Some Japanese gamers reject Bridget from Guilty Gear Strive being transgender, one calling it “cultural plagiarism”against traps and femboys.
As previously reported, Bridget was revealed as the latest DLC character for Guilty Gear Strive. A returning character, he was born in a village that believed male twins were bad luck. Rather than have one of their twins exiled or worse, Bridget’s parents raised him as a girl.
Bridget’s motivation in his initial appearance was to prove his village’s superstition wrong by acting as a man and bringing home a lots of money through bounty hunting; despite being raised as a girl and having a feminine build. The character is the epitome of a “trap” — defined as a young man in an anime that is easily mistaken for a woman by both audiences and other in-universe characters.
In Strive, Bridget felt without purpose after to bringing fame and fortune to his village and proving the superstition wrong. As such, his motive to acting like a boy was now null and void, not to mention potentially how he should act when returning to his village.
Journalists and fans quickly latched onto how Bridget declared “I’m a girl” at the end of his arcade mode campaign in Strive, believing this was the character’s declaration of becoming trans. Bridget’s in-game profile also used “she” pronouns, and the character’s male symbol on his habit was now an androgynous symbol (using both male and female symbols); sometimes erroneously attributed to a transgender symbol.
However, the arcade mode cutscene in question came as the mode’s standard ending. Better performance unlocks different dialogue, and even an extra stage if all the prior ones are cleared “flawlessly.” The “perfect” ending has Bridget instead motivated to avoid “changing for others,” not wanting to lie to himself or his family, and wanting to be his “true self.”
Even so, acting without fear of judgement could be argued as either acting like a woman as he was raised (no longer needing to prove himself), or as a man (no longer fearing backlash from his village). While Bridget’s family did regret raising him as a girl — ensuring he had the best education out of guilt — how they view him now is also unknown.
Regardless, longtime fans felt it was out of character for Bridget to want to be seen as a woman. Prior appearances had him trying to act like a man and be seen as one. When given further thought, some were also concerned that Bridget had essentially been “groomed” into being transgender from a young age for fear of persecution, and yet was being championed as positive for transgender representation.
While the English-speaking western world was upholding or discussing if Bridget was transgender, Japanese fans of Guilty Gear, Bridget, and traps seemed to be different.
On Japanese tweet collating websites Togetter and Esuteru, Japanese users seemed to take Bridget’s confession as identifying as a woman (a “male daughter”), rather than being transgender. Others tried to explain Bridget’s mindset, and showed the differences in the character’s English official webpage and in-game bio compared to the Japanese ones.
@iuntue, a Twitter user dedicated to showcasing bad and inaccurate localization in video games, highlighted and translated far harsher comments from a Japanese message board. Those users rejected the claim of Bridget being transgender as woke or “policore” (a portmanteau of “political correctness” and mob or mafia), while a few less serious comments and more base desires were also shown.
“Wasn’t Bri actually into women
Just being into cross-dressing does not make him a homo.”
“Isn’t Bridget’s character that he looks, talks and acts like a woman, but actually wants to become manly?”
“Eh? Trans? Yuck”
“Moe [cute appeal] ending up being mixed with LGBT is real unpleasant.”
“Are the LGBT [crazy, nut-jobs via machine translation] screwing with history again?”
“Entertainment is being ruined because of leftists.”
“I can kinda get why they changed it. It’s because ‘My gender is male, but I was forced to be a woman’ would’ve been no good for policore.”
“It’s really sad that our Bridget-kyun makes a come-back just so he can be used for some woke shit.”
“Did he realize he’s female by his b—y”
“No nun outfit, so won’t jerk off.”
“Don’t take his peepee!”
Japanese Twitter user @akihiro_koyama — known as @wakari_te on Note — helped explain why the change to Bridget was a far bigger deal to Japan than the west was giving credit for. Their Note post was translated by another fan through machine translation and several adaptions as “40 Years of ‘Femboy’ or A Historical Explanation of Why Making Bridget a Trans Woman is Reactionary.” (“Femboy” is how the user translated “male daughter.”)
Writer’s Note: We used the same machine translation for the following quotes, which produced different results than the Google Doc in some cases. Pronouns such as ‘he’ and ‘she’ can be used erroneously through machine translation.
In summation, @wakari_te asserts that Bridget helped kickstart the femboy and trap “culture” for Japanese otaku since the early 2000s. “Bridget is a character with the setting of ‘a man who was raised as a woman for certain reasons,’ and she does not feel uncomfortable with her gender identity.”
“In other words, she does not seem to fulfill the requirements as a ‘transgender,’ @wakari_te insists, “but this may be due to the influence of the trans rights movement overseas. It seems that the official has adopted the ‘trans woman’ setting.”
“To be clear, however, it is only reactionary to refer to Bridget as a ‘trans woman.’ Japanese ‘male daughter’ culture and Western ‘transgender’ culture are fundamentally different cultures, with virtually no historical or cultural influences. The author feels that to label Bridget, a keystone in Japanese ‘male-daughter’ culture, as a ‘trans woman’ is tantamount to cultural plagiarism,” @wakari_te lambastes.
They explain while male daughter characters had existed in manga since the 1980s (not counting cross-dressing characters played for comic relief with how blatant they look like a man), with “Stop! Hibari-kun!” seeing that character treated as and associated with being a pervert, but was a “super beautiful boy.” The theme would become more popular in the 1990s.
“Thus, the ‘man’s daughter’ character in Japan began as a ‘man who wants to become a woman,’ or in other words, as a story about a trans woman in today’s parlance,” @wakari_te explains. “The term ‘transsexual’ or ‘okama’ [crossdresser] was used at that time, but it can be classified as a trans woman in the sense that the character wanted to change her gender from male to female.”
