Paper Mario is finally flying its trans flag after 20 years

Paper Mario is finally flying its trans flag after 20 years
Images via Nintendo

Written by 

Tom Chapman


22nd May 2024 10:19

Justice for Vivian - well, it only took you 20 years. The release of Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door looks like it could be one of Nintendo's big hitters in 2024, and even as the Switch plods toward the end of its life cycle, some good ol' nostalgia is sure to make bank. 

Remaking 2004's origami RPG for the Switch is a lucrative move, and while the OG version of The Thousand-Year Door is already considered one of the best GameCube games, we'll take some updated graphics, music, and animations where we can. That's not all that's different here, as Vivian is also having her transgender identity restored.

Paper Mario: The Thousand-Year Door confirms Vivian's transgender identity

For this one, we have to head back to the original release of The Thousand-Year Door in Japan and the West. All versions feature the three villains known as the Shadow Sirens, and in Japan, we see Vivian being deliberately misgendered by her sisters.

Outside of Japan, territories like Italy kept this dialogue, while Germany and the UK scrubbed references to her trans identity. In The Thousand-Year Door's 2024 version, Vivian mentions the transphobia she has faced from her sisters has gotten worse, stating that she realised she "was their sister...not their brother."

With Vivian having faced bullying from her sisters over her gender identity, it adds more context to why she leaves the Shadow Sirens behind and defects to Mario's party. The key scene takes place when Vivian travels with Mario in Chapter 4's Twilight Town and can be seen at the five-minute mark above.

Although the industry has made some steps toward transgender inclusivity with the likes of Apex Legends' Catalyst, there's still a long way to go. Hogwarts Legacy included a transgender witch but was caught in its own trans rights row over J.K. Rowling. 

The 2024 GLAAD Gaming Report reports 1 in 5 active gamers identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, with the majority of non-LGBTQ+ gamers apparently not caring if a main character is trans. While Vivian isn't leading Paper Mario, she's still a pretty big part of the ensemble. 

Paper Mario fans cheer for Vivian

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We're not alone in our love for Vivian, with gamers cheering on the small (but simple) change. Over on the LGBT subreddit, one supporter seemed to forget about Birdo but championing, "Finally trans Mario 🏳️‍⚧️🏳️‍⚧️." Another joked, "I never thought I'd see us celebrating Nintendo adding transphobia back into Mario but here we are."

A third concluded, "It's good that they finally properly translated it, especially in the social climate around trans in the US in particular that you’d think Nintendo would want to avoid. It’s tough for them, but explicit representation like this does help (even if in a very little way)."

There's all the usual backlash, with some trying to twist the narrative that Vivian is just an effeminate joke character. Sorry to break it to you, but Vivian's transgender identity is finally canon across the entire Mushroom Kingdom and beyond. Vivian, you did it. It's just a shame it took two decades to tell your story. 

Tom Chapman
About the author
Tom Chapman
Tom is Trending News Editor at GGRecon, with an NCTJ qualification in Broadcast Journalism and over seven years of experience writing about film, gaming, and television. With bylines at IGN, Digital Spy, Den of Geek, and more, Tom’s love of horror means he's well-versed in all things Resident Evil, with aspirations to be the next Chris Redfield.
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