Journalists and gamers believe Bridget from Guilty Gear Strive was turned into a trans woman, solely based on a handful of cutscenes from the fighting game’s Arcade Mode.
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Bridget’s backstory in prior Guilty Gear titles dictated that he was born in a village where male twins were deemed bad luck, with one of the twins being exiled or executed to avoid it. Bridget’s parents instead decided to raise Bridget as a girl and worked hard to give him the best education possible.
Seeing his parent’s guilt. Bridget set out with the mission of making as much money as possible — becoming a bounty hunter — to return to his village and show their beliefs were false. Bridget also embodies the anime trope of a “trap,” a young male character that can easily be mistaken for a flat-chested woman by both other characters and the viewer alike. Astolfo from the FATE series would be another such example.
Despite this, some believe trap characters are representative, or even a mockery of, transgender people. In 2020 the mods of /r/Animeme attempted to ban the word trap from their subreddit, citing the notion that traps were so named as they intentionally attempt to “trick” others who wouldn’t be attracted to their original gender, and in turn a harmful stereotype of transgender people.
As a trap, Bridget is often mistaken for a girl by other characters within the long-running video game fighting series. In his story mode in Guilty Gear XX, Johnny also makes this mistake, even flirting with Bridget. “If you’re a guy, you gotta be bad. Don’t you agree my lady?”
“My Lady?!” Bridget replies in shock. After their battle, Johnny admits that he realized Bridget’s gender as they were fighting. “You. You’re a guy, aren’t you!” Johnny demands to know. “Sure am,” Bridget confirms. “This appearance… Well, it’s kind of a long story.”
This would seem to be consist with Bridget’s dialogues with other characters in Guilty Gear XX, and Guilty Gear XX Accent Core. Bridget in those games never considered himself a woman, but a man who raised as a woman, and was trying to act like a man to prove his the harmful superstitions of his village wrong.
As part of EVO 2022, Bridget was announced — to the utter delight of the crowd — to be the first playable character in the Guilty Gear Strive Season Pass 2, and launched shortly after on August 8th.
Fans were quick to notice the male/Mars symbol on his habit had changed to a mixed male/female symbol. It was assumed this was a transgender or nonbinary people (combining Mars and Venus), but others claim this may be the androgynous symbol. If the latter is true, some may have coopted or assumed the symbol was to represent trangender people, thereby making it that symbol to some.
The English official website also offered insight into Bridget’s story. It re-affirms his town’s superstitions and how he was raised. “Bridget began to think that behaving like a man and bringing home a vast array of riches would prove that the superstitions were unfounded.”
“Although unsuccessful in capturing Dizzy for her bounty, Bridget showed talent as a bounty hunter and managed to bring home great wealth. This led to the village superstition fading, but it also left Bridget without a goal. Bridget now works as a bounty hunter while searching for a purpose,” the bio concludes.
Fans also noticed the English profile avoided using any pronouns, using Bridget’s name in any such instance. Yet, other characters freely used “he” and “she” to describe the character. Machine translation of the Japanese webpage was inconclusive, as pronouns are not accurately translated at the best of times.
However, Several Twitter users also shared the character’s in-game English bio, where “her” pronouns were used. “‘Her’ We’re REALLY doing this…!?” bemoaned @LordShmeckie, later adding how it ran entirely counter to the character’s desire to be seen as a man.
Combined with snippets of dialogue from his arcade mode, many took this to mean that Bridget now identified as a woman. In one such video titled “Bridget Is Now A Girl” by Chaos Productions Inc, Goldlewis mistakes Bridget for a woman, with Bridget correcting him.
Later when talking to Ky, Bridget says, “I… I don’t know what to do. I’m not strong like you, Mr. Ky, I’m too scared of losing what I have.” Goldlewis interjects with “Runnin’ away, huh? Ain’t you a little young for a midlife crisis?” Bridget replies “O-Of course I’m running! I’m happy the way I am…”
“Discretion can be the better part of valor…” Ky advises, “But think about it. For the sake of your future self.” As Bridget ponders Ky’s words, he asks “… But what if I make the wrong decision?” “You got your whole life ahead of you, kid.” Goldlewis encourages. “Gotta learn to take a hit sometime.” Ky adds “And there are helping hands right in front of you.”
After consideration, Bridget says “I… don’t want to run scared anymore. If I keep on faking it like this, I know I’ll regret it… So from now on, no matter what… No more lying to myself. Thank you! Both of you!” As Goldlewis blurts out “Don’t mention it. Happy trails cowgirl. Or, uh, cowboy…?” Bridget replies “Cowgirl is fine! Because… I’m a girl!”
According to a report by Sankaku Complex (reader discretion is advised), “The Japanese version of the website specifically calls Bridget an otoko no ko [cross dresser],” and the aforementioned arcade scene is reportedly the same in Japanese.
