Howdy, Stranger!

It looks like you're new here. If you want to get involved, click one of these buttons!

Categories

Neverwinter Nights: Enhanced Edition has been released! Visit nwn.beamdog.com to make an order. NWN:EE FAQ is available.
Soundtracks for BG:EE, SoD, BG2:EE, IWD:EE, PST:EE are now available in the Beamdog store.
Attention, new and old users! Please read the new rules of conduct for the forums, and we hope you enjoy your stay!

My thoughts on Mizhena as a transgender person myself

Hey there Beamdog forums. I just wanted to give my feelings on the inclusion of this character from the perspective of someone who is trans.

For background: I was born 1991, as a biological male. As early as I can remember, I have wished that I was born female. When I was in kindergarten, my teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said a girl. My parents first recognized (but not accepted) my feelings when I was four and thought I would grow out of it. I thought I would to, but I didn't. I'm 24 now, I've been on hormone replacement therapy for a while and am trying to make the best of my situation and live my life in the way I feel is most comfortable for me.

Baldur's Gate is one of my favorite games of all time. I first got the game when I was 10 and loved it. I remember deliberately giving my character the belt of femininity/masculinity because back then I didn't know it was possible to 'change' your gender, I had never heard the term transgender and didn't even know there were other people in the world who had feelings like me. It gave me a deep sense of personal investment in a game series that was already incredible without it, and I've replayed the games more times than I can count.

I was really excited to hear about Siege of Dragonspear because playing new content in one of my favorite old games is like a dream come true. I won't get into my feelings about the expansion, I just want to talk about the inclusion of Mizhena.

Mizhena is a cheap, lazy, 'safe' character who is included for the sole purpose of having a transgender character in the game.

Let me just say that as a transsexual I would never, EVER introduce myself to someone by telling them that I am a transsexual. Being trans is not fun. People are mean and cruel to you. You are mean and cruel to yourself. I do not do the things I do because I want to be a transsexual, I do them because I want to be a woman. I want to blend in as a girl as a best I can, the last thing I would EVER do is draw attention to myself for being trans (except for this thread of course, har har). Even when people are trying to be nice it feels awful. I have had people come up to me, tell me they liked my clothes or hair, converse with me, make me feel good, and then end the conversation with "You know, I think people like you are so brave" and that sentence just makes me want to die. I just want to be seen as a normal person. Of course, usually when you get attention for being trans, it is not positive at all, which brings me to my next point:

The way your character converses with Mizhena is almost totally different than it is for everyone else in the game. You can be rude, mean, funny, or just throw a witty retort or remark to almost everyone in the game over the smallest thing, but even an evil blackguard who murders everyone in sight can only say "What a lovely name, tell me more", "How interesting" or "Good day to you". I understand that it would be politically incorrect to be rude or insult a transgender character for being trans, but to me all that does is highlight that being trans is different. The trans character is not on the same level as every other character, who can 'take' abuse from you. The trans character has to be protected from this because they're different. The way the trans character is implemented doesn't make me feel like "I'm just like everyone else" as I imagine the writer intended, it just makes me feel more like a freak or novelty. It's unrealistic.

The inclusion of Mizhena is utterly pointless. Having a transgender character just to have one brings nothing to the story, all it does is take you back to the 'real world', which to me ruins the immersion I'm supposed to feel playing a fantasy game. I would rather there be no trans character than a pointless one.

I also think that this was a massively missed opportunity for something special. There have been transgender people in many cultures across all of human history, and there are certainly stories to tell here. Why couldn't it have been done in a fun or interesting way that actually fits the game? Maybe there could have been a transgender npc who asks you to find the belt of masculinity/femininity for them. Then if you asked them why, they would actually have some context to explain that they're trans. Or why not make the trans character a full on party member? You could have Jaheira call Mizhena out on being an abomination against nature (choice words from my own mother by the way), and maybe over your travels the two characters bond and Jaheira learns to accept and appreciate Mizhena for being who they are. And if you actually made Mizhena fun, witty, and interesting, and had good dialogue and interactions along the way, maybe somebody in real life would actually have better feelings towards transgender people after enjoying that quest line. Wouldn't that be something.

