Should we be talking about The Taken King’s gender?

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Destiny The Taken King Oryx

With a rise in trans awareness, there is increasingly a push towards representation in games. While not all games have the opportunity to include diverse characters along the spectrum of sexuality, an increasing number of games are exploring transgender characters. From Dragon Age to Assassin’s Creed, AAA franchises are becoming more representative and it’s exciting and empowering to see. However, the latest claims about Destiny are a bit more muddled.

Over on Polygon, an opinion piece went up from Laura Dale exploring the idea that the latest Destiny expansion, The Taken King, actually centers around a transgender character.

Oryx is the titular character of Destiny: The Taken King, and he’s a transgender male character. He’s a king of darkness who had the power to bend reality to his very will, had been designated female at birth and transitioned to male during the ritual that granted him these godlike levels of power and strength.

[…] The reason few players were talking about this groundbreaking piece of mainstream video game transgender representation is because it isn’t actually acknowledged within the game itself. This fascinating, and potentially groundbreaking, piece of Destiny lore is hidden away in unlockable text logs that can only be read outside of the game on Bungie’s website.

[…] On the one hand you could argue that Oryx is a transgender man who isn’t defined by his gender transition. The fact he used to use different pronouns and lived under a different name is such a non-issue that it’s never used unnecessarily as a plot point. He’s a strong, powerful character who just happens to be trans, without that in any way coming to define who he is.

[…] On the other hand, the reason that he’s not defined by his gender and that people have not made a big fuss about it is largely because nobody knows it’s in the game. By including this as one footnote in a lengthy set of collectable lore outside of the game itself, they are able to on paper state that they made a huge move for visible, high profile transgender representation, without actually having to face most of the risks associated with doing so.

However, due to the alien nature of Oryx, it could be argued that he isn’t actually a transgender character, but rather engaging in sequential hermaphroditism, a changing of gender during development that is common in many fish and gastropods. So, this might not be a matter of Bungie trying to get all the praise and none of the risk of having a transgender titular character, but rather a questionable use of alien biological processes.

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For me, this raises a larger debate about the nature of Bungie’s story telling. Darryn has raved that The Taken King has way more narrative and compelling gameplay, and the way everyone has been going on about the expansion it seems that Destiny is finally the game it was always meant to be. However, for there to still be such ambiguity in the storytelling, and the fact that something as integral to character development as gender transitions could be hidden from the average player seems rather odd to me. Whether the character is trans or not, it could have been an interesting conversation to have, if only Bungie had actually given us the necessary information to make a discussion possible.

Last Updated: October 6, 2015

Zoe Hawkins

Wielding my lasso of truth, I am the combination of nerd passion and grammar nazi. I delve into all things awesome and geek-tastic. I believe people should stop defining themselves and just enjoy playing games, so let’s get on with it!

    • Professor wood … uh I mean Oak. 😛

    • Hammersteyn

      He should know, he banged Ash’s mom afterall

  • Grand Admiral Chief

    Until it is on PC, this game means nothing to me

    • I hope is does come to PC soon though

    • Alien Emperor Trevor

      Mehstiny. I don’t support money grubbers, and I’ve already got Destiny on PC – it’s called Warframe.

      • Used a speed Nova in ODD last night, it was like a horror movie. Obviously the BP did not drop

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          I wonder how they’re going to bring vaulted prime gear back. I’ll be pissed if it’s locked to a raid.

          • I don’t know, I have never seen anything return from the vault.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Event weapons have, nothing prime though. I’m hoping Latron Wraith comes back sometime, I got that just after I started the game & it carried me for a long time.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Getting that BP is frikken irritating.

            At least I’m doing more damage with Boltor P now 🙂

          • Talking about that, we should probably do some XP runs for primary only and take off all other weapons, so we can Forma faster.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I leveled my Simulor from 0 to 26 in two runs on Sunday.

          • Now we will do 0-30 in 1-2 runs xD using Draco on Ceres with high damage frames.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            You just want Syndicate primaries 😀

          • I am stuck in syndicate again, need nova P helmet and I have done a crap load of T1 surv with no damn drops.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            T4Sab – you still want Loki P too

          • Yup, but Ember P is going in the vault after today and we need the BP for Vamps xD so much stuff to do!

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Yes, ODD tonight. Or why not try a single T4Def?

          • Rocket League match against Lagz “a” team tonight though.

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Fate has conspired against us.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            lol “a” team.

          • Huehuehuehue

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Gonna see if I can get online for longer tonight… been crazy with work and other things lately… everyone knows I’m unavailable from 8:30pm tonight though XD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            GO CHOOB!