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Kotaku, Polygon, Vice, The Gamer, Inverse, Fanbyte, GamesRadar, Gamer Braves, Gayming Mag, and more all ran articles mentioning or outright celebrating Bridget as “coming out” transgender, and as a symbol of representation. It wouldn’t be out of character for ArcSystemWorks to make the change, either.
Strive’s directors’ previously admitted to Famitsu that they had toned down I-No’s sexualized design in order “to make the game more accessible to more people.” The character Testament was also changed from a male character to non-binary when announced in March of this year.
Fan wiki pages updated the pronouns used on Bridget’s pages, and the character’s English voice actress, Kelly Ohanian, retweeted several tweets celebrating transgender and nonbinary representation.
@Marcanthony737 tweeted the arcade scene, and added “its official! bridget is transgender! you cannot comprehend how hard i screamed its not intentionally vague its loud and clear and of all people to show her that its GOLDLEWIS.” Ohanina retweeted and added “LOUD AND CLEARRRR.”
This isn’t to say everyone was happy with the change. Along with fans feeling the scene was contradictory to Bridget’s prior motives, Queer Vox — “The academy and community for LGBTQ+ voiceover actors” — condemned the fact Bridget wasn’t voiced by a non-binary performer.
Others highlighted their surprise that greater picture for Bridget’s character arc didn’t cause offense. “People clapping about this don’t understand the f—ked up implications,” @doomedspacemar1 explained. “Bridget is a boy who was forced to be raised as a girl against his will, who goes on to become a bounty hunter to show he is a boy. Then suddenly is emotionally manipulated into being a ‘girl’ again.”
Artist @Radio_Art107 (reader discretion is advised) further illustrated the point with their comic. After Bridget is congratulated he states “Thanks! Glad that my family was right to force me into a girl at such a young age and my journey to prove my manliness no matter how I looked, ended up being meaningless!” The comic ends with the caption “Grooming is actually pretty cool!”
In fact, partly due to the term “groomer” being used to describe those persistently attempting to push gender theory onto pre-pubescent children and teens, multiple Twitter users claimed “Bridget was groomed” both seriously and in jest. One of our writers also states “Bridget was groomed” trended for them on Twitter, though this may have been partly due to others discussing the claim even when denying it.
Regardless, it seems almost everyone has accepted Bridget as a girl. There’s just one problem: it’s not entirely true.
The arcade scene fans and games journalists clung onto is just one path, where dialogue changes depending on how well the player does in battle; if and when they lost a round (“Heart Lose”) or had a “flawless” victory. Better performance means more challenging foes.
SwimCheesy published a video showing all the dialogue in Bridget’s arcade mode, and it paints a different picture to Chaos Productions Inc’s video.
At the end of Stage 7, if players have lost a round, Goldlewis states “Lemme guess. You’re hidin’ your true self for the sake of other folks.” Bridget is surprised Goldlewis was correct, and Goldlewis explains he is in a similar situation himself, and while it was what he felt was best for his family, it only drove them away.
“I always though that, as long as I kept quiet, things would work out… But it hurts too much. I haven’t even told my parents.” Bridget confesses. Goldlewis encourages Bridget that he doesn’t “need to tell anyone anything you don’t wanna,” but the matter is different if “holdin’ it in hurts,” and how it could be hard to trust someone, “even when they’re real close.”
In Stage 8, if players lost a heart in Stage 7, Ky insists he’s different to how Bridget remembers him. Bridget says he’s “not the Bridget I used to be, either!”, explaining how he became a top bounty hunter and made a lot of money but Goldlewis notes he doesn’t sound confident.
After the Stage 8 battle, if players lost in round 1, Ky states that Bridget is stronger, but also more hesitant. Bridget confesses “I’m happy… But I don’t know if I’m REALLY happy.” Ky states that while happiness can be hard to define, but “If you have doubts, then perhaps it’s time you take a new step.” Goldlewis chimes in declaring, “Never hurts to get a good look at yourself from another angle.”
If players lost a round in Stage 7, the Stage 8 ending is the aforementioned “Because… I’m a girl!” line of dialogue. If they lost a round in Stage 8 itself, Ky notes Bridget seemed hesitant, and asked if he was distressed. Bridget admits he is conflicted. “I just don’t know if I should keep living like this.”
Ky pinpoints that Bridget is afraid of change, and he is conflicted because he still cherishes the present. He recommends Bridget consider what is truly important to him, with Bridget admitting “you may be right,” and thanking him for the advice.
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Should players beat Stage 7 with a flawless win, Goldlewis knows Bridget is “running away” from something, same as him. “I know what it’s like to turn back on yourself for too long. I’m still tellin’ myself it ain’t my fault as we speak.” He once again discusses being cut off from his family due to his actions.