Harshness aside, I do want to say that other than this I think the expansion is fun and I applaud Beamdog for working hard on it, especially for getting the old voice actors back. I'm still looking forward to what you guys release in the future.

bleusteelrashkaejoluvFrancoisEldrythtypo_tillygloinunitSilverstardeltagocdxPurudayadluxZoimosWilddreddInconnubooinyoureyesSmaugAutocratZaphas86rgckdownloadSceptenarIlincaproccoVyrulisseNonnahswriterjustfeelinathomeArndasArdullazutuKamigoroshiartificial_sunlightGelmartymashedtatersWillyML4CoffeethrallAzzaraYamchaChudomixHalfwiseronaldoArunsunDashivaButtercheeseSeraphDaggerXIVZarugalBurntSoulMiridorprem0nitionPelmaleonJuliusBorisovSkatandunbarQbertSon_of_ImoenBelgarathMTHSqueakyWheelsarevok57toolargAwong124Darigaaz87brusTriaxxVirelaiDarjimoody_mageFraglimatGorstaklaptopman666DabussparkleavDoubledimasMortiannaBaldurCloutieratakdogCamDawgScottfree9000WesleyamyaeFaydarkDamianusVitorFinneousPJRavenslightHeavylineShadowdemonGrammarsaladEadwyn_G8keeperMokonaRyuukaMirakBelegCuthalionDJKajuruZansoDraconistmcdNihilusImrixGreenWarlockMuroThe_Potty_1BenjaminSchneidendStradlinCr4zyJShYarivTenreccGenderNihilismGirdleShapiroKeatsDarkMagespacehamzterLoldrupErstarrungmorph4037Camus34AshielVasculioMontresor_SPlolienGrimo88IthualFandraxxKivan_DSer_ElrykMush_MushMidoriVaylorArthasMenaphosCrevsDaakCalmarBorrroHalfOrcBeastmaster
«13456714

Comments

  • FrancoisFrancois Member Posts: 452
    That's a very interesting post. My undestanding is that to really accept transgendered people would be to treat them like the gender they feel they are. By wanting to be inclusive they do more to treat transgendered people like a different class of people. In these games I always felt like gender identity was best left to the imagination of the player (except when they introduce a love interest NPC). Unlike race, religion or cultural background, sexuality is a personnal thing that is not readily apparent to others. Some exotic person might tell you about his faraway land in their first dialog, but it's clumsy to have them talk to you about their sexual identity. Although many people you meet on adventures have stange dialogs, so this character is not that different.

    I don't think Jaheira would find it unnatural. Some animals are able to change sex, even if humans are not so fortunate.

    PelmaleonSon_of_ImoenGenderNihilismGirdleMidori
  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,506
    Purudaya said:

    The backlash to this game hasn't been because a trans character was handled inartfully, but because she was included *at all.* They may try to obfuscate the issue with complaints of bad writing, but the endless comments about "SJW" and "liberal agendas" reveals a disdain for LGBTQ inclusion in gaming altogether – particularly with regard to gender identity, a concept which they frequently mock and deride.

    It may very well be that Beamdog made a mistake by including her as a "shout out" to transgender fans instead of writing a deeper character, but I can guarantee you the latter would have led to even worse backlash about how we're being "forced" to consume a "damaging ideology." In either case, I hope you get a chance to start seeing characters more faithfully depictive of trans experiences in future games and elsewhere. Thanks for your post, it provided a perspective that I hadn't fully considered.

    Yeah, that could be. But isn't this where people claiming to want better written inclusion have to back up that statement if there are changes to the character to do so? *-) I'd be interested in seeing such a response if Beamdog went down that route.

    booinyoureyesGenderNihilismGirdle
  • craymond727craymond727 Member Posts: 196
    edited April 2016
    Zoimos said:

    This is d&d, trans wouldn't really exist as there is magic and belts that can change you.

    Please, elaborate.

    Edit: Apologies, misinterpreted the sentiment of the post

    typo_tilly
  • Zaphas86Zaphas86 Member Posts: 47

    Zoimos said:

    This is d&d, trans wouldn't really exist as there is magic and belts that can change you.

