. No need to be so judgmental. It isn’t your job to be the bigger person, but I would’ve respected you more if you were. I’m not even trying to blame you, it’s more like a kind suggestion.
          When did I mention having children? It was never about that. I’m simply pointing out that the dreams occurred after she had sex with Toby. That’s it. You should stop throwing words in my mouth.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir The children thing is the whole FOCUS of Catherine.
          It’s not putting words in your mouth.
          It’s “this is the only way in which her having dreams after this happens makes sense.”
          There is literally no way in which the game giving her the dreams isn’t transphobic.
          1. It’s saying she’s wrong for being closeted.
          2. It’s arguing that she’s keeping Toby from having children.
          3. It’s saying she’s “really a man” because regardless of actions the dreams only happen to men.
          These things are all REALLY transphobic.
          “it seems like something you should share with someone if you’re their sexual partner.” There’s no way their identity as a trans person matters in such a way that they have some sort of responsibility to tell their partner.

        • DarylNoir

           @NonsyM Taking things out of context once again.
          Creating children is the end purpose of Catherine, but that doesn’t mean that’s what I was trying to say.
          Also, it’s hard to say whether Mutton is doing this or if Atlus is trying to seem transphobic. I don’t think saying that is right because you really don’t know.
          Maybe to you, but if you love someone I don’t think a secret like that should be kept. Especially if you plan to spend the rest of your life with this person.

        • DarylNoir

           @kingoforigin  @NonsyM Well of course it is, any type of transphobia is bad. I don’t think of Atlus’ treatment of Naoto as transphobia though and Erica, while not a great representation of trans people, is still up for debate. I just don’t think any of this warrants me boycotting Atlus.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir Do me a favor and look up “appeal to ignorance” while you’re busy telling me it’s wrong to call Catherine transphobic because “we don’t really know.”
          Also, try realizing that transphobes don’t think they’re transphobic! Bigots think their views are reasonable and A-OK! Atlus wouldn’t be trying to seem transphobic. If they’re transphobic, then they’re transphobic, and they think their transphobic views are normal, justifiable, and morally correct.
          “Maybe to you, but if you love someone I don’t think a secret like that should be kept.” So you’re arguing that it’s wrong to keep your medical history a secret? Guess I better tell every person I date about the anxiety medication I was on during elementary school. I’d hate for them to think I’m “keeping secrets” after all.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir  Make a single worthwhile argument for why they should be obligated to tell, instead of just saying they should.

        • NonsyM

          Do me a favor and look up “appeal to ignorance” while you’re busy telling me it’s wrong to call Catherine transphobic because “we don’t really know.”
          Also, try realizing that transphobes don’t think they’re transphobic! Bigots think their views are reasonable and A-OK! Atlus wouldn’t be trying to seem transphobic. If they’re transphobic, then they’re transphobic, and they think their transphobic views are normal, justifiable, and morally correct.
          Original comment deleted because I didn’t like part of it.

        • HanFreakinSolo

           @NonsyM Ok, look. I read your piece and, admittedly, haven’t played any of the games in question so feel I have little to offer to the argument in that capacity, but it comes across as you brushing off any dissenting opinions as being transphobic (in some cases being blatantly rude about it), which isn’t fair.

    • si_fi_soul

       @DarylNoir Holy shit, you are transphobic as fuck. I’d respond in-depth like @textinct did below, but my jaw is just on the floor.
      As a trans man, I can say I’m fully in support of the points made in this article, and that I am already boycotting Atlus’s games. They’ve hurt me on a personal level (especially what they did with Naoto in Persona 4), and I won’t support them any longer. I suggest you try educating yourself more and do the same.

      • DarylNoir

        How am I transphobic again? I don’t see how.  Now I can see how the games could emotionally hurt you, but it’s clear that you’re hurt easy seeing as Naoto was the biggest offender for you. I thought Naoto was great though, so I’ll continue to support Atlus because they aren’t this evil trans hating company. That’s just what you’ve convinced yourself into thinking.@si_fi_soul 

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir  Sure is nice seeing a cis-privileged asshole tell a trans person they’re too sensitive.
          And by nice I mean fuck off, you cis-privileged asshole.

