When I Visited South Park As A Trans Woman, The Joke Was On Me


#1

After spending several hours jumping through quasi-superhero misadventures in South Park: The Fractured But Whole, my elementary school counselor called me into his office. He understood that I wanted to talk about my gender, and started with a simple prompt: Was I a boy, a girl, or "other"?


This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://waypoint.vice.com/en_us/article/3kvdw3/south-park-fractured-but-whole-transphobia-trans-woman

#2

Great article! I can’t say I expected much better from South Park, but it’s just disappointing that they bothered to put in the work to include marginalized people in a game (made in SF, no less) and then punch them down every step of the way.

For balance, what are some good trans inclusive games that don’t make their characters the butt of the joke?

For me, I marveled how Diaries of a Spaceport Janitor explored marginalization in a fantasy world. Every day, your character needs to scrounge for food, money, and also monitor their gender. The game uses its fantastic and beautiful world to dial up the chilling effects of rampant capitalism, as well as represent gender dysphoria as a game mechanic, without being disrespectful and drawing direct comparisons to those who experience real-life gender dysphoria. Curious to hear other thoughts.


#3

This sucks. I expected some discomfort from one or two characters as a joke about how some idiots feel put upon by needing to think before they speak, but not this, and not in this surprising volume. Much of this rivals the shit that Michael, Trevor, and Franklin say about trans people in GTA5.


#4

This sucks really bad then again it’s South Park.
I don’t know what I expected but it is still massively disappointing.
I guess I expected better from Ubisoft, don’t ask me why though.


#5

Sorry you had to deal with that :frowning:

It’s crazy how different the experience can be. I’m a hetero white guy so if I played the game, and made myself (as I usually do anytime a character creator is provided) I wouldn’t have seen any of this stuff. It’s a good parallel to real life white privilege.

I go through life without experiencing any of these things and if people like you didn’t tell me about them I wouldn’t be aware. Thank you for making me aware of these issues and I will always do my best to learn and be considerate of others. It’s probably not easy putting yourself out there knowing some people are going to attack you for it.


#6

I’d been hoping to see something written about this game by someone targeted by its cruelty. I’ve been pretty disappointed with how every review from a major outlet was by cis men and how easily they were able to gloss over it’s awfulness. Props to Waypoint for running this and to Jennifer for doing the work of having to play this garbage.


#7

Unfortunate and unsurprising. The problem extends beyond South Park. Cisgender people are all too eager to perpetuate the same tired, harmful trans stereotypes rather than trying to educate themselves. This is why we need more diversity in the games industry. Hiring a trans writer, or, at the very least, consulting with trans individuals could have resulted in an empowering experience that still retained its wit. Instead, we ended up with yet another property that others us.


#8

This is also a great object lesson in why “just a joke” is not any sort of defense for meanness.

Like, have these dudes just never considered that jokes can be mean and shitty? Because if they can acknowledge that, they have to know that they’re hurting vulnerable people. If you know your buddy had a bad break in his arm, then you can no longer “playfully” give him a punch in that arm.


#9

Personally I found Elihal from The Witcher 3 to be a breath of fresh air with how she is confident in who she is as well as Geralt not being shitty and just accepting her. Though she is a commentary on the myth of the “trap.” So this can be a bit offputting to some.

And I’m not surprised South Park handled this horribly. The creators seem to really hate trans people and see us as vile and humorous abominations.


#10

Really makes you wonder what other Ubisoft members thinks of the transphobic jokes in the game. Was there any objections from the staff or were they all fine with just ignoring how harmful this type of thing can be? Although I would certainly not be surprised to see transphobia among the gamedev community, especially considering the transphobic joke that one Obsidian dev used in their recent AMA.


#11

I suspected they wouldn’t be able to pull this off in a South Park game and it looks like I was right. This sounds absolutely horrid. As the article mentions, South Park has a really baaaaad history with trans jokes, to the point where it probably is responsible for perpetuating a lot of bad views about trans people. I would bet that a lot of younger people’s introduction to the concept of being trans was that awful Garrison episode. Guess South Park decided to continue the awful jokes instead of trying to grow up. Ugh


#12

Really good article. I expected the game would drop the ball, but this really succinctly articulates exactly how it actually happened.


#14

The game itself is literally making a surprisingly large number of statements about both sexuality AND racism. So hey, ask the developers.

Oh and open your eyes to the world around you while you’re at it.


#15

I’d rather eat bland chicken then a chicken where they just haphazardly threw in a ton of spices that make it taste awful. But we should expect and hope for some actually good taste in our figurative meal. Topics can be handled well, or even ok. But when people handle it terribly we criticize that.


#16

Having no representation at all is still making a statement about sexuality and racism, it’s just choosing to take a heteronormative view of it all. Apoliticism is still political, and South Park:FBW is purposefully using transidentity as a joke. This is not people making a mountain out of a molehill, this is the game taking a harmful stance and others responding to it.


#17

Comedy that propagates the status quo in the packaging of a game designed under the “more is better” philosophy is, by my definition, pretty bland media.


#20

bland chicken every day is exactly how any game with any advertising budget feels like these days, I was promised infinite worlds and cool AI through the 90’s and early 2000’s and I all got was some dry baked white chicken meat


#21

haha amen to this


#22

honest questions here
a) do you know what community you’re posting in
b) why are you posting here if you knew what you were getting into


#23

my dude we live in a world where a game taking the stance of “hell yeah let’s kill nazis” is considering Very Controversial by enthusiast gaming audiences

The issue isn’t “why can’t games take risks, maaaaaaan”, it’s that media marketed primarily to an audience of cis/straight/white dudes can’t be criticized for poor societal portrayals of marginalized people without those same dudes taking that criticism of the thing really personally.