“… Do you regret it? Turning your back, I mean,” Bridget asks. “I did what seemed right at the time,” Goldlewis states. “Same old bull.” Goldlewis explains looking at Bridget reminded him of “what it was like to be real lost. […] I dunno. Maybe bein’ real lost ain’t so bad.” Bridget states he has a lot of thinking to do, but wants to avoid regrets.
Should players have had flawless victories throughout, Bridget opens stage 8 stating he’ll learn the secret of Ky’s strength. Should players beat Stage 8 with all flawless victories for prior stages, Bridget praises Ky for his strength, which Ky puts down to Gears. In short, “Gears” are living weapons which ran rampant, and Ky — originally tasked with hunting them down — partly became one.
When asked if it was scary to openly confess becoming a Gear, Ky explains he wasn’t afraid what people would say. “I didn’t want to lie to myself or to my family. That’s all. […] Indeed. That was the most important thing to me. … I suppose you find that hard to believe.” Bridget explains he’s actually impressed, and wishes he could be like Ky.
“You are strong enough. All that remains is to decide,” Ky insists. Stage 9 — only accessibly if players have beaten rounds 1 through 8 flawlessly — has one last fight between Bridget and Ky. “Have I convinced you yet?” Ky inquires. “No matter what others think, I will not change. Not even if this body turns to Gear.”
“… No matter what others think, huh?” Bridget ponders. “I’ll admit that still scares me a little… But I want to live as my true self. At least that’s kind of how I feel now that I’ve watched you.” He even seems welcome to the idea of meeting former mark Dizzy at Ky’s invitation.
While Bridget’s arcade stories have themes about being true to himself and finding happiness, it should be noted from his bio Bridget is also without purpose. He begins having succeeded in proving their village’s superstitions wrong though presenting himself differently to how he was raised, leaving him — and the basis of his reformed identity — without purpose.
The “perfect” ending has Bridget admit they want to be their “true self,” with no clear indication this is as a woman — though not “changing for others” could mean either continuing to behave as a man in defiance of his village, or acting as a woman again despite it conflicting his now-completed goal.
Further, it could be argued the scene where Bridget announces he identifies as a girl comes from the “bad ending” to his arcade mode, compared to the other ending obtained through flawless play.
Regardless, the waters have been muddied, and in only one ending does Bridget consider themselves a girl, with other characters’ arcade modes in Strive, and prior titles in the series, sometimes being a more decisive “bad end” for them; ranging from bittersweet to failing their objectives. For example, Baiken goes berserk in one of her story endings in Guilty Gear XX Accent Core Plus R, yet this is not referenced in Strive.
“Perfect victory = no overt ‘I’m a girl’ line and a ‘be yourself, don’t change for others’ speech from Ky that could mean both ‘be trans’ and ‘be a gender non conforming guy,’ @tacticalfiend admits. “Starting to think [Director Daisuke] Ishiwatari is just being a two-faced c—t.”
User @tacticalfiend highlights two 4chan posts in a follow-up tweet. The first argues “There is no good ending or bad endings. The storyline is singular and continuous, there is no branching story paths. Winning or loosing any match just has reveals different dialogues to you which are all canon. Rematches are also canon so you don’t really ever lose.”
“It’s debunked by the fact the winner ending is chronologically last,” the second user argues, “where Bridget wishes for the courage to be honest with his family and the public. This means opposing their view, and their view is that he’s a girl. tldr cope.” This would be consistent with how Bridget is still mistaken as a girl by other characters such as Goldlewis.
“Both of these make sense;” @tacticalfiend proposes. “‘Being true to my parents’ from Bridget and ‘don’t change for others’ from Ky would mean the ‘Bridget is not trans’ people are right. but you can also easily read as the loss dialogue revealing Bridget’s ‘true’ identity & what Ky really referred to.”
@KotohaIsone2, also under the rather fitting “King of Traps” put forward a different take. “So apparently Bridget only pulls off the ‘i’m a girl’ in the bad/non-flawless run where Goldlewis keeps mistaking him for a girl and so he goes along with it in a playful manner Bridget isn’t trans, people jumped the f—king gun.”
“The flawless route is about him tip-toeing about wether [sic] or not he should keep correcting people when they mistake him, and Ky telling him that he is strong enough to wear his gender (male) on his sleeve” the user continues, adding, “there’s no mention of being a girl in the perfect ending at all.”
@KotohaIsone2 suggests,”or rather, – and that’s assuming Daisuke didn’t s—t the bed with his story – Bridget is afraid of returning to the village now that he established being a boy (and the village being murdery with twins) and Ky telling him not to run away anymore, which he convinces him to.”
What do you think of Bridget’s story? Let us know on social media and in the comments below.
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