DevourerOfTime

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The Femboys of Fighting Games

At EVO 2022, fan-favourite Bridget was added to Guilty Gear Strive. After years of fan requests and Bridget missing the roster entirely in Xrd, the fans got what they wanted.

Personally, I was very against adding Bridget into Guilty Gear Xrd. Bridget's story is... somewhat of a mess. Being born a boy, but forced to live life as a girl because of a superstition in the community about twins, Bridget went out on a quest to become stronger and assert that "I am a boy!"... while doing so in a hyper-feminine outfit with a stuffed bear.

So while Bridget became a femboy icon across the game's fanbase (and just the internet in general), you can see how I had mistrust over a video game company, let alone a Japanese video game company, being able to handle that gender minefield.

But I underestimated Arc System Works. They added Testament to the game earlier this year (another character that didn't show up during Xrd) and knocked it out of the park with them. Testament went on a journey of self-discovery after their angsty phase in XX, rejected gender in its entirety, and have been living their best life as an agender immortal.

And everyone loved it. Arc System Works did a phenomenal job in reimagining this character in such a positive light, a character that was defined as struggling and not being accepted. And people (including me!) became hopeful that Bridget might just return after all and be handled well when added.

You'll notice I didn't use pronouns for Bridget. That's because, with this new release, Bridget has gone through some changes. See with Guilty Gear Strive, characters have all been redesigned to "strive" to be the best versions of themselves. Which is a fantastically positive design philosophy in a world that is sorely lacking in that. Now whether they hit that mark is up to debate (poor Faust), but they certainly did with many characters, including one of the toughest ones so far.

And with Bridget? Soul-searching was also on the menu and, after obtaining strength and dispelling the superstition around twins, Bridget still didn't feel right about Bridget. After some support from Ky and Goldlewis in the new story mode, Bridget comes to terms with that and decides not to run away, proclaiming: "I am a girl".

And the internet exploded. While Bridget has certainly been a femboy icon for years, she has also been a huge icon for transgender players. Transmasc players see themselves in this character who was forced to be femme for her entire life now trying to burst out of that and be a man and Transfemme players see themselves in this character who likes traditionally feminine things, but was unfortunately assigned the wrong sex. Even Gender Non-Conforming (GNC) people as a whole, not just femboys, liked Bridget for what she represented.

(Obviously that's oversimplifying quite a bit and there is a lot of nuance and differing opinions, but you can see how some groups would be *incredibly* enthusiastic about this change and others... not so much.)

While I understand those who loved this femboy icon not being too enthused by Bridget being a canonically trans woman, there has been some pushback that has been, to be blunt, transphobic as fuck.

  • You can disagree with a writing choice for a character without being transphobic about it.
  • You can disagree whether the choice to make a character trans is what you would have done with the character without rejecting the notion that Bridget could possibly be trans.
  • You can mourn the loss of a femboy icon without going for the throat of every trans person celebrating this change.
  • You can not be a dick, a complete piece of shit, a complete transphobic asshat, and still say why this design decision hurts you.

But this is the internet and people inevitably didn't do that. So, to both help those mourning and those who are being attacked, I thought I would shift the attention away from Bridget (as much as I am happy for her) to other femboys in fighting games. Bridget's backstory might be... unique, but having men that are femme (or at least GNC) in fighting games is not.

So let's look at some of them!

UNDER CONSTRUCTION

List items

  • What? Puyo Puyo Tetris isn't a fighting game you say?

    Clearly you haven't been watching the Evo tournaments.

    Jay and his twin sister Elle are Tetris side of characters in Puyo Puyo Tetris.

  • Yep, sorry for spoiling part of Persona 4, but if its in his win pose in Persona 4 Arena, I think the secret is out: there's a boy in that bear.

    And that boy is very cute in a non-traditionally masculine way. And, while it can somewhat be explained by Teddie's naivety that he doesn't understand why dressing up feminine is not conforming to gender stereotypes, he still takes to dressing in girls clothing rather well, making a very convincing Alice.

  • Oh Chris. While Ash and Shion might fit the femboy label more nowadays, you were the first one in the King of Fighters series to wear it.

    I know some players that played King of Fighters for years not knowing Chris was a man. I mean, I was one of them, always thinking Chris stood for Christina or something. (Then again, I never followed the games closely until long past the point where he had died in the story.)

    But resurrected now, Chris is back in the roster of the newest game and back in the fighting game playing public's consciousness.

    Fun fact - Chris has only been voiced by a man twice: once for a Otome side game directed at straight women and once because he was voiced by an actor who came out as a transgender man. While its more commonplace than you'd think for an actor of one gender to play a character of another, it is something SNK has been trying to keep with Chris for 25+ years.

  • Link is an awkward one to include because while Link is male, he's also a stand-in for the player in most games. And, as such, his gender can be malleable.

    This isn't true in Breath of the Wild though. Link is a real character with his own backstory, history with different characters, and personality. And in the sequence of gaining access to the Gerudo town, while leaning on some N o t G r e a t stereotypes, definitely sees Link sporting a very feminine look and rocking it confidently while looking very cute.

    Its a sequence that has struck a cord with many, given the amount of cosplay and art I've seen of Link with that outfit over the years.

    Unfortunately that outfit is not in Smash, but I'll include it anyway.

  • While not available in either Smash or Ergheiz, Cloud pulling off that dress in FF7 has definitely awakened something in a lot of people, especially GNC men.