Pokémon Crystal opened my trans woman’s heart

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I will remember this vaguely, from an article in a magazine or somewhere online: “Pokemon Crystal let you play as a girl.”

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Pokemon Crystal

Courtesy of Nintendo

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These ordinary words opened up a new world for me. At that time I was just a tiny child. And for someone I was a boy. Not that I would argue with them. At the time, I didn’t have any self-awareness as a girl. But, despite the lack of awareness, after reading an article about Pokemon Crystal gave me a great feeling of delight, which I could not understand. At the time, I didn’t know why, but I was excited and overwhelmed with emotion. The tidal wave is so powerful that even though most of my memories of the past have been suppressed (sometimes intentionally), that brief moment has stuck with me for the rest of my life.

The wave immediately crashed into sadness. At that time I lived in Thailand. I was a big fan of Pokemon and I already heard a lot of amazing things about Pokemon that were only available in other countries like Ancient Mew Trading Card that people got just by watching a Pokémon movie, The power of one, in theaters. Then I thought I could never get a copy Pokemon Crystal and was disappointed. I told myself not to be hopeful and try to forget about it.

One day, I stumbled across a copy at a local department store. I was delighted and immediately asked my grandmother to buy it for me, and when we returned home, I played it. He asked me for a name, but I didn’t have any ideas, so I just chose the default female player name.

Chris. This name was everything to me. I could select be a girl.

I became Chris and it changed my world. I was obsessed and immersed in the game. Even though I could only see it through the Gameboy Color’s small pixelated screen, it seemed more real and vibrant than my actual existence.

I continued to play long after I finished the story. I continued to play even after I had explored all corners of the world. I kept playing even when all that was left was planting and harvesting trees and when all the NPCs were giving the same dialogue. I was happy just to feel like I was there, just to see a little character sprite running around and being able to think, “I’m Chris. I girl“.

Even after the cartridge ran out of battery and I couldn’t save the game, I replaced it and went through all the adventures again. Pokemon Crystal that’s what gave life to my little transgender heart.

Even now, decades later, seeing Chris’ character design – or Crystalas it was called in some works, like Pokémon Special manga (pokemon adventure in the USA) would fill me with emotions. And also Suicunegame cover star for Pokemon Crystaland also my most trusted partner in the other world.

But what does Pokemon Crystal special when there are many other stories about transgender people finding solace in art?

Even if we go beyond my personal experience, since this was the first game I played that I could choose to be a girl in, I still think it’s remarkable for a simple reason: Pokemon large. It was a cultural phenomenon that swept the globe, and many of us are still enthusiastic about it. After all, this one of the largest media franchises in the world.

Many would say contact independent media for representationwhere different people from all walks of life write their stories with their own voices, and I agree. After all, I am an independent creator who also tries to create stories with my own thoughts and feelings.

But let’s go back in time to the time I discovered Pokemon Crystal.

I was an outcast child in Thailand who knew next to nothing about the world. If you were talking to me about indie games and media, I would ask: What is it? Can you eat it? It’s tasty? I didn’t know much about games and had almost no internet access. I didn’t even know where go online when I had access to it.

Because I didn’t even know I was transgender at the time, I wouldn’t have known to look for some kind of media to fill my heart. I knew there was something there, some suspicion, something pulling me, but I didn’t have the words to call it.

For some context, this was in Thailand at the turn of the millennium. People have mentioned to me before that since Thailand was international notorious due to the fact that there are a lot of trans women there, they thought it was an open and accepting place, but in my opinion, this is completely wrong. At the time, I vaguely “knew” about trans women thanks to a Thai term that I find derogatory and don’t want to mention here.

At the time, I knew that family members sometimes mentioned them, that they saw someone on the street or something like that. They were not treated like women, but like other people. thing. In fact most of the time it sounded like they didn’t even Humanjust some vaguely disgusting thing on the ground.

Thus, I mentally had no connection between them and myself, had no idea that being transgender is a concept that could be applied to Human, because those things not related to humanity. And so my little heart was closed and unaware.

I also didn’t want to walk up and try unfamiliar things while the Pokémon were already comforting me. This recognizable name also made it easier to request permission to purchase the game.

It was only because the Pokémon was big, and that I was already interested in it, that I was able to shape what I felt inside. It wasn’t until I became Chris that I realized that I wanted to be a girl.

Of course, Nintendo and Game Freak, the creators of the game, probably never bothered to think about transgender children when they let the player play as a girl. No doubt this was done to please cisgender girls.

However, I am grateful to the one who made the decision and subsequently lit up my life like a glowing crystal (pun intended).

I know I wasn’t the first, and certainly not the last, unsuspecting gay person to have an epiphany from a game or book they came across. Currently, games with detailed character creators that allow players to have any body they want are ubiquitous, but we should still encourage major developers, publishers, and creators to build inclusive, representative narratives into their stories.

After all, it would be very helpful to expose more people to stories and identities that don’t match their own, and develop empathy for their neighbors close to home and far away. We’ve definitely had enough people who refuse to understand those who don’t have exactly the same experience as they.

Besides, maybe – just maybe – they will be able to reach out to that one child who still knows nothing about the world and sees himself for the first time.

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