          • VampyreSquirrel

            I might have the BP for that helmet. I’ll check and give it to you if you want it.

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Yeah I need to forma Boltor to up my damage even more… was looking at it this morning and decided that it can wait for the time being.

          • I have done my waiting! xD gonna 4 Forma the bloody thing

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Another successful article comment section take over by the warframe crew 😛

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Their games are boring.

      • Hammersteyn

        *Waitframe

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Waited longer for GTAV. 😉

          • Hammersteyn

            lulz

      • Grand Admiral Chief

        So I got my Warframe working last night, it seems it kept my original frame from those year(s) ago I last played. Level 28 Excalibur.

        Will join you guys for a fight sometime

        • Alien Emperor Trevor

          Yay 😀

          Although I must be honest, can’t stand Excalibur now with his Exalted Blade ult. I joined a group with two the other night & it was just: SCHWINGSCHWINGSCHWINGSCHWINGSCHWING I can’t fucking SEE anything because of the stupid energy waves!

          • Yup that noise is unbearable, I usually just go stand very far away.

          • Grand Admiral Chief

            I must say, the game is much smoother than when I last played

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            I’ve experienced the trolling players – switch teleport Loki, ripline Valkyr, banish Limbo – but that never-ending grating sound effect that isn’t even intentional trolling…

          • Vamps now knows what a Troll Nova teleport is xD

          • Alien Emperor Trevor

            Oh I forgot, bounce Vauban. Although I’ll be honest, I did that the other day & was highly amused.

          • Hammersteyn
          • VampyreSquirrel

            Your face is boring!

          • Hammersteyn

            Phew and I thought it was my personality. Of the the butcher I go! Ladies beware

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Lol! Hide your daughters, wives, mothers, sisters…

          • …T-bones, steaks and fillet!

          • oVg

            You need to purchase new face DLC.

          • Vauban systems alert for me then I can use this fun frame at last 😛

          • VampyreSquirrel

            Yeah i do… especially when you’re drunk.

          • At least my aim and timing is not as good then xD

        • We can just take you to go get a new frame if you want, so take your pick from the ones that drop from bosses 😛

          • Grand Admiral Chief

            Kewl. This dude I’ve got now is masehare OP

        • VampyreSquirrel

          Glad to hear it… we can farm you some new weapons and frames and get you totally hooked.

  • Nikola

    Yeah they don’t mention nothing in the story about this hahaha, because you have to go read the shitty grimore on their website…thought they moved past this!

  • Hammersteyn

    King not Queen. Or is there a name for a transgender monarch? Then again why does it matter what sexual orientation said being is that I’m trying to fill full of holes?

    Let’s talk about the new swords in Destiny next and what the phallic implications of some people having an exotic sword with 310 attack against those that still has the limp legendary ones are.

    • Nikola

      Bla bla bla just because some of us are lazy to do PvP also wonder who helped u get your exotic sword hmmm???

      • Hammersteyn

        I’ll return the favour gladly. Ten times over. I’m that nice a guy. Then we can all hold swords together…..wait what?

        • Nikola

          ok so this conversation is getting out of hand I am out….hahahaha!

    • Jonah Cash

      Played with a guy over the weekend who has a 310 sword and he was killing ALL the things!!

      • Hammersteyn

        It’s like being Duncan McCloud. On crack

        • Jonah Cash

          Well that guy was definitely THE ONE… The Psion Flares were taken out in like 1 minute. I was shooting one when he came over and knifed the poor flare, so I wanted to move to the next two when the “credits” started rolling… I was like O-o o-O

          • Hammersteyn

            Three guys with swords on the Psion Flare strike. Shortest boss fight ever.

          • Jonah Cash

            I’ll stick to my 299 Heavy Machine gun thank you!

          • Darren Peach

            I have a 300 heavy machine gun with the fire rate at the Maximum. It melts all before it.

  • Good thing downvotes don’t exist.

    Shouldn’t it have been called “The taken Queen” Then? 😛

  • 40 Insane Frogs

    Dear god… This is why I absolutely despise identity politics, because eventually it becomes this horrible mess, where everyone wants to claim a specific character as their own (insert made-up identity criteria). Link has to be a trans, retro-sexual, furry, because I’m a special snowflake trans-sexual, retro-sexual, furry (who likes to dress up as a dragon, and needs to validate my existence through the existence of a video game character). Mario has to be a 1/16th Black, because I’m special snowflake transracial person of colour (read: confused white progressive), who needs to validate myself … etc. etc. or The Witcher 3 must be racist, because there are so few people with a tan (even though the game is set in a region where people of colour would be an extreme minority), and GOOD GOD I DEMAND REPRESENTATION BECAUSE I’M A TEENAGE EDGELORD SNOWFLAKE blah blah.