        • DarylNoir

           @NonsyM Assuming I’m cis and using that as a crutch to make my point less significant. How kind of you.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir Knowing you’re cis and telling you that from your position of privilege telling a trans man he’s being too sensitive is fucking bullshit.

        • DarylNoir

           @NonsyM I really hate talking about my gender identity, but I’m probably closer to an agender genderqueer than cis. I’m not really sure right now. Still, I feel that way because I don’t feel my gender should really matter in what I do. It just doesn’t mean much to me. While gender itself is a form of identity, I don’t think they’re very healthy as labels because they often lead to making blatant assumptions about the person and forcing gender roles on to them.

        • NonsyM

           @DarylNoir Okay, then, I apologize for my assumption.
          Telling a trans man they’re being too sensitive over issues that are *ABOUT THEM*: Still a really shitty thing to do.

        • si_fi_soul

           @DarylNoir I’m not “hurt easily”, I’m disgusted that a video game that I otherwise really enjoyed advocated for “saving” people like myself from something that could ACTUALLY SAVE OUR LIVES. I’m disgusted that the game advocated peer-pressuring those you love into changing their gender presentation to better suit your sexual preferences. I’m disgusted that the game advocated forcing trans people into situations where they would be sexually harrassed.
          And the fact that you see nothing wrong with any of that is why you’re transphobic.

        • si_fi_soul

           @DarylNoir  @NonsyM And wow, holy shit, the fact that you’re genderqueer and are still spouting this bullshit and telling trans people that they’re “overly sensitive”? That makes this even worse!

