Fallout new vegas memes from the transgender community.

How 'Fallout: New Vegas' Became One Of The Trans Community's Favorite Video Games

In October 2010, Fallout: New Vegas, the much-anticipated follow-up to Fallout 3, was released across consoles. The game was met with mixed reception upon release, mostly because of bugs and glitches, but has since become one of the most celebrated entries in the series. From the sand-swept setting to the surprisingly deep story and of course, the classic Fallout gameplay, New Vegas has everything a typical Fallout fan could want. Apparently, it also has everything that the average trans gamer wants too.

Many trans gamers love Fallout: New Vegas. Blanket statements like that aren't often warranted, but if you spend any decent amount of time exploring the trans gaming community online, you'll know that this isn't stretching the truth. Whether on Instagram, Facebook or Reddit boards like /r/transgamers and /r/falloutnewvegas, you don't have to search too hard to find memes poking fun at the idea that trans people love the game.

Some of the most common memes make jokes about cis people buying the game in 2010, then re-purchasing it in 2021 after transitioning. A meme from the Facebook page Transgender Dysphoria Shitposting offers up a "trans woman starter pack" with every single image labeled "playing Fallout New Vegas." Another, posted that same year to 8-Bit Communism, shows a trans cat girl character captioned, "yeah i play Fallout: New Vegas, how'd you know?" implying that if you're trans, you like Fallout: New Vegas.

The Trans Woman Starter Pack Playing Fallout New Vegas Playing Fallout New Vegas Playing Fallout New Vegas Playing Fallout New Vegas Playing Fallout New Vegas Playing Fallout New Vegas KAPWING imgflip.com

To understand why trans people love New Vegas so much, we have to go back to May 2010, five months before the game's release. That month, Rho, a writer for Border House blogs, a now-defunct blog described as "a blog for those who are feminist, queer, disabled, people of color, transgender, poor, gay, lesbian, and others who belong to marginalized groups, as well as allies," published a piece titled "Fallout: New Vegas Set to Feature Transphobia?" (archived) where they largely denounce New Vegas for featuring transphobia. Their reason? The inclusion of a character named Tabitha, a super mutant who wears a blonde women's wig and heart-shaped sunglasses but talks in a gruff, masculine voice.


The Border House piece is inspired by a quote from GameDaily, which claimed that Tabitha was "a crazy super mutant" and "essentially a dude in drag," ending with, "in case you ever wondered what a mutant would look like in a blonde wig and lipstick, it isn’t pretty." The writer takes this quote and the appearance of Tabitha and lists a number of potentially transphobic things about the mutant. They write how Tabitha's appearance is "jarring," writing, "Essentially, they’ve made this character be transgender for shock value." She concludes about Tabitha:

Making the transgender character be a super mutant is not at all subtle. It paints an image of transwomen as brutish, ugly freaks who you can spot a mile off. You can put a pig in lipstick, but it’s still a a pig. Or a super mutant. Or a man. Then, just for good measure, because apparently they weren’t insulting enough already, the character is a crazed villain. Who you get to kill. Fantastic. So to summarise, it seems like Obsidian have put a transgender character into their game to shock and/or amuse people at how brutish, ugly and unconvincing she is, and then allow the player the triumph of shooting her.

The writer ultimately sent an email to Obsidian and Bethesda, the developers of the game, stressing their concerns about the character. A representative for the company responded by giving some insight into super mutant lore, writing how humans lose all their gender markers when becoming super mutants, essentially making them all "monogender," in the representative's words:

“Female humans who undergo transformation into Super Mutants effectively lose any externally apparent biological sex characteristics associated with being female. I.e. they are indistinguishable from male humans who have undergone the same transformation. Arguably all Super Mutants are monogender even if they retain some vestigial biological sex characteristics since said characteristics no longer have any social or biological meaning in Super Mutant society -- and because most of them lose all memory of their former lives. Tabitha wears a wig and glasses not because she is transgender, but because she has psychological identity problems that are rooted in her extensive use of Stealth Boys – a drug used in the universe of Fallout.”

The reply didn't satisfy the writer, who says that it just "makes her feel worse," writing, "All it seems to be is an attempt to explain why this thing that offended me isn’t offensive at all, actually." The writer concludes that they will not be buying New Vegas.

wow cool fallout Fallsut NEW VEGAS wait am i a girl MATURE 1 M Bethesda ESHB

The article quickly spread around the Fallout community and inspired a lot of discourse, many finding the writer's opinion unfair and reaching. The article was reposted to /r/feminisms on May 22nd, 2010, where the top commenter reiterates that Super Mutants are genderless, also writing, "If trans people want to be accepted into our society, they should accept that they are not always going to be portrayed as good guys." A discussion also sparked on the Fallout forum No Mutants Allowed where one user suggests "It's like people are looking for stuff to get offended at," the majority seeming to think the writer's opinion is reaching at best.

These are the same kinds of arguments you can find all over the internet today, and while they may seem like negative, inflammatory things at first, this likely marks the first (or at least loudest) time the trans debate entered the Fallout community. What's more, the response against the article was rooted in a pro-trans stance claiming the game is not transphobic, or at least shouldn't be assumed to be transphobic just because of one character. The writer, of course, is entitled to their feelings and it's worth remembering that trans people dealt with a lot of hate on the web in the early 2000s, likely putting the writer on the defense straight from the get-go. Their assumption that the character is transphobic isn't farfetched, however, it is exactly that — an assumption. And assumptions are dangerous things to make on the web.

