Austen Crowder at The Bilerico Project has chronicled LGBT issues in video games and paid special attention to “Poison”, a transexual character from the fight-’em-up side-scroller Final Fight. She stars in Capcom’s latest fighting game as well, Street Fighter vs. Tekken.
But here’s the thing… in Japan, Poison is a non-op transexual, but in America she is a post-op transexual. Wait… what?
Final Fight, much like Streets of Rage 3, was one among many side-scrolling brawlers made popular in the arcade. The concept is simple: walk from left to right, beating up all the gang members and baddies along the way. One of these baddies, “Poison,” was changed into a transsexual early in the development process. The reason, ironically, was American sensibilities: the character was originally intended to be female, but was changed to a male-to-female transsexual because “hitting women was considered rude” in America. Offensive and base? Yes, but such is history!
Even this wasn’t enough to save Poison. She was originally replaced with generic male flunkies in the US Super Nintendo port of the arcade game.
When Final Fight was ported to the Super Nintendo Entertainment System, an American playtester working for Capcom reviewed the content during the localization process with one of the Japanese designers, and objected to the protagonist hitting females. Akira Yasuda pointed that the “female” enemies were actually transvestites, and despite his objections, Poison and Roxy were replaced with regular male punks named “Billy” and “Sid” in the English localization.
(Again, I unfortunately can’t make videogame history more palatable. Seems that the times said that hitting girls = not okay, unless they’re trans. Then it’s hilarious!)
In time, however, she became a part of the regular Capcom crew. Her operative status changed between Japan and the US. In Japan, Poison is non-op, while in America she is post-op. This was confirmed by Street Fighter IV’s producer Yoshinori Ono, who explained why Poison was not included in the new game:
Let’s set the record straight: In North America, Poison is officially a post-op transsexual. But in Japan, she simply tucks her business away to look female.” He later emphasized it again when asked about what female characters could be included in the game Street Fighter IV, stating that it would be too confusing to include her due to the region-specific gender.
Either way, we hope Poison is a lot more badass as a fighter than the above trailer leads us to believe.