Battle of the Trans

It is true that transgendered people can be marginalized. It also true that a lot of violence can come at a person who is transgendered. Even if someone wanted to be dishonest to the highest degree and claim that some transgendered people don’t face discrimination they couldn’t do it with a straight face. However when someone wants to try so hard to inject a transgendered person into a video game that becomes a whole different kind of problem. When something like this goes down one can expect that many gamers will respond and the responses won’t be so kind.

 

Take Brianna Wu for example. Brianna is a transgender woman. She is known to make splashes online with information that can be factual or just flat out lies. There is no other way to interpret it without being intellectually dishonest. Oh but there are those times where Brianna appears to be mistaken on some issues. Enter Oryx aka The Taken King from the popular Destiny video game. Brianna caused some cheering and also quite a bit of jeering when she made some statements. Polygon also backed her.

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When someone goes and criticizes a game like Destiny using Brianna Wu’s tactics such as proclaiming Samus from the Metroid series to be a trans woman (which is an issue that will be later addressed in future blogs) that will almost assuredly create some anger. Now to those of you reading this who aren’t even gamers and never played Destiny it is easy to assume that Oryx is a transgendered male. Of course that person would have to throw out all understanding of what it means to be transgendered but we should  include everyone no matter how ignorant they may be on the issue.

 

To proclaim Oryx as a transgendered woman is to create controversy due to Destiny’s large following. There were numerous accounts of transgendered individuals who were insulted by this. After all it isn’t hard to see why those people would interpret this as someone quite literally comparing them to a hideous space creature who tries to dominate the entire universe. At the same time there were gamers who just didn’t want this kind of identity politics injected into games. But then there were those who were avid followers of the Destiny series and knew the lore of the game that knew better than to believe this Polygon article or Brianna Wu for that matter.

 

Anyone who has played the game will probably inform you of the “grimoire” which is the in-game bestiary information, character information and general information about every environment, planet, faction and even history within the game. In that grimoire explanations of every species are given and even the Hive race that Oryx belongs to is mentioned. Everything about the hive speaks of evil, darkness and utter despair should someone run into them. So right off the bat the transgendered gamers who were offended are validated with such information being readily available about the species they believe they are being compared to.

 

The specific claim that Oryx is transgendered is so wrong on so many levels for those of us who are students of the Destiny grimoire that some of us find the suggestion utterly laughable. First, let us read below what the hive actually are.

Destinypedia

“Hive are born from pupae, much like colonial insects, and they feed on worms that they swallow whole.[25] Hive show traits of sequential hermaphroditism; All are born biologically female, and gain the ability to metamorphosize into male forms and back again as they reach adulthood.”

Now that would make a lot of sense given what some of us known about the Hive. But notice some of the words that are being used. “Pupae”, “insects”, “worms”, “hermaphroditism” and mentions of changing genders. Now it is easy to understand how someone can misinterpret that as being transgendered. But let us be clear. Being transgendered and being a biological hermaphrodite is in no way the same. If anyone wants to question this then we’ll let Webster decide the argument.

Merriam-Webster

  • 1:  an abnormal condition especially among the higher vertebrates of having both testicular and ovarian tissue in the same individual—compare intersexuality, pseudohermaphroditism

  • 2:  a normal condition of most plants and some animals (as an earthworm) in which male and female reproductive organs are present in the same individual

 In other words what Merriam-Webster is describing is something like a clown fish. There are multiple hermaphrodites in nature. These animals and even some plants tend to change their biological sex in order to reproduce and ensure the survival of their species. This clever and amazing adaptation has served many species well through Earth’s history of life.
:  of, relating to, or being a person (as a transsexual or transvestite) who identifies with or expresses a gender identity that differs from the one which corresponds to the person’s sex at birth
Now if someone can spot how being transgendered is the same as being a hermaphrodite then that person deserves the medal of all medals. Someone not identifying as a gender, refusing the idea of a gender or believing they have a different gender identity than what they were born as is clearly not the same as an earthworm who changes gender based off of biological need. It is not the same and even the dictionary definitions demonstrate this.
So then what are we left with? If Oryx and the hive are not transgendered than what are they? After all all that mention of worms, insects and pupae. But wait, are you starting to see a trend here? These hive creatures live underground, are mostly blind, can change genders based off of need, appear to reproduce and act like insects and other factors appear to show something. What other animal acts this way with exception to eating worms? Oh! We know what animal is just like that! That would be the earthworm! So what Brianna Wu and Polygon tried so desperately to coin as a transgendered person is actually a biological hermaphrodite that clearly isn’t the same as a transgendered person.

“Night crawlers are so named because they are usually seen feeding above ground at night. They burrow during the day—typically keeping close to the surface—capable of digging down as deep as 6.5 feet (2 meters).

The worm’s first segment contains its mouth. As they burrow, they consume soil, extracting nutrients from decomposing organic matter like leaves and roots. Earthworms are vital to soil health because they transport nutrients and minerals from below to the surface via their waste, and their tunnels aerate the ground. An earthworm can eat up to one third its body weight in a day.

 

Night crawlers also mate on the surface. They are hermaphroditic but do not self-fertilize. Following mating, each worm forms a tiny, lemon-shaped cocoon out of a liquid secreted from its clitellum, the familiar-looking bulge seen near the first third of the earthworm’s body. The sperm and egg cells are deposited inside the cocoon, and it is buried. After a two- to four-week gestation period, the baby worms emerge.”

In other words it is pretty clear which animal the hive were probably modeled after and that animal almost certainly has to be the earthworm. The similarities are just too striking. The hive dig, are hermaphrodites, cannot see but react to light (which ironically one of the main mechanics in Destiny is something called “light” and that makes sense given that the hive are the main enemies with Oryx and react to light like an earthworm would), live underground and consume a lot of food very quickly and in shocking amounts given their relative size.
So we are left to brand Brianna Wu and this Polygon article whose author is Laura Dale are categorically wrong. What is even more surprising is that Brianna Wu, being a transgendered woman, would probably cause someone to wonder why she didn’t know better than to support something like this even when it was so wrong. Brianna is a known player of the Destiny game as she discusses the game quite often. Even with the in-game knowledge and even with dictionaries being a dime a dozen she still managed to get this wrong. However this isn’t surprising. Brianna has said some rather asinine things before.
Below is a short list of some of the craziest things Brianna has said. Enjoy!
She thinks she is somehow Batman.
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She believes that people getting pissed that she wants to try to motivate change of a beloved character equals transphobia.
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Brianna Wu never tried to force something down someone’s throat, right?
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In one breath she’ll say she is not privileged and yet we read something like this.
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What happens when you question Brianna Wu and you don’t threaten, use profane language towards, sexually harass or even harass her but just make a general comment?
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Sources:

Polygon

National Geographic (Earthworms)

Merriam-Webster (Transgender)

Merriam-Webster (Hermaphroditism)

IGN (Hive Race Description)IGN (Hive Race Description)

Destinypedia

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