by Joshie Jaxon
Birdo started out as a villain in Super Mario Bros 2. Unlike Wart and Fry Guy, Birdo is a boss that we encounter several times through the game, with various abilities. Mostly an egg spitter, occasionally fireballs are hurled at Mario, Luigi, Toad, and Princess Peach/Toadstool.
Although the events of SMB2 turned out to be nothing more than a dream. Oops, Spoiler Alert on a 27 year old game, my bad. Where was I? Oh yeah, even though it was a dream, the Shy Guys and Birdo made the leap into Mario’s reality. While the Shy Guys appeared as villains in other games, like Yoshi’s Island, Birdo wasn’t cast as a villain again. Instead, Birdo was invited to go karting, play golf, party and even went to the Olympics with Sonic and the main Mario cast.
You may have noticed that I’ve been referring to Birdo by name, but not she or her. That’s because I wanted to touch on the alleged controversy about Birdo. In the original manual for SMB2, we learn that Birdo is male, but thinks he’s a girl. Granted this was 1988, but since then people have been confused about what gender Birdo is.
I don’t understand the confusion. Birdo identifies a a girl. I don’t know what her species is, or what level of gender reassignment is available in the Mushroom Kingdom, but that shouldn’t matter. For all intents and purposes, Birdo is a girl, and should be treated as such. It isn’t our place to push onto her what we feel is right or wrong.
She’s been paired as a couple with Yoshi, and the two have been called boyfriend and girlfriend. That should speak volumes. I’m sure they’ve spoken, and Yoshi knows all about Birdo’s history, and loves her for who she is. Most modern game descriptions refer to her as “she”, but is that a sign of respecting who she is, or are we trying to retcon her status as the premier trans character of gaming? That’s not for me to decide.
In the end, Birdo knows exactly who she is. She was a villain that found an accepting group of friends that love and support her. She is the first transgender woman of gaming, and to me, that’s pretty glorious.