I love Zelda. For almost 20 years, since 1998, I’ve been a hardcore fan, I’ve played (almost) every title all the way through and to say I was excited about the release of Breath of the Wild is an understatement. That’s why the transphobic quest players must complete was so gut wrenching.
For the last four years, I have I followed every bit of news about Breath of the Wild’s development. When I found out it had inspired elements of Nintendo’s new system, The Switch, I realized I would have to find a way to afford it. Thankfully both the Switch and the new Zelda were released at the end of Q1 when I file my tax returns. In short I spent $480.00 CDN to buy the new Zelda game (including the console, which I bought solely for Zelda) and with an additional $30 for the recent DLC that makes $530.00CDN – you’re welcome Nintendo.
The game is just, well it’s basically perfect. I joined the franchise with the release of Ocarina of Time, 20 years later it is beginning to show it’s age but the contribution it made to both video games as an industry, a generation of gaming fans, the Zelda franchise, and the Nintendo brand is huge. Nintendo has put out some good Zelda games since then: Majora’s Mask is one of my favourite games ever, Wind Waker was surprisingly excellent and showed bold new paths for the franchise, Twilight Princess has aged quite well, Skyward Sword is the best they could do on the Wii and a critical title for the canon story, even some of the eight and 32 bit games like Link’s Awakening, A Link to the Past, the Minish Cap or the Oracle Games are really well done.
However, there has not been such a ground breaking and frankly perfect game as Breath of the Wild in more than 20 years. Which I why it made Nintendo’s bullshit interaction with cross-dressing that much more frustrating.
For those uninitiated – the Gerudo are an in-game tribe of all women who live in the desert. Once every 100 years a man is born but otherwise, the group is effectively an Amazonian-style tribe transplanted into the desert. They featured prominently in Ocarina of Time and Majora’s Mask but sorta fell off the radar, until Breath of the Wild where the reappear, once again in the desert.
Early in the game, I ended up over there and quickly found out that since my character Link was a ‘Voe’ (Gerudo for a man) I would not be able to enter their town.
Suddenly I knew where this was headed – I did some cursory research on the internet only to find that yes – Nintendo had included in the main storyline an arc that required that main character to dress as a woman, in orders to deceive a group of women.
My heart sank.
Nintendo starts by making you track down a man who already snuck into the town. You find him dressed in drag then it proceeds to get bad.
This is the sort of insidious bullshit that I grew up with – it’s the bullshit premise behind Mrs. Doubtfire, the bad guy in Ace Ventura Pet Detective – transwomen are traps, deceitful men pretending to be women to infiltrate women-only places. The trope is at the heart of inspiration for the hateful bathroom laws and blatant discrimination that plague trans people today.
So frankly, fuck you Nintendo for taking easy points at our expense. Fuck you because I’m trans person who was slighted, a much bigger fuck you over the closeted transgirls who had to deal with this bullshit from you. Fuck you because you’re a huge company scoring points off of a marginalized group, fuck you because I spent $500+ to play this game and other than this stupid, stupid shit you included it really is one of the best video games I have ever played and will, therefore, keep playing it.
The point is…. WHY?????? Why couldn’t one of a million other fucking situations happen????? Why did you have to do this one specific thing?
On the bright side, this means that there are girl’s clothes Link can wear in-game, making it the first Zelda game where Link can fight the forces of Ganon dressed as a girl.
The problem is that the girl’s clothes suck. They offer almost nothing except some heat resistance when worn as a set, which granted is useful in parts of Hyrule. However, there is an in game feature that lets you ‘enhance’ various clothing items to increase their defensive ability or other properties. The Gerudo women’s clothing cannot be enhanced and is one of the very few items that can’t be. What that means is the mechanics of the game force you to dress as a woman to infiltrate one town then afterwards encourage you not to wear those clothes again.
Well you know what? The joke is on you Nintendo – you let us dye character clothes and frankly the ‘tunics’ Link wears and can get through amibos are little more than green dresses. Pictured below, I’m working to let Link live her truest life.
Link is, has, and always will be, a transwoman and whoever greenlit that plot arc sucks.