    Please, elaborate.

    http://baldursgate.wikia.com/wiki/Girdle_of_Masculinity/Femininity
    http://forgottenrealms.wikia.com/wiki/Edwin_Odesseiron

    Those should be enough elaboration.

  • PurudayaPurudaya Member Posts: 816

    Purudaya said:

    The backlash to this game hasn't been because a trans character was handled inartfully, but because she was included *at all.* They may try to obfuscate the issue with complaints of bad writing, but the endless comments about "SJW" and "liberal agendas" reveals a disdain for LGBTQ inclusion in gaming altogether – particularly with regard to gender identity, a concept which they frequently mock and deride.

    It may very well be that Beamdog made a mistake by including her as a "shout out" to transgender fans instead of writing a deeper character, but I can guarantee you the latter would have led to even worse backlash about how we're being "forced" to consume a "damaging ideology." In either case, I hope you get a chance to start seeing characters more faithfully depictive of trans experiences in future games and elsewhere. Thanks for your post, it provided a perspective that I hadn't fully considered.

    Yeah, that could be. But isn't this where people claiming to want better written inclusion have to back up that statement if there are changes to the character to do so? *-) I'd be interested in seeing such a response if Beamdog went down that route.
    That's a good point. I do still think that no matter how many layers of dialogue it's hidden under or how many reaction rolls you have to pass to get to LGBTQ dialogue options, the community attacking the game would be just as pissed. I'm guessing no change will ever be "well written" enough for that group.

    I do have to admit, though, that I would have liked to explore further dialogue with the character beyond the single line of exposition we're given.

    typo_tillykillerrabbitGenderNihilismGirdle
  • typo_tillytypo_tilly Member Posts: 5,506
    If any are hiding behind a false desire to want the character better written, it will show if there are positive changes to the character -- and those such people don't change their opinion, still hating.

    But I have no idea what a solution could be. Splatypus (great name, btw), I, and the 2 other trans people who responded to the event could all get together and think of a more ideal scenario. Would that make the unhappy reviewers happy? I'm not sure.

    Honestly, we could approach some Gamersgate people (is that it?) to ask for suggestions on modifying the character's presentation (excluding the character altogether is contrary to the idea that the character is simply not well written) to see what they suggest.

    At this point, I've spent the day responding to 3-4 lines of dialogue instead of reporting bugs, helping people, or re-writing tickets. -_- I'm tired and not optimistic. No idea how this will play out for BG fans or devs.

    Zaphas86ArdulGenderNihilismGirdle
  • Zaphas86Zaphas86 Member Posts: 47
    edited April 2016
    I think it's pretty safe to say that it's unlikely this discussion will go real places without the input of the Beamdog writers. Would they change the character? Patch in some sorely needed depth and player agency options? Leave her alone and let us "deal with it"?

    These are all viable options. Amber Scott wrote Mizrena, and I truly truly believe, as a GamerGate-type fella, that artistic vision needn't be compromised by a mob of critics. If she absolutely believes her version of Mizrena is the best that it could be, she shouldn't change it. However, if she's open to constructive criticism and would like the opportunity to flesh out the character in ways that have been outlined through this whole discussion, I think it would be much appreciated by the community and go a long way towards fostering goodwill.

    Same goes for the Minsc joke making fun of GamerGaters. If they believe it's a worthy joke, let them say so and let it stand. If they feel that it's ostracizing part of the community, or doesn't fit Minsc's character after looking at it through hindsight, change would be welcomed.

    gugulug5000Blakes7PelmaleonMacHurto
  • gugulug5000gugulug5000 Member Posts: 201
    edited April 2016
    What I would really like to know from the people are currently upset, is what aspect of Mizhena is really the problem? People are saying that they're being force fed an LGBT liberal agenda. How would they fix that? What approach would make it not seem like a political agenda? There's nothing wrong with being inclusive of people or making people feel accepted. Is it truly just the writing that's causing problems? Is it the mere presence of a trans person? What solutions do they have? Aside from someone saying that there should be options to be rude as well, I haven't really seen any constructive criticism outside of this thread. Rather than just complain about an issue, maybe people should start giving feedback.

