In honor of Pride Month, I wanted to go into the history of a famous LGBTQIA+ character in video games, and being App Trigger’s overzealous Nintendo fan, I wanted to go with a fascinating character with an equally fascinating journey: Birdo.
See, the year was 1988 and 8-year-old me was sitting on the floor, playing Super Mario Bros. 2 on a wood-grained CRT television on a wood-paneled container — because the 80s were BROWN, my dudes. Don’t let the media fool you, the ’80s were brown and filled with cigarette smoke.
I had gotten to the first mini-boss, a weird pink dinosaur that was holding an orb and spitting eggs at me. What was this creature? I dug out the manual and… there she was.
So first off, we learn two things right now. Birdo is trans, and calling her Birdo is actually dead naming here, so for the rest of this article, as I just realized this upon writing, we’re going to stick with Birdetta.
Birdetta is often considered the first trans character in gaming. That’s heavily debatable but she absolutely was one of the most well-known, especially with her appearing in a Mario game. She had a really fun attack pattern that actually changed as Super Mario Bros. 2 went on. She had really weird noises, and she had a great design that inspired the way Yoshi ended up looking.
Later in her history, Nintendo, kind of dropping the ball, decided to try and recon her. They stated that she was born female. But luckily the internet doesn’t forget and neither do other game makers.
References to Birdetta being trans were nodded at all throughout several Nintendo games.
The remarkably weird and over-the-top, but sadly forgotten Nintendo game Captain Rainbow has an interesting Birdetta moment. See, this weirdly vulgar and overly sexually themed world is filled with lesser-known Nintendo characters and none have a more interesting storyline than Birdetta here. See, you find her in a cage.
She explains that she went to the island because she believed she could make her dreams come true there, but instead she was locked up because they felt she was using the wrong bathroom. It’s a weird question that involves you having to track down her vibrator to use as some sort of evidence, and if you think finding a vibrator in someone’s bedroom is weird for a Nintendo game, you’ve clearly not played Super Mario RPG.
Birdetta being trans was also hinted at in more mainstream titles such as the incredible Mario & Luigi’s Superstar Saga game. When one of the main characters fights you, he brings out his newest assistant and says this:
That’s right, this, uh…dame, got hinted at here.
Now, over the years, Nintendo changed things up and just started retconning out the trans part of her history by claiming she was born female and stayed female — but we all know better.
As we called out Nintendo on this, it got to the point that despite being a fan favorite and highly recognizable character, she’s been removed from many of the more recent games. The Mario Golf: Super Rush game for the Switch removed her from the roster despite other characters from Super Mario 2, like Ninji and Shyguy, being included. She was removed from Mario Strikers for the Switch despite being a mainstay in the Mario Sports titles. She was even removed from Super Mario Maker 2 and Super Mario Party for the Switch despite appearing in the earlier versions.
Nintendo could do something here. Just tell who the character is and move on. Oh, and for Lakitu’s sake Nintendo, patch the name to Birdetta.