@boxxuu playign fallout new vegas You have become addicted to estrogen.

The arguments against the writer may not all have been right or appropriate. Some are rooted in transphobia and anti-cancel culture sentiments, painting the writer as an angry SJW eager to destroy anything offensive in their path, a portrayal that waters the whole discussion down to a harmful degree.

Regardless of the individual responses, though, this event introduced the debate to a subsection of gamers who otherwise wouldn't care about it at a time when debates about trans people were just heating up online. That's not an altogether bad thing regardless of the circumstances surrounding it, which will hopefully become more apparent as we further discuss the outcome.

This revolt against the Border House article, whether the response was right or not, acted as a launching point for further trans discourse regarding Fallout: New Vegas and the series in general. It got people thinking about the world of Fallout from a new, gender-focused angle. Then the game came out and the community realized that the worries represented in the Border House piece were just that: worries.

The game actually proved rather inclusive towards the LGBTQ+ community compared to the series' previous entries and other video games at the time in general. In fact, the Border House even published an article (from a different writer) in 2011 celebrating how the game handles sexuality, highlighting the character customization, the inclusion of LGBTQ+ characters and the "Confirmed Bachelor" perk, which essentially allows the player character to be gay or bisexual. New Vegas stood out to trans and LGBTQ+ gamers as a game that actually let them portray themselves and a version of their experiences on-screen when few others filled that niche.

2010: two copies of fallout: new vegastameSton please? GAV 2021: one copy of fallout: new vegas pweease?

From there the game slowly pulled in more and more trans gamers who fell in love with both the inclusivity and representation in the game, not to mention the gameplay. A July 2012 post to /r/transgamers asking what everyone bought during the Steam Summer Sale resulted in at least four responses of New Vegas.

A 2014 post to the board asks for advice on starting a trans playthrough of the game. Throughout the 2010s the trans discourse surrounding New Vegas spread web-wide and started to inspire memes, fan art and everything beyond on sites including Twitter, Tumblr and Reddit. This was likely helped along by the increasing acceptance of trans people throughout the same period of time as people became more sensitive to social LGBTQ+ issues.

By 2018 trans New Vegas memes started gaining more significant attention beyond the niche trans gaming community to the online trans and LGBTQ+ communities at large. For example, in July 2018 a user of /r/traaaaaaannnnnnnnnns, a subreddit for trans people as a whole, not just gamers, shared a tweet joking about how taking estrogen leads people to New Vegas, gaining over 3,900 upvotes and 168 comments. A good portion of the community understood the joke with only limited context, and that context would continue to diminish in future memes about the trans community's love of New Vegas as the love of the game by trans people went from an insider secret to public meme fodder, becoming so obvious and upfront that it allowed for more and more ironic memes joking about just how bizarre the phenomenon is from the outside looking in.

Malaru @themalaru RE NECE Kids are calling it estrogen One month you're a slightly depressed teenage boy and the next you're wearing cat ears and sitting in a discord with 13 other trans women arguing about fallout new Vegas 1:23 nachm. · 24. März 2018

A 2021 comment from trans gamer FlamingPhoenix24 in response to a /r/transgamers post asking why trans people love the game so much sums up the love for the game in a succinct paragraph. The user goes beyond the game's customization, suggesting the plot's inclusion of fighting against "regressive fascists" also clicks with the trans experience, along with shoutouts to the LGBTQ+ characters in the game and how their sexuality is portrayed as completely normal rather than used as a plot device. The full response reads:

Fallout New Vegas is the perfect virtual outlet for the accumulated trauma of modern trans experience. (Speaking from a transfeminine perspective but I’d imagine much of this applies to other trans people as well) You can make a character, (including gender) fight against regressive facists,(sic) (Caesar’s legion) and meet plenty of other LGBT people along the way that are actually well rounded characters! Most of the LGBT people in this game, you wouldn’t even know they were LGBT unless you took the time to talk to them and get to know them. Your character can be canonically gay or bi with the use of certain perks too! Most importantly, the world and its major factions are ambivalent enough to be believable. Of course we hate the legion! They would kill us given the chance, but NCR isn’t perfect either… They exploit their workers, they’re xenophobic and imperialistic. House is a dictator just like Caesar, right? Well… maybe you hate autocracy, but House seems benevolent and has the best interest of humanity in mind. You could ultimately side with yourself and play God with the wasteland. Why not? Even in this virtual world where we are allowed to be ourselves, for many of us much more than in the everyday world, we can also be Gods! People listen to us, our actions have meaning and consequences that feel plausible. That’s why I think trans people in particular love this game. Honestly it is a work of art that all should appreciate, but trans people through our heightened need for self integration just to justify and understand our existence, develop a greater appreciation of art. That is why trans people love New Vegas. 🙂

These days, the Fallout series as a whole receives almost universal praise for its inclusivity and representation towards the LGBTQ+ community. Over a decade later New Vegas stands as one of the most important games for trans gamers and that's represented in the piles of memes referencing it that are still being created referencing the two in tandem.

What started as an attempt by a member of the LGBTQ+ community to effectively cancel the game for said community before it was even released arguably helped inspire exactly the opposite response, bringing to mind an old yet always relevant cliche about not judging a book by its cover, or in this case, a Super Mutant by its wig and sunglasses.


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