So, let’s talk about Birdo: the egg-spitting pink gal that showed herself to us first in Super Mario Bros. 2
Birdo, according to the manual of the game ‘ is a boy, who believes that he is a girl, and would rather be referred to as “Birdetta”’ Technically, this does not mean that Birdo falls under the category of Gay, but in the spirit of LGBT equality, she is finding her way in to my article.
First of all, I am going to let it be said that I will refer to Birdo as a she, because that’s what the character wishes. So, whether she is a boy or not, I am going to call her ‘she’ henceforth.
Initially, I feel Nintendo created this character as a ‘gender-confused’ enemy, to add a level of ridicule, or a novelty enemy as it were. You see this a lot in enemies; there’s an eccentric nature to a lot of classical villains that tend to teeter on the flamboyant precipice of being camp… Whether this was intended as a level of offense or not, isn’t clear; due to the zeitgeist, I have a strong feeling it was intended without malicious intent, but to alienate the enemy.
It was definitely an issue somewhere down the line because when the game was later released, the manual was adjusted to say “Her name is Catherine but she prefers to be called Cathy.” This means that either parents complained at Nintendo for bringing the idea of transgendered individuals to their children’s mind, or people feeling that they were in the incorrect gender were offended by the portrayal.
It got to a point where her gender wasn’t referred to at all. I mean, as her creator, I guess they have the freedom to do whatever they wish, but the fact they made her a boy who wanted to be a girl in the first place, means it’s enough to discuss.
Soon, they said that Birdo’s gender was indeterminate, that she was neither male nor female, but it was too late – people already had the information. We knew there was something there and so did Nintendo.
Later, she was retconned as Female, which led to the widespread idea that she underwent a sex change operation. That’s what I’d like to believe.
Birdo is now a prolific and reoccurring character in the Mario games. She has appeared on the Tennis Court, in the Kart’s; she’s made her way around. She even has found a boyfriend in the open-minded Yoshi.
I feel this is one of those topics that has been excavated for much more than it is, but that’s the nature of these things – and why not?! Everyone enjoys fan theories, everyone enjoys delving deeper in to the things they love, so why not look at this? Why not celebrate this?!
As the times of changed, Nintendo have not been as vocal about her gender, but people know. They know she is transgendered; it’s in the community and they cannot take it back. Birdo has actually been voted as one of the favourites of the female characters in Nintendo, alongside Banjo and Kazooie’s Kazooie, and even The Twilight Princess, Midna, herself! What a wonderful result for a transgendered character.
Nintendo, don’t seem to mind anymore, either – hell, even the Toadstool’s can choose their gender, it’s all down to whatever they want and I’ll probably discuss that on some level later on. But why not?! They have the complete freedom to make whatever they want, why not allow the characters to get sex changes, or to choose their genders, or to be gender fluid?! It’s nice now that she is a recognised and welcome member of the Mario roster and no longer an enemy. She has seen the right path, just like the angry Donkey Kong did and now she’s a character people would fight for.
Though I feel this was not an intended story for this character to travel, it is a story that many people love and respect.
Besides, if it weren’t for her gender status, she may have just been another enemy who is barely a forefront character like Lakitu, who always just seem to be somewhere.
Birdo, deservingly, is labelled as the ‘First Transgender Videogame Character’ and that’s why we love her! Congratulations on being who you are and marrying someone you want to be with, and wants to be with you, Birdo! You deserve it after all the hiding up they tried to do, but now you are who you are and we love you!