Episode 320: Why Poison’s Gender Matters (Even Though It Shouldn’t)


The folks at Capcom must be furious at the people at Steam because those guys took away all the heat from what was supposed to be their huge announcement at Evo. After months of total radio silence, they were going to reveal Street Fighter V was getting 3 new characters. Actually, it’s more like 1 new character in Lucia from another Capcom game. The other two are returning from earlier Street Fighter games. E. Honda, the last remaining character from Street Fighter II finally made his debut in Street Fighter V and Poison makes her glamorous return sans Hugo.

I have tried out all 3 newcomers and I do plan of giving my personal opinions on Lucia, E. Honda and Poison in the future. I do want to talk about how they play and where I feel they fall into my personal tier list but now is not the time. This time, I want to discuss one of the franchise’s more confusing characters, Poison. Not because the character is a former Mad Gear member and how Poison usually carries a weapon into the tournament. The reason why fans are confused about Poison is because there is a lot of discussion whether or not the character is male or female.

It may be an odd thing to debate about if you’re an outsider of the Street Fighter or video game world looking in. If you look at Poison and all her previous appearances, you’ll immediately come to the conclusion that she’s female. Poison has breasts, a trim waist and slender, long legs. True markings of video game female character, right? Honestly, the answer is not so clear cut. In fact, the debate regarding Poison’s gender has been raging on ever since her first appearance in the first Final Fight game.

It certainly doesn’t help matters that Capcom has been rather clever by never addressing the issue directly. Actually, they did address this before as early bios for the character have stated that Poison is transgender and likes dressing up in female clothing. However, more recent Capcom employees have given their opinion on the matter but they have sometimes conflicted with one another. Or they can just make really crazy statements like her being a post-op transsexual in Western markets but not in Japan. This is actually a quote from Yoshinori Ono, the creative director of Street Fighter IV!

There are some fans that do like that Poison is one of the rare video game characters that belong in the LGBTQ community while others have looked at her with disdain for this. I generally fall in the former group. I do like that, even though it was probably meant to be an “insult” at first, times have changed and I guess Capcom realized having a transsexual character in one of their video games became a sign of progressiveness.

Even with that, there are still going to be fans that will ask the perfectly valid question, “Does it even matter if Poison is male or female?” It really shouldn’t if you think about it.

Let’s say she isn’t LGBTQ and she’s a true blue female. Nothing about her controller her would change one bit. She’d be a tough female who likes to beat people with a weapon. In her Street Fighter V incarnation, Poison would still be the former Mad Gear member who’s looking to recruit fighters into her wrestling stable. Even the people that she battles don’t really comment or really care if she’s a female or not because they see Poison as a dangerous fighter that they shouldn’t take lightly.

With that being said, however, I believe that Poison’s gender does matter to a lot of people and I can understand why. It doesn’t matter from a gameplay standpoint if Poison is LGBTQ or not. Like I said, she’d probably still have the whip and her moves would all probably be the same. However, I’m betting her being a he or a she will matter to some people who may want to pick her up as their main.

There is a reason why some fans were elated to see E. Honda become one of the latest returnees in Street Fighter V. They miss mashing the buttons to execute the Hundred Hand Slap or flying through the air via the Sumo Headbutt. But there is already another character that can do these same things: Blanka. Pressing the buttons rapidly has him discharge electricity and he can roll up into a ball to crash into his opponents. So why would they miss E. Honda when they already have a character that can do the same things? It’s because there are people that just like E. Honda. They like that he’s a stout guy who practices sumo.

The same argument can be made with Ryu and Ken way back in Street Fighter II. They both had the exact same moves but there were some people who would prefer Ryu over Ken and vice versa. It all comes to the personality of the character. Contrary to Capcom’s belief, to the fans, characters are not just “functions” in a fighting game. Gamers have become attached to these specific characters and want to use them in future iterations of the game.

A character’s personality and backstory does figure into why a lot of people pick their main. Take me for example. One of the reasons why I mainly have been using Vega/Claw in Street Fighter games is because I really wanted to control a female but characters like Cammy and Chun-Li were too difficult for me to control. So I chose the person with a claw and a mask because I thought Vega was a muscular girl. Of course, I eventually realized my mistake but I got to like the personality of the narcissistic ninja bullfighter and I just kept on using him.

I have guess that there is going to be some people who were drawn to Poison, not because she does have a smoking hot design, but because she is transgender. Of course, the opposite can be said and some were irked at the proposition of playing as some “monstrous he-she” or something along those lines. I may not agree with the latter’s form of thinking but you know there are some people that went with that kind of reasoning as to why they don’t want to touch Poison. However, I do understand to an extent as it a personal choice.

I am glad that Capcom decided to bring back Poison as I like the character’s design and attitude. I also do like that she’s transgender and someone from the LGBTQ community can identify with. She has also become something of an icon in video games thanks to all this gender confusion. Ultimately, it shouldn’t matter if Poison is male, female, gay, transgender or queer if you boil it down to just a purely gameplay perspective. It still will matter to people, which is why so many fans are glad to see Poison return.


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


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