July 18th, 2007

Birdo has always struck me as, well, a weird character. I know her best through the Mario Kart series, and I’ve got to admit, there’s something about her gaping pink maw that makes me pick the female mushroom every time. It was only recently I heard about her interesting gender history. The way I was told it, in the Japanese release of the Mario games, Birdo was described almost as a transvestite. Okie-doke. I hadn’t thought much about it; I guess her make-up is pretty camp.

But it appears the story is more complicated than that. Seems certain LGBT-friendly gamers have been claiming Birdo as something of a transgender hero–the first real trans character in video games–since she went from gender swapping to just plain being (the newest Mario material refers to her as “she”). Others claim that the ambiguity only comes up in American copy; in Japan, she’s always been female. Clearly the time is ripe for nit-picking fanboys to jump in with super specific info. Until then, I’m just fascinated/horrified by that mouth…

Update: Heroine Sheik reader Andy Grass was kind enough to send in the above shot from the Mario 2 instruction booklet, which explains “he (i.e. Birdo) thinks he is a girl and he spits eggs from his mouth.” Of course, that’s only the American take, and then specifically the Mario 2 take. Still, there’s something undeniably put-on about spitting eggs from a giant hole of an orifice. I mean, come on, even “real” women don’t get that literal.

Tags: Eastern vs. Western, gender, sex/gender imagery, Thanks reader!, up for debate

26 Responses to “Transgender? The Birdo Debate”

  1. Adam Says:

    Totally true, I remember Birdo from Mario Brothers 2 on the NES. It was pink, I’d just assumed it was female. The problem is, that mouth was consistently trying to kill me with eggs, so it didn’t really matter about what gender it was.

    If one of them hatched open into Luigi-looking half-breeds, well, then we’d know.

    I think the ambiguity runs wild already in Nintendo games. Zelda in Ocarina of Time? Definitely ambiguous. Toad? Possibly the cutest thing ever, and his female counterpart counts as double.

    I’m not worried about it until they’re hocking eggs at me and screeching inconsolably.

  2. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    Ok, I know this is totally un-Bonnie-like, but I never really thought about the giant whole marking him as “female.” Also, shooting eggs? Totally another “female” trait. I’m sensing some deep sex/gender confusion here :).

  3. Josh Says:

    In Japan, Birdo hasn’t EVER been a Female. Catherine was always a Male who wanted to be a Female.

  4. jess Says:

    Well my friend Emma and I have been talking about this and it appears that in one version Birdo is in fact male, his name is Astro or something, but he is gender confused so he wears a bow, transfestites took offense to this and lawsuited. Birdo was made into a girl, at least for the games in the northern america. Thats all I know, and yes I have way too much time on my hands to be worrying about a retarded dinosaur who shoots eggs out of her vagina. But the vagina does look like a penis, doesnt it?

  5. Bonnie Ruberg Says:

    It’s true, Birdo does have an interesting penis/vagina thing going on. I suppose if we ever need to know how to combine those two organs… That snout is also a bit like a Flesh Light :).

  6. Jade Reporting » July 21 Says:

    […] Transgender? The Birdo Debate […]

  7. Dante Raccoon Says:

    The debate rages. Transexual male, transgendered male, female…there are even suggestions of dual sexuality, hermaphroditism, and things I don’t really want to think about.
    One can certainly make this point:
    Biology.
    There isn’t a male of any known reptile or bird species that lays eggs. This is an exclusively female trait. I doubt we’ll see anything of the sort as we uncover more about dinosaurs.
    Please do not mention Jurassic Park. Birdo is not a frog or a genetically-engineered freak.
    Given that this is a fantasy creature, however, he or she (or whatever) need not necessarily follow the rules of RL biology.
    Also, I’d like to point out that it’s been shown in recent games that there are a number of birdos of various colors. This indicates that there’s an entire race of them, of which the one in Super Mario Bros. II is but one of. The more recent appearances of the “Birdo” character could well be a female of the same species.
    Let the debate rage on. It makes Catherine/Birdo a more popular character, and I like the cute, silly little thing.

  8. WaDK Says:

    SHE LAYS EGGS THAT PROVES SHES FEMALE

  9. Birdo Herself Says:

    I am a GIRL just look at the Mario kart double dash Booklet it says so.

  10. Yoshi himself Says:

    I have Known Birdo a Long Time I Positive Shes A Girl

  11. Nintendo of America Says:

    We Have Proof That shes female Look At The Mario tennis Booklet.

  12. Wario Says:

    BUTT SMASH

  13. Capt Ranbow Says:

    I found FROOF Birdos a female under her pillow.

  14. Petey Piranha Says:

    This is a Super Mario wiki What Says-In the American versions of games Birdo is portrayed as a female. that PROVES that in America at least Birdo is a GIRL

  15. Sonic the Hedgehog Says:

    Look I know Birdo is Male in Japan BUT SHE IS FEMALE IN AMERICA Super Mario Wiki Says so.

  16. Ryan Cooper Says:

    Hey Sonic I Agree with You on the Birdo is Female in America Part 100%. But Now Even Japan is Changed Birdo to Female in the game Captain Rainbow You Fine Froof Birdo is A Girl.

  17. Ryan Cooper Says:

    Hey Sonic I Agree with You on the Birdo is Female in America Part 100%. But Now Even Japan is Changed Birdo to Female in the game Captain Rainbow Ware You Fine Froof Birdo is A Girl.

  18. Ryan Cooper Says:

    Sorry For Saying This 2 Times I Made A Mistake.

  19. Jerry Seinfeld Says:

    Look Just say Birdo is Male in Japan Transgender in Europe and Female in America.

  20. Kurt Wylde Says:

    I Don’t know About Europe and Japan I do know Shes Always been Female in America

  21. King Boo Says:

    I Know 1 Thing for sure in America Birdo is a Girl. in all games it says so. Mario tennis Said so. Mario Kart double dash said so. Mario smash football said so. Mario Superstar Baseball said so. Need I Say More

  22. Solid Snake Says:

    Birdo Must be Female she lays eggs she wares a bow she has a huge ring she must be Female

  23. Pee-Wee Herman Says:

    She was Always a Girl Nintendo Officially said that Birdo being Male in Super Mario Bros. 2 was a mistake and that was only in japan in America Birdo has never been Male she was always Female.

  24. Cupcake Says:

    She’s biologically male.
    http://themushroomkingdom.net/birdo.shtml

    She needs to appear in more main games.

  25. Charles Sands Says:

    I vote for pre op transexual.

  26. madstoner Says:

    wow, uhmm, lets play name that drug! lol I always figured female, but maybe the whole transgender thing is possible… i mean, it IS possible.

    here is the proof!

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