  6. JayHitcher

    Though I can’t speak for most of the rest of this article, due to having no experience with those games, with the exception of Operation: Babe Hunt, which I do agree with you on (excluding your comment on its heteronormativity, which is not really a valid topic when referring to only one example; heteronormativity is a larger issue), you’re very off-base in your argument about Persona 4. 
    Naoto’s character is not about being trans; it is about the issue of gender roles and how they affect one’s perception of their own gender. Naoto’s status as trans is a matter of individual perception, as their arc leaves their gender intentionally vague. 
    The main reason that Naoto identifies as a trans man when you first meet them is because society is telling Naoto that the only heroes that exist are male. All of the heroes that they identify with are male, and the job that they want to do is dominated by men. The idea of a “hero,” then, becomes an idea suited only to the male gender in the mind of Naoto. 
    When you enter into their dungeon, it is very clear that this young adult fiction that Naoto grew up with had a strong effect on them, as the dungeon is entirely based off of a futuristic bunker out of a tokusatsu show. An important thing to remember about the dungeons is that they are based off of the character’s self-perception, the Shadow bosses, especially. Thus, the strength of the influence of this material on Naoto is made clear. 
    The boss fight does portray sex reassignment surgery as dangerous, but, as mentioned previously, this is all within the mind of Naoto. THEY are scared of the surgery. This does not mean that sex reassignment surgery is dangerous; this means that Naoto is scared of it. The Shadow Naoto that you then fight is shown as a bisected, robotic version of the character. All of the bosses are heavily symbolic (often obviously). This boss illustrates that Naoto is actually at odds with themselves, lending credence to the idea that Naoto is actually scared of surgery because they are unsure of what their gender is. 
    Character movesets in Persona 4 are as symbolic as the Shadow bosses (Chie’s ice to contrast with Yukiko’s fire, etc.), and Naoto has perhaps the most blatant one: light, dark, and almighty. Light, the Yin; Dark, the Yang; Almighty, the Neutral. In their original uses, the halves of Yin and Yang had genders assigned to them, Yin as male, Yang female. Almighty, the only neutral magic element within the game (and, of course, the most obviously positive one), along with the contrast of the Yin and the Yang, shows more of this dichotomy, but it also brings in the idea of neutrality. 
    Neutrality, in the SMT games, is represented as the most morally “good” alignment. The “true endings” (and the hardest endings to attain) of every SMT game are the neutral endings, the “screw heaven and hell, forge a path for humanity” endings, the “true hero” endings. The idea of a hero, in SMT, is rooted out of making a path for yourself in a world shaped by dichotomy. 
    The social link you go through with Naoto (discounting the romance bits, which I do take issue with, and will be discussed shortly) is about them finally gaining confidence in themselves, no matter what their gender actually is. They learn to have confidence in themselves and accept who they are and what they want to do in their lives, gender disregarded. 
    This idea is marred somewhat if you choose to go into the romantic path with Naoto and make one, very specific dialogue choice in the social link. They arrive at your home on Christmas, dressed for you in the high school’s girl’s uniform, noticeably uncomfortable. They love the MC, and as such they want to fit his ideal lover: a female gender role. It essentially becomes the initial conflict Naoto went through again, with them adjusting their gender to fit the ideals of other people. 
    One can romance Naoto without them wearing the girl’s uniform, but the path to even romancing Naoto, girl’s uniform or no, is extremely difficult. Their link is given to you quite late in the game, you have little time to finish it, and you have to make the exact right choices at each dialogue option in their social link to get to the point of paramour. And, if you romance them and make the choice for them to wear the girl’s uniform, they are still uncomfortable. They make it clear that it doesn’t suit them, and the game holds you to what you did. It lets you know that you have done wrong to them much as society did when it told them to be a man because they wanted to be a detective. You show this person love, and you make it come at the price of their individual, self-determined identity. 
    Thus, Naoto’s actual gender identity is still left up in the air as the game ends. They may be trans, and they may not be. That is not what matters about Naoto. What matters is that they are a real hero, someone who can forge their own path through the world and have confidence in themselves, not bending to societal gender roles and gender dichotomies. The player character may distort Naoto’s gender, but the game lets them know that they have done wrong if they make the choice to do that. 
    Concretely stating that Naoto is trans or not is incorrect; there is no point in the game where their true gender is completely clear. Their identity lays within the realm of neutrality, as many archetypal heroes do, especially within SMT.  By saying that, firmly, factually, Naoto is trans, you are doing what society (and possibly the cruel player character) has done to them: you are disgregarding their true identity and using it to suit your own ends. You are forcing the character to fit this role.  Of course, there is nothing wrong with having, in your head-canon, that Naoto is trans, in much the same way there is nothing wrong with having a head-canon that Naoto is cis. But their true identity is left, within the game, vague.  Due to this vagueness, their character arc is representative of not the plights of the trans community, but anyone who has been confused about their individual gender identity. As someone who was going through similar issues when I first played Persona 4, it managed to teach me a lot about my own identity as genderless, just as Kanji’s taught me a lot about my pansexuality.  From Naoto, we learn that heroism is a gender-neutral concept; that society does not have to define who you are and what you will do with your life; and that one’s search for an individual identity should be a purely introspective experience, away from the outer influences that may pervade and distort your perception of who you truly are. 

  7. May the day that I’ll support censorship just because it insults me never come!
    The most telling sign one lives in a democracy is the right to be insulted. Boycott, yes. Demanding Atlus US to censor Atlus Japan NEVER.

    • NonsyM

       @frpcordeiro Atlus Japan already censors itself. References to Naziism and Hitler was lessened in the PSP version and demon attitudes regarding certain scenarios were changed. As a branch of the main body of Atlus, Atlus USA is as much within their right to “censor” Persona 2 as Atlus Japan. Compared to the Nazi references and demon conversations, what I’m advocating be censored is a fairly small part of the experience.

    • NonsyM

       @frpcordeiro Atlus Japan already censored Persona 2 in the PSP version. Demon conversations were changed to be less homophobic, though still homophobic. Hitler was put in sunglasses and called the “Fuhrer”, and the game never once calls the Last Battalion “Nazis.” Atlus USA is a branch of Atlus. As an extension of the parent company, they are as much within their rights censoring Persona 2 out of cultural sensitivity as Atlus Japan is.

      • Censoring oneself is one thing. Demanding censorship is another. I’m 100% contrary towards the later. Also, it’s not because it has happened in the past that justify me to demand censorship in the present.