    @splatypus I actually think you are pretty spot on with your analysis of the issue. So the real question becomes, how can Baldur's Gate be accepting of people, without being overbearing? Mizhena should be included, but shouldn't feel forced.

    typo_tillyGenderNihilismGirdlelollobello
  • downloaddownload Member Posts: 25
    Thank you for this. I was fine with Mizhena, but this has made me reconsider her implementation. I just wish people's issues with her at large were like yours and not recoiling at the presence of a queer character.

    typo_tillyGrammarsaladGenderNihilismGirdle
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    I'm not really sure if changing it would be a good idea. I do think it was a bit hamfisted in its execution (yet I don't see why its such a big deal, there is plenty of clunky, even preachy, writing in lots of good games, movies, etc.) but I think it might set a bad precedent. It might empower people to be obsessively outraged over smaller things in order to get the kind of censorship they want. It is Scott's work, and she should only change it if she sees fit, which doesn't seem to be the case.

    NonnahswriterArdulThe_Reverend
  • xzar_montyxzar_monty Member Posts: 570
    Just a small point that a lot of people seem to have missed, somehow: we are living in times that are much more liberal than, say, the 1980s. BUT, at the same time, we are living in times that are much, much more conservative than, say, the 1950s. It's extremely interesting to have these two existing simultaneously, but that's how it is. And social media only polarizes this, to the extent that the conservative camp, especially, doesn't even want the other camp to exist. It's sad and it's disheartening, but it's hard to see what you can do about it.

    It's like, will the incredibly angry and badly informed people vote for a certain candidate in the forthcoming US election? You bet they will. And will the incredibly conservative people vehemently bash SoD on the net for that one small detail? You bet they will. These groups are much larger and louder than they were, say, ten years ago.

    Lord_Gay
  • ArndasArndas Member Posts: 42
    I am getting the feeling that a lot of people think of this as a solid white/black area and not of it as a spectrum. With a situation such as this you will get people who support it, people who are against it, people who don't really care, and people who are somewhat in between. The thing is, there are people on different sides for different reasons.

    In this case, not every person who is against the addition of Mizhena are LGBT hating bigots, and not every person who likes Mizhena is an extreme far-left propagandist. These assumptions do neither side justice for their opinions, and only divide the sides further (most times, but not all). I bring this up because I rarely ever hear it mentioned. I do believe that there are people who feel uncomfortable that a transgender character is in the game they play. I'll be honest and say I don't know what the ratios are in this case, but I would bet that the majority of Baldur's Gate players are not transphobic. Perhaps I am incorrect about this, though I hope not.

    Beliefs, however, can be changed. Attacking a side for their opinions will never have them listen to you, it does the opposite. Adding a character into a game in such a way that makes someone feel wronged does nothing but harm both sides. In the case of a video game, making Mizhena a realistic and personable character would have likely reduced the backlash.

    I think that the writers could have written better dialogue and given her a better story. I do think she was added poorly, and no it is not because she is transgender. I really don't mind if there are LGBT characters in media (or any other group for that matter) so long as they are portrayed as believable people. One example of a well written gay character is Renly Baratheon from ASOIAF/GOT. He is a plausible character that I liked.
    rip in pepperonis


    I believe that when some writers feel the need to include characters because they have something unique about them, they forget they are human. They write around that attribute as if it was the characters defining trait. Do include aspects of "X" in the character, but if you make the character into "X," then the character is plastic, uninteresting, forced. Back to Renly for a moment... Renly is gay, but that is just one thing about him. His sexuality wasn't forced, in fact, it was made believable through its delivery. You get a clear feeling that in Westeros, homosexuality isn't seen positively. However, to those who know him and care about him, his closed door relationship is seen as a tiny part of him.

    ArdulCoffeethralltypo_tillyPelmaleon
  • booinyoureyesbooinyoureyes Member Posts: 6,162
    edited April 2016
    @shawne Wouldn't the obvious answer to those concerns be to handle it on a case-by-case basis and try not to impute motives onto people beyond what they actually post/ I thought it was fairly obvious even in the Hexxat threads who was genuinely critical of the writing (which many times had nothing to do with her sexual identity) and who was just expressing their dislike for gays and lesbians. The same can be seen here.

    Ashiel
«13456714
This discussion has been closed.