“In the 1980s, they were treated as ‘perverts’ and ‘abnormal,’ but since the 1990s, they have gradually begun to be treated as ‘women’ and have established a position where they can be respected. The first wave of ‘male-daughter’ culture began as a ‘liberation from one’s natural gender,'” @wakari_te educates.
The Note user admits the “first wave” of male daughter characters were treated as jokes, and only “women similar” and not real women. In KochiKame: Tokyo Beat Cops, male daughter Ai Asato (also known as Maria) had a magical sex change in Volume 111 in 1998. @wakari_te insists this was “a symbolic event” as many similar characters had previously failed to fulfill their desire to become a woman.
“Brigitte gave a Copernican turn to this structure,” @wakari_te preaches, as part of the “men forced to wear women’s clothing” second wave. After providing a brief overview of Bridget’s history, @wakari_te explains “Unlike the ‘man girl’ characters of the first wave, they do not have the desire to ‘become a woman.’ On the contrary, they sometimes make a hobby of ‘striving to be manly’ in the shadows.”
“Bridget was free from ‘sexual conflicts’ and ‘friction with others because of her cross-dressing,’ and she exuded a cheerful and innocent atmosphere. Bridget’s popularity exploded,” @wakari_te asserts.
“The ‘cheerful and innocent girl’ has been the most typical character form of ‘male daughters’ to this day, and Brigitte is undoubtedly the one who laid the foundation for this character. The ‘male daughter’ character was forced to wear women’s clothing for some reason or other, which freed the ‘male daughter’ from sexual conflicts and frictions with her surroundings.”
@wakari_te highlights similar characters then arose in the early 2000s; Hayate Ayasaki of Hayate the Combat Butler, Mizuho Miyanokouji of Otome wa Boku ni Koishiteru, and Ryo Akizuki of the IDOLM@STER series. “They all identify as male and look feminine, but for some reason they are forced to wear women’s clothing, and thus are largely free from the conflicts and frictions that are characteristic of ‘trans women.'”
“In other words, by daring to make the gender identity of ‘male daughters’ male, ‘male daughter’ culture has made it possible to create a variety of characters. The third wave of the 2010s saw “Gender Transcendent” characters, and it is here we rely on the Google Doc translation.
The third wave male daughters chose to dress as women but typically identified as men and didn’t have the first wave’s desire to become a woman. Hideyoshi Kinoshita of Baka and Test “prefers to dress as a woman and is treated as a woman by those around him. His gender is ultimately assigned as ‘Gender: Hideyoshi’ and he is treated as a third gender.”
“In other words, after the third wave, ‘femboys’ acquire a gender that could be called ‘queer,'” @wakari_te explains. “They are neither women nor men, and they come to define themselves as ‘beings that transcend gender’.”
@wakari_te explains how some first wave male daughters tried to become women due to having feelings for other men, and bound by the gender norm of “if you fall in love with a man, you have to become a woman.” “However, the third wave of ‘femboys,’ after the second wave, are now completely free from the existing gender norms.”
“They dress up as women while identifying themselves as men, they do not pretend to be a man or a woman, and they do not hesitate to fall in love with women or men. The ‘femboys’ culture from the third wave to the present has become free from the norms of ‘what a man should be like’ and ‘what a woman should be like’,” @wakari_te upholds.
“When we look at the cultural history of ‘femboys’ in this way, we can understand how reactionary it is to change Bridget to ‘transgender,’ @wakari_te summarizes. “The first wave of ‘femboys’ in Japan were strongly transgender, but only because they were bound by gender norms. As long as they fell in love with men, they had to become women. That is why these women were not free from conflicts and troubles surrounding their sexuality.”
“Then Brigitte appeared as a pioneer of the second wave, laying the foundation for the cultural paradise of ‘cross-dressing as an expression of one’s identity’ instead of ‘cross-dressing to fall in love with a man’,” @wakari_te dictates.
“This spread not only to two-dimensional culture but also to three-dimensional culture, culminating in the ‘femboy’ culture that distanced itself from the LGBT movement as represented by Kaoru Oshima,” the user added, alluding to a former pansexual cross-dressing porn star who shared their experiences in an autobiography.
“Of course, what I have described in this article is the history of ‘femboys’ culture, not the history of transgender culture. However, linking Japan’s unique ‘femboys’ culture to ‘transgender’ culture too easily can only be described as cultural plagiarism that disregards the historical context,” @wakari_te rejects.
“Japan’s ‘femboy’ culture has developed its own queer culture of ‘gender transcendence’ at the end of its long history. It is completely incompatible with Western gender ideology that tries to keep MtF transgender people in the ‘female’ category,” @wakari_te argues.
“The reason why Brigitte was designated as a ‘trans woman’ may have been due to the image strategy and consideration for the political correctness that rages in other countries,” @wakari_te proposes. “However, we hope that by looking back at the significant impact that Brigitte has had on ‘femboy’ culture, we can deepen our understanding of Japanese ‘femboy’ culture.
“Yeah. I think it’s cultural appropriation too,” agreed @seri3ma, summarizing Bridget’s change as “Political cultural appropriation done with moral pressure, disguising it as common sense.”
@mombot — a Japanese native and major supporting figure during GamerGate — shared similar thoughts. “Japan’s ‘otoko no ko’ (男の娘) [girl with a male face] movement and transexuality are not the same, and re-writing 男の娘 characters as transgender amounts to harmful sexual colonialism in which one queer subculture erases and undermines another when they should be mutually supportive.”
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