        • NonsyM

           @frpcordeiro I’m basically saying, “You censored this game. If you’re going to censor this game, at least go to the effort to censor the transphobic shit, too.” Sure is unreasonable of me. How dare I ask a company to treat transphobia as serious of an issue as they treat not directly referencing Nazis.

        • @NonsyM Weird… I don’t remember calling you unreasonable or anything like it. In fact, I don’t have the habit of relying on aggressive stances in order to disqualify my opponents so that I can dismiss their arguments without bothering to analyze them.

          Let’s take your idea that censoring Atlus trans jokes would be okay because it is  nothing compared to they auto-censoring of Nazi themes. Let’s take it and run with it.

          So, let’s not stop at trans jokes then. Let’s go ahead and also ban Max Payne 3 for, as a Sao Paulo citizen, it’s portrayal insults me. After that, let’s ask out what other minority feels insulted and what would they like to see removed from games.

          As long as everybody’s voices are more important than the author’s that’s fair game, it appears.

          I don’t really care *what* you are trying to censor. It’s a matter of principle, pure and simple. It’s one of instances you have to defend somebody else’s opinion no matter how much you disagree with it Atlus has the right to communicate whatever it wants – even to insult or auto-censor itself. We, we have the right not to buy Atlus games until they please us.

          We don’t have the right of not being insulted.

          We don’t have the right to demand Atlus’ rights to be suppressed. We cannot banish the individual right, given by law, under the justification of the right of the many, because to deny the right of the individual is to deny the right of us all.

        • NonsyM

           @frpcordeiro  Thank you for that stunning speech, Ayn Rand.
          “Atlus has the right to communicate whatever it wants – even to insult or auto-censor itself. We, we have the right not to buy Atlus games until they please us.” Hey. If you’d actually read my article, you’d see that’s exactly what I’m advocating. I’m saying it’s insulting trans people and that that is a thing it shouldn’t do. Because, protip, targeting oppressed minorities with insults that contribute to a culture of prejudice against them is KINDA fucked up. I’m saying that Atlus as both a developer and localizer should know better, and that the consumers should not support them because they don’t know better.
          I’m not sure what sort of surreal space magic you expected me to work to actually get them to make these changes and stop doing these things other than not supporting their games. If you *READ* my article, you’ll see that I never advocated accountability to the government for these things. Throughout I’ve advocated accountability to consumers and consumers being held accountable by the community for what they support.
          If you can’t wrap your head around the basic functioning principles of economics and consumer advocacy because you’re too busy touching yourself to John Galt’s speech on the holy godhood of the individual, that’s fine, but don’t act like saying “Hey, stop writing this awful shit, Atlus. Stop leaving this awful shit in Atlus USA. Stop supporting these companies for doing these awful things,” is some Lovecraftian monstrosity of infringement on individual rights.
          Atlus has the right to make shitty, transphobic games. I’ve in no way infringed on that right or advocated infringing on that right. I’ve exercised MY individual rights by calling their shitty behavior out and advocating that they 1. Stop doing it and 2. People hold them accountable until that shit is gone.

        • @NonsyM I like when people try to dismiss others by saying “they have not read it” or that they didn’t understand it. I’ve not only read it, but did all the verifying when this thing was still at Google Docs for the editors to take their bite.

          Meanwhile, I think you’ve read what isn’t there. I dare you to find me saying you to stop writing your shit. Come on! Show me where I’ve said that. I’ll let you even try to insult me a bit more (that was the intention with the little John Galt remarks, no?) if you do. After you try, read aloud how pitiful this little exchange has been: you demand what I understand to be censorship; I say I’m against that; you then first try to justify your censorship and, after countered, declares I don’t know what censorship is while, at the same time whining that you-can-write-and-do-anything-you-damn-want (not that Ive ever debated that) with, what I can only imagine to be the sound of your stomping on the ground. I’m actually starting to believe you are feeling angry and insulted just by the fact I disagree with you. But regardless of your next immature comeback, I really hope you stand up to my dare.

    • si_fi_soul

       @frpcordeiro I think you’re misunderstanding what the difference between censorship and CHANGING HARMFUL AND OFFENSIVE CONTENT is.

