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“Poisonous” Trans Video Game Fighter Kicks Up Controversy
A controversial character is traipsing across gaming screens as part of the new Tekken “Street Fighter X” video game, the latest game in the Tekken fighting dynasty. Interest has swelled over rumors that one of Street Fighter X’s new characters is a bodacious, over-sexualized, kinky trans woman. And her name is Poison.
According to Kill Screen, Capcom, the video game company who owns Poison, has released several statements on the gender-identity of its character, albeit with a wink and a smile.
A screen shot of Poison fighting another Tekken character
According to Kill Screen author Jason Johnson, Street Fighter producer Yoshinori Ono confirmed that Poison “is officially a post-op transsexual,” with the caveat that “in Japan, she simply tucks her business away.”
While Ono has also released statements saying that Capcom’s official stance on Poison’s gender identity is no stance at all, Ono was also quoted in an issue of Electronic Gaming Monthly that he is “very proud and happy that people can see this character as their representative in the game world, due to there not being a lot of characters like that.”
Apparently, when the game was launched in North America, Capcom decided that Poison’s persona should be changed from female into a male cross-dresser, in order to avoid any possible objections to beating up a woman.
“If this story held up, she would have been born out of the outrageous prejudice that it is okay to harm transgender people,” writes Johnson. “Yet, it doesn’t seem to be true. Early concept art for her character was labeled “new half,” a Japanese term for transgender, implying she had been trans all along. But even if the myth is debunked, Poison’s current image is less than desirable.”
Objections from within the trans community are swelling around Poison’s status as a trans symbol, stemming from several cameo appearances she made in other games as a pole dancer.
“The first thing you notice about Poison is her body,” writes Johnson. “She is hyper-sexualized, dressed in a pair of Daisy Dukes that would make Daisy blush and a tank top that might qualify as lingerie.”
Poison's portrait from Capcom
Apparently, she also wears a choker, has a pair of handcuffs dangling from her belt loop, and likes to hit people with a crop, presumably so she doesn’t chip a nail.
Morgan McCormick, a trans blogger who did an interview for Johnson’s piece said that the very idea of Poison is at once problematic and positive.
“When I first heard about her, I was like, ‘so the videogame industry has trans people in their games? Then maybe it’s okay for me to be trans,’” she said in the interview.
But, she continues, when trans people appear in games they are most often trans women who “are almost exclusively depicted as sex workers, sexual deviants, or tricksters hoping to fool a man into bed. In other words, their identity revolves around having sex,” McCormick said.“She’s indistinguishable from every other empty-headed female character designed like her.”
But, McCormic concludes that this also means, Poison somehow “fits in.” Because she is just another half-naked, leggy woman on the roster, she’s “passing” in the video game sense—is this character assimilation in its worst sense? Or exemplary of transfeminist power?
Capcom has no answers except it hopes the controversy fuels more interest in the game.
For a trans positive video game, check out this web-based game built by Anna Anthropy, likely the only video game in existance that serves as an autobiographical account of hormone replacement therapy.