I’d Be Fine with a Transgender Samus Aran… But She’s Not

A very unassuming game for the NES was released way back in 1986. The game was called Metroid. In Metroid, you controlled Samus Aran, intergalactic bounty hunter, who has been hired by the Galactic Federation to go to the planet Zebes in order to rescue alien creatures called Metroids from Space Pirates led by the evil Mother Brain. The game was unique as you had to navigate through the caves of Zebes in a large 2D open-world like setting. If you managed to defeat the game under 3 hours, you would have gotten a big surprise; you would’ve found out that Samus Aran is actually a female!

Or is she? Because according to one Brianna Wu of the Mary Sue, she claims that Metroid’s Samus Aran is a transgendered woman and we should all “deal with it.”

Okay, I actually read the article and, just to sum up Brianna Wu’s main argument or proof that the galaxy’s most prolific bounty hunter is a trans woman is because one of the original people behind the character, Hirofumi Matsuoka, said it. The Super Metroid Guide, a strategy book released in Japan, included short interviews with the people behind the game. When asked if he knew any secrets about Samus Aran, the graphics designer said that Samus wasn’t actually a female; she was a newhalf. In Japanese slang, “newhalf” refers to a trans woman. So, that should clinch it, right? That should be proof enough that Samus Aran is a newhalf/trans woman?

Well, she is 6'3

Well, she is 6’3″ and 193 pounds…

Well, I have my serious doubts with the claim for several reasons. For one thing, the term “newhalf” seems to be pretty much in jest. While the entire interview may seem extremely serious, there are some “joke” statements in the “Secret of Samus that only I know” section, such as Matsumoto Mitsuru saying “[he] also want to know…” and Kimura Hiroyuki stating Samus’ measurements are 106-60-90. This roughly translates to 42-24-35 in inches! You can check the entire thing out at this link… which leads to the translated interview section of the Super Metroid Guide. By the way, the interview section was entitled “When Samus Was Naked.” That just makes in incredibly hard to take seriously!

But the biggest reason why I have my doubts is that no other source has come forward stating she is a trans woman. Co-creator Yoshio Sakamoto has never publicly stated in any interviews that Samus Aran was a trans woman. In fact, during an interview with Kotaku way back in 2010, two decades after Super Metroid was made, Yoshio Sakamoto explains that Samus Aran was originally supposed to be male but one of the staff suggested they make her “…a female character to surprise the player.” Hirofumi Matsuoka may have said Samus Aran is a “newhalf,” but he worked primarily on backgrounds. I do think Yoshio Sakamoto outranks him.

Super Metroid's backgrounds are sweet, by the way.

Super Metroid’s backgrounds are sweet, by the way.

So, no. I don’t think Samus Aran is a transgender woman, despite Brianna Wu’s claims. I would be totally fine if Yoshio Sakamoto outright states Samus Aran is a trans woman because, as the first and foremost “expert” on the character, he would have final say regarding her gender. However, refusing to accept Samus Aran as a trans woman does not make me transphobic like Brianna Wu’s follow up article.

Now, I’m a huge fan of fighting games, Street Fighter especially. Most of you who’ve played Ultra Street Fighter IV probably know of one of the new characters, Poison. She was originally introduced in the first Final Fight as one of the street thugs you beat down. She appeared as an unplayable character in Street Fighter III as Hugo’s “manager.” She first became playable in Street Fighter X Tekken (hate the name, by the way) and was eventually made a regular character in Ultra Street Fighter IV. And, yes, Poison is a trans woman.

Oh, there is still some confusion, with some gamers trying to convince others she was a true-blue female. Capcom has been kind of ambiguous with this information as it probably causes more interest with the character with all the debate and such. But the evidence that Poison is a trans woman leans toward this direct. Even if this hasn’t been confirmed totally by Capcom, practically all gamers already accept Poison as a trans woman. When I did find out Poison was possibly a trans woman, I was surprised but it was a pleasant kind of shock. I liked the idea that Poison was actually a man. Made her a more interesting character.

While we’re on Street Fighter, I do love watching Street Fighter tournaments. It just so happens that two pro-gamers just so happen to be trans women. Those would be Ricky Ortiz and Kayo Police. Now, I actually don’t like Ricki Ortiz that much. Not because he’s trans. Rather, I don’t like to see him on the stream because his main character is Rufus and I hate Rufus with a passion! He’ll use the tried and true method of dive-kicking his way to victory. I can’t blame him for using that strategy but, blargh! I just hate it because I’ve been on the receiving end of that strategy so often!

On the other hand, I do love watching Kayo Police whenever she’s on the stream! Kayo Police may not be as good as Ricky Ortiz but at least she picks a character I can respect: C. Viper. I know it can be frustrating to face off against C. Viper because of all the shenanigans she can pull off. But I do think using her takes more technique than using Rufus. So I do have to give props to Kayo Police for sticking to C. Viper.

Ultimately, if Brianna Wu wants to think Samus Aran is a trans woman, I’m okay with that. She can do think it and I’ll be totally fine. Some guys can totally think Poison is still a female and I’ll be okay with that. What I’m not okay is them trying to force what they think is true about the character which goes against official canon and force it down my throat. That I have to “deal with it” and, if I don’t, that makes me a transphobic. No, I’m simply going by what is the official canon as it stands. If it does change, I’m willing to adapt to the change. I can accept Samus Aran as a female who was orphaned at a young age, taken in by the bird-like race known as the Chozo, injected with Chozo DNA and able to squish down into a ball when necessary. I can accept all of that because it’s official. It’s canon.

And Samus Aran being a female? That’s canon… for now.

What’s your take on the entire issue? Let me know in the comments section below!

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