      • @si_fi_soul I’m not… I’m really not. What I’m doing is to defend people’s right to say harmful and offensive things as far as the law permits it. No matter how disgusting the content is to me or anybody else. We can try to educate others, boycott the game, but we cannot change what are against our values when the person saying it doesn’t want to. That’s censorship still. No matter how noble your intentions are, that is still censorship.

        • NonsyM

           @frpcordeiro  You have no fucking idea what censorship is, do you?
          I’m exercising my individual rights to tell them to change their shitty use of their individual rights or I will advocate others use their individual rights to throw them under the metaphorical bus of making less money from us.
          That isn’t censorship.
          It’s economics.

        • si_fi_soul

           @frpcordeiro  @si_fi_soul Please educate yourself as to what the difference between “censorship” and “asking people to think about making content that isn’t disgusting and offensive through a legal, personally elected-for manner”.

        • @si_fi_soul I find it cute that you believe there is a difference between demanding censorship and “asking people to think about” censoring their works. It’s also amusing that it’s now a “personally elected for” manner, though that is neither featured on the article nor I believe you would accept the results of such an election were the resuls contrary to your views.

          But you are not in for debate, are you? Instead of arguing with what I wrote, you rather dismiss it all by saying I don’t have the proper education (i.e. one that agrees with your understanding of censorship).

          Tell me, does that tactic ever convinced anyone of your point of view or do people get tired first and give up?

        • @NonsyM Yes, and that isn’t censorship indeed. In fact, I did mention such options. Maybe you’ve missed so defensive you are. There is a difference between advocating for something and doing something. Censorship was advocated – to do a short recap, the article didn’t merely tell
          Altus to change their ways, but for the publisher to alter the work of the developers without their consent – and that is what I’m against: the thing you advocate for, not the advocating itself.

          Or do I need to write another meta-linguistic comment about this meta-linguistic comment?

  8. supersugoinet

    Ok, then. Should I boycott every game company that portrayed females badly, just because I am offended by it? Because I am a woman, and I can feel offended as such by, e.g., Batman games. So, I think I should never play Square Enix games again, because they do not “handle presentation” of women properly. “There must be a constant push for better portrayals, for better representation, and for better treatment.” So I think women should boycott games from companies that offended them.

    • Lunis

       @supersugoinet There’s a HUGE difference between the marginalization of women and the marginalization of what is probably the most marginalized group in world right now. Sure, women have it bad, but trans people have it worse.

    • si_fi_soul

       @supersugoinet Maybe you should start boycotting Square Enix or Rocksteady. If you find their portrayals of women offensive, it’s a legitimate tactic to boycott their games.

  9. AspelShuyin

    Posted this somewhere that linked the article, figured why not post it here:
    Atlus is an incredibly progressive company, and pretty much everything the person writing this article says is incredibly infuriating, not just from the angle of someone saying bad things about a series I like–haven’t played half those games, though of note, in *Persona 3 Portable* you can play as a female character, which I jumped at–but because it comes off as another American judging the morals and attitudes of a foreign country without first understanding them. We’re talking about a country here that thinks women should be lesbians until they’re 16, and who’s relationship to LGBT issues is coloured by ancient culture and modern Western ideals clashing. Naota Shirogane, for instance, is a character type known as *bokku-ko*. Literally, a girl who uses the masculine first person pronoun *boku* to refer to herself. That does *not* mean that she’s transgender, although gender *issues* are strongly at play in her story. In a way, from what I’ve garnered about Naota, she’s much like my opposite. She has no problems being female, but she prefers to be mistaken for male. After all, she’s doing a man’s work. People think she’s a man. They’ll look down on her less if they see her as him. Likewise, *Catherine* is another game that has had nothing but praise from the transgender community, leading me to think that the author is talking out of her proverbial ass. In fact, a close friend, trans herself, has loved *Catherine* specifically for the trans character, and if I wasn’t poor as dirt and generally not in the mood for a great story broken up by a puzzle platformer–seriously, that is like the biggest gameplay story segregation ever–I’d play it for the trans character myself. As has been pointed out elsewhere, not only is her treatment handled well, the main character already knows from the start, and she gets a happy ending.  Moving on, I love how an example of transphobia is a heterosexual male character seeing a transman in a skirt and saying “she looks cute”. This article even opens on a shaky at best premise. The only thing here that could even remotely be considered transphobia is the bit with Junpei at the beach scoping for babes, but not wanting to have sex with a transgender woman does not transphobia make. Although I do wonder how that scene plays out with a female main character in *P3P*, since there’s only one babe for me, and that’s ~♥Junpei♥~. So, the tl;dr: overreactionary, jumping to conclusions, complete lack of understanding of Japanese culture, and poor writing.

