CD Projekt Red and Cyberpunk 2077 appear to have a transphobia problem

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/12/12/are-profits-helping-to-hide-the-fact-that-cd-projekt-and-cyberpunk-2077-have-a-transphobia-problem.html

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Just do what everyone’s been doing since 1989 and play Shadowrun instead of Cyberpunk.

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This “link” is quite messed up:

<p>And from <a href="http://The feature also tacitly validates " clocking" trans people by surveilling their voices or external characteristics, which often precedes acts of violence against the community. That aspect of Cyberpunk 2077 is particularly troubling in a year during which 40 transgender people have been killed in an ongoing homicide epidemic. But that's not where the game's controversial choices end. In Night City, some femme-presenting characters appear with transparent penises that are enlarged beyond conventional proportions, leading to criticisms that the game fetishizes and objectifies trans bodies. The situation is aggravated by there being no apparent LGBTQ+ visibility elsewhere in Cyberpunk 2077, even despite a recent push for greater trans and nonbinary representation in mainstream gaming.">Them</a>
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@orenwolf Show Full Post… button doesn’t work either

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Fixed! Sorry about that.

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Based on those reactions, I doubt that any other developer will be including any trans content in their games for a while.

Rome wasn’t built in a day.

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I wonder whether trans activists would prefer for media producers to try and fail at least partly to include their demographic,or just not bother at all.

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I would prefer they try, and succeed. This ain’t rocket science. All they have to do is talk to some actual trans people. We do exist. Or hell, here’s a crazy idea. HIRE SOME!

ETA: The more I think about it, the more angry I get about your comment and the one you were replying to. Seriously, this isn’t hard. Trans people are, first and foremost, people. Just treat us like people. Make a character trans but don’t make it the central feature of that character’s story. And don’t sexually objectify us. Being trans isn’t a sex thing. It’s a gender thing. None of this is at all difficult to understand or get right.

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well, you know, funny thing is… everybody is sexualized in this game. selling the game is whats important. everybody gets exploited. capitalism. I am tired.

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I understand your anger and frustration, and I think achieving sustainable change in matters like that is hard and cannot be forced, so ti should be possible to question whether or not a certain approach will bring about the desired outcome, right?

I am not trying to make any excuses for CDPR here, they could and should have handled this a lot better.

However, at least from my personal experience, for many people it is actually difficult to understand, often they come from a background where sexism is the norm, and both conservatism and religion have a huge influence on the culture that surrounds them, therefore people have question some of their core assumptions, go against the mainstream, and have to make an effort to even discover information about trans people. Poland is especially bad, at least my friends who live there tell me as much.

That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t hold them responsible for what they say and do, but denying that it is difficult to understand will be counter-productive.

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Trying and failing still calls for criticism, that’s how improvements are made. If you don’t call out the failure, nobody is gonna realize it’s a failure in the first place.

And that’s generally how this is going. Most of the coverage I’ve seen on this includes acknowledgement of the effort and detailed breakdowns of where and how it doesn’t work or comes off as Transphobic.

It’s muddied by the company’s past public statements, and a lack of clarity on a lot of the material that makes it difficult to tell if the intent is positive or mocking. So maybe it’s a failure, maybe it’s deliberate. Or what I think would be a bit worse, maybe it’s deliberately meant to be read both ways.

A lot of the video game industry is desperately afraid to put off the chuds. They’re a reliable, repeat sale. Though they’re a small part of the scene they’re among the most vocal, and when they’re displeased they’ll harass your staff until they quit.

ETA: I should probably add that in terms of deliberately meant to be read both ways. Some companies in the industry are run by chuds, and go that route to avoid getting caught.

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I agree with every criticism, but I think it’s counterproductive to distill the meaning of “transphobic” when it’s probably more accurate to say “trans-clueless” or “trans-clumsy”.

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That’s veering a little into All Lives Matter territory, though. This botch is only a story because the of the unique, real-world vulnerability, underrepresentation and stereotyping/hypersexualization of trans people in particular.

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Transphobia, like all bigotry, includes the systemic; it encompasses a helluva lot more than individual prejudice.

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Don’t forget they’ve also snuck in some right-wing dogwhistles:

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Calling any time that trans issues are vaguely in the room and not everyone responds in exactly the right way “transphobia” is deeply unproductive. Having a 100% wild and unconstrained character creator that lets you swap out any body part you want (including genitals), and picking how other characters are going gender the player based on their voice is not “transphobia”. That is not an expression of fear or anger at trans people; that’s just a programming decision, likely built around dealing with the audio for pronouns, that no reasonable person who isn’t steeped in trans issues would expect to provoke anger. It’s a shitty and wildly unproductive thing to come angry at people accusing them of bigotry because they don’t understand the incomprehensible social rules you want them to follow.

It’s fine to talk about the ways we can do better. It’s fine to talk about stuff what people would prefer. Calling everyone who doesn’t immediately snap to attention in exactly the way you want “-phobic” (regardless of the topic) is a great way to anger and upset people into doing exactly the opposite of what you want. Cyberpunk doesn’t have a “transphobia problem”. It isn’t an exercise of shitting on trans folks or taking special malicious glee in hurting them. It has a representations of trans folks that some trans folks dislike, none of which appear to come from actual malice. I have a feeling that number of actual trans folks who were turning incandescent with rage over the offensiveness of voice option picking your pronouns to be vanishingly small.

I think it is disappointing how awful we are getting at persuading and talking to each other. Flying angrily at each other for failing to follow literally unspoken rules, and declaring each minor rule violation an act of bigotry isn’t how you win people and convert them to your cause. It isn’t productive to angrily attack people when they are trying. This sort anger only works on people that already agree with you, and it makes everyone else think you are nuts and shades their entire perception towards your cause more negative.

There is definitely room for a nice long form article exploring how trans issues are dealt with in Cyberpunk 2077, or any RPG for that matter. It’s great to point out where things could be better, and it’s fun to have discussions about whether or not something is a “good” depiction. I think it is an interesting, open, and unsettled question about whether or not the hyper sexualized trans advertisements that are sitting next to hyper sexualized cis advertisements are somehow off limits, but angrily denunciations of anyone who thinks that sexualized trans bodies next to sexualized cis bodies as “transphobic” is a pretty good way to murder that conversation in its cradle. Who wants to have a discussion with someone who immediately declares that any disagreement with them can only be coming one from bigotry and hate, especially when it isn’t?

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That ad looks exactly like it was stolen directly from a porn site that objectifies trans women’s bodies. You could probably find it’s ilk on Alex Jones’s computer.

It was clearly intentional. And consciously used to drum up “controversy” to sell product.

Edit:

Here’s a quick question to ask when wondering about representation in commercial products. Were the people being depicted part of the aesthetic choices and are they profiting from them? This is merely male gaze 1010012 billionth iteration.

Are any of the owners taking trans women as dates to the company Christmas party to meet their mothers?

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Oy gevalt!

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Socialist comrade Vaush (and LGBQT+ 100% positive) is far more nuanced in is analysis (sexual commoditization vs perceived transphobia) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_0i-JCsVcE8

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As a somewhat Cis male, sympathetic to the trans cause, but not constantly focussing on it, I agree.
I think it does not come from a phobic world view.
They did however create a dystopian materialistic world (a.k.a. cyberpunk) where everything is for sale and nothing is sacred, the whole body swap and replacement (including apparently genitalia), the question of self (ghost in the shell etc) comes more from the genre than from catering to the LGBTQ community.

I get the frustration of being misrepresented yet again, but maybe the hopes of finding good representation in an ultra-violent sci-fi shooting game was too much to hope for to begin with.

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