    • si_fi_soul

       @AspelShuyin Yes, transphobia is a ~ancient and mysterious~ moral from the ~ancient and mysterious nation~ of Japan, and because it is totally a cultural value that matters and adds so much to society should never be criticized.
      I’m not even going to start attempting to tackle the rest of this moronic block of text, it’s giving me a legitimate rage headache.


    As someone that considers themselves transgender, I’m going to have to disagree with this article. it just feels like its grasping at things rather then making an argument about a company being trans-phobic. Although it may have a point with Naota, which I suppose I should play Persona 4 to fully understand, but for now Ill just agree with. I do disagree with Erica, by far, she is the best example of a transgender person I have seen in a video game.The fact her friends don’t really care about her “condition” or treat her as any less of a person and just generally chat with her is just something to admire. While an argument can be drawn from the whole, “we don’t consider Erica an actual women” dialogue, you can also consider the fact they grew up with her and more often then not there are either romantic feelings or none that happen. To them, she’s just Erica, the girl they grew up with. But perhaps this is a simple empty half glass kinda of thing. Either way, there are worse companies then Atlus, and frankly I think they should get a thumbs up for including transgenders. The unfortunate thing is that we don’t even get a sort of spotlight, and to make an impact on culture we have to at least be recognized, its a slow race for equality.

  11. bicyclerepairman

    I played Persona 4 Naoto does not want be  man.  Were Do ever get that idea.  Same thing Erica   Catherine

  12. Which version of the Catherine artbook refers to Erica as a man? In the version that came with my Canadian (non-special edition) pre-order of the game, they use the name Erica and call her a woman in both French and English.
    Anyway, I wrote up a longer response to this post (and the comment thread) on my blog. Mainly because at first blush I can see why some of the other commentors would say what they did – for instance, to me, it seems like one would/could/should be completely and totally honest with an intimate partner like @DarylNoir  suggested. But then I thought about what it would be like to be rejected, simply for being who you are, by someone you really care about -and now I get it. Or with Naoto, I never even considered the character as transgendered, but I can see that’s a perfectly valid interpretation. But I do feel like it could go either way, depending on your view of the world.
    Link to the post (not sure if Livefyre can do html-esque links):

  13. bicyclerepairman

    I played Persona 4 Naoto does not want be  man.   Maybe it just me .Plus I’m seeing any  transphobia in Atlus games.For one thing Naoto is my favorite character on P4. She only girl I mostly date int the game. Not because I wanted to be a girl.  I thought she was cutest one out of other female characters.  Maybe I’m in to boyish girls. Also I  girls with short hair.

  14. bicyclerepairman

    I played Persona 4 Naoto does not want be  man.   Maybe it just me .Plus I’m not seeing any  transphobia in Atlus games.For one thing Naoto is my favorite character on P4. She only girl I mostly date int the game. Not because I wanted to be a girl.  I thought she was cutest one out of other female characters.  Maybe I’m in to boyish girls. Also I  girls with short hair.

  15. reirei


  16. reirei

    Hi, I have to disagree with your article.
    I noticed you didn’t play either games, and if you did, you didn’t pay attention or listen correctly. There is no transphobia and you are just changing information to match your theory and claim of transphobia.
    Firstly, Naoto is not transgendered. The game, and Naoto herself, stated she didn’t want to be a man. She just hid her gender due to her work.

    photos I borrowed from this tumblrpost:

    “Her whole story arc was her accepting herself and getting others to accept her as a female. She was just trying to avoid discrimination from the job she loves.”
    Your Naoto theory is wrong. As for the body surgery, it was exaggerated.The surgery her Shadow self talks about is actually code for death. It planned to kill her,not help her and if you paid attention, Naota did not want it.  Please understand what Persona is about and how the shadows work before writing about it.
    I relate heavily to Naota and I am not transgendered. I grew up thinking being a boy is better. It took me awhile to accept and embrace femininity after my parents took it from me.
    I am shocked at how you don’t seem to understand Naoto. You obviously didn’t even play the game,so what makes you qualified to write an article on her? =/
    On to Erica,
    When Toby loses his V-card and tells Orlando, Orlando makes a strange face but he does not reveal Erica’s true gender or even says anything. He respects Erica. Toby’s ‘it was weird’ comment is revealing information about Toby’s character. It’s character development and to reveal more info about Erica.
    As for the art, how is revealing her birth gender wrong? It’s part of her past and her friends know.  Why should she feel ashamed or bad about it? Why should any transgender person feel ashamed to admit it? Her friends stuck with her and accepted her, I’m sure her transition went well.
    As for the nightmares, it’s supernatural.  You think supernatural gives a shit about the fact you’re transgender? The nightmares targeted men. Men as in born-men, not men-who-believe-they’re-women-and-changed-to-women.  It  targeted men who were men from birth. It just registers the fact male aspect, regardless of outer appearance and corrective surgeries. It’s a really easy concept to grasp, devoid of transphobia, and you’re actually just looking for problems where there isn’t any.
    I wonder if you even know what ‘transphobia’  is. Giving away Erica’s  birthname and birth gender is not ‘transphobia’.
    *from google*
    Definition: Tranphobia is an irrational fear of, and/or hostility towards, people who are transgender or who otherwise transgress traditional gender norms
    There was no hostility in those things. They were just given out facts about Erica. There is no ill-intent in stating her original gender.  To say there was, is to attach emotions that you ASSUME there were.
    As for the babe hunt, boys will be boys. They’re straight, young and they like women. There’s no deeper meaning. As for the trans woman they met, they’re obviously immature and didn’t find that attractive. Finding a woman unattractive because she was formerly a man is not transphobia. I believe someone has the right to have a preference and it’s not ‘hostile’ or ‘discriminating’ to not find a transgender person attractive.
    A man might be looking into the future and a trans woman can’t have kids.  That’s one example. Everybody’s different.Someone can accept transgenders fine but won’t date one. There’s nothing wrong with that.
    Some guys won’t date omen who act boyish, is that them being discriminating?it’s simply not to their liking.
    This article is far too emotional, biased and devoid of any real truthful content.
    Please think twice before you try to slam Atlus’ name.

    • eazyguy94

       @reirei  You sir, touched all the points as I was reading this. Also, Erica wasn’t having nightmares because she was originally a man, now sleeping with men. It was because she didn’t stay with a single guy. She could have been cheating and not having an offspring, which is what Mutton wanted.

  17. Guest

    Just wanted to add that the English PSP re-release of Persona 3 changed the reason why the three ran away. Now, it’s because she’s too old instead of being a trans woman. I don’t know if the Japanese version is different.

  18. So I disagree with you about Erica. Though Vincent and the others’ comments are clearly transphobic, the dreams are exactly in line with what the game is attempting to say. The dreams are delivered as punishment from a literal patriarch as a means of getting them to behave in line with regressive social norms. Erica, having been born a man, is even more susceptible to these expectations than Vincent. Vincent spends the entire game tangling with the “wife and kids” pressure society expects of him, but it’s a big reveal to see that Erica has it even worse than him, since she has a societal pressure to act male.

    All of the sheep in the dreams are subject to divine punishment (the regressive social order the main antagonist favors), but isn’t the entire point of the game that no one should be forced to live like that? I didn’t see the game as saying a trans woman “deserved” to be punished like that– I saw the game’s message that no one deserves that sort of treatment and everyone should be able to live their life how they want. Considering how badly Naoto was handled, I thought Erica was a vast improvement, though it’s certainly true that the main characters lob a lot of offensive comments her way.

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