    Incidentally, Oryx is an alien. Who knows what his plumbing looks like, but since he refers to himself as a Hive Lord. I’m going to keep on referring to him as a “He” rather than a “Ye” or “Wii” or an xboner or whatever the cool kids on Twitter uses these days.

    Yes, yes… I’ll go check my privilege.. lol!

    • Hammersteyn

      Apparently if aliens are humanoid they are automatically up for gender scrutiny. Now wonder we haven’t made contact yet.

      • 40 Insane Frogs

        That reminds me of this classic scene from Star Trek.

        • Hammersteyn

          lol

    • oVg

      Bwahahaha good read 🙂

  • Sageville

    So let me get this right…

    After reading a few sentences of lore about a completely alien lifeform, who can undergo transformations via worms, you interpret the gramatic usage of pronouns to infer a social identifier which is only qualified by humans, on said alien lifeform?

    I made up a saying long ago for creationists and religious zealots which is apt for this analysis:

    “If you look hard enough for something, you will find it, whether it was actually ever there in the first place or not” – Sageville

  • Darren Peach

    Is this not looking to raise a social debate where none exists. ? I know that the last thing on my mind when I was busy killing the Taken King was his or hers privates. In fact, The concept of transgender representation in a ridiculous over the top space bug never even entered my mind up until this very moment. Is this article not pandering to a social movement that has no relevance in most peoples lives because we simply don’t think about it by default ?

    • Hammersteyn

      That was actually the first thing on my mind. I thought shooting him in the balls might actually do critical damage

      • Sageville

        His 3 balls are located behind his cranial egg sack.

        Just like the rest of us.

        • Hammersteyn

          Must be a swedish design

          • Sageville

            You dare mock Ikea>?

          • Darren Peach

            In other news, Every rare item I find in the game is normally deconstructed for Legendary marks so I can get that gun form the Dead Orbit dude quicker. Unless the drop is Legendary in the true sense.

          • Hammersteyn

            Yeah, infusing weapons is a very nice addition.

          • Darren Peach

            Funny Story, In COD. I got to Master Prestige. Now normally I would have lost interest loong ago. But, Now that COD has uber elite variants of their guns I really wanted the Obsidian Steed. I got all the insane variants. The Speakeasy, The Goliath, All the sick Sniper rifles and shotguns. You name it and I had it. I was in the last Prestige rank until I hit master. My patience was at a end so I redeemed all the weapons I had so I could get there faster. Boom, Master Prestige rank one. I got it. The Obsidian Steed. Wow. I almost cried. Guess what, I sucked with it. I rock the Speakeasy and I lost it. I friggen suck with the Steed. Over 3000 games. 25 000 deaths. Listening to kids talk shit. Waking up with only an hours sleep a night just to hit master prestige. Lesson learned. If you are winning games on regular basis but you yearn for more, You are a greedy fool. I hate the Obsidian Steed.

  • Sageville

    Let’s talk about Oryx’s race while we at it…

    • Jac7

      Hopelik eet hy sy reis met pap en vleis!

  • oVg

    I am amazed. For the first time in gaming we get a transgender character and not a single thing has been said about it. Good for Bungie. But gamers, where are all the White Knights that are blasting characters like Quiet and Yennefer?

    • The thing is though dude, a lot of people don’t go as in depth with the lore outside of the game as others. The only reason this subject even surfaced is because of the lore in the Book of Sorrows states that Aurash, a daughter of a long dead Hive King, eventually developed into Oryx as we know him today. This fact is not present in the base game in any way or form, so the casual player doesn’t see it, therefore, can’t moan about it. Now that this info has hit the mainstream web… watch the trolls come out of their caves….

      • oVg

        true. I bet 90% of the players don’t even know what the lore is. They just want to shoot shit. Hence how long its taken (excuse the pun) for this topic to surface.

        • Exactly! I mean I had a mate run through some of the missions with me and at one point it mentions a character from the lore, a lost/mad guardian named Toland, who just so happens to be my favorite from the lore. Now I know him both from the lore and from the fact that he was the guy who made the exotics Thorn and Bad Juju. My mate had no clue why I lost my shit when Ghost started quoting from Toland’s Journal because he had no clue who the guy was. The story inside the game, even the base game, makes so much sense once you take a read through the grimoire it’s actually scary.

  • This debate has been ongoing on the Destiny reddit ever since the Book of Sorrows lore hit the web. From my point of view, it’s not that Oryx is Transgendered, biologically the hive seem to change sex as they develop into whichever role the Hive needs, such as Wizards, Knights, etc. Their interaction with the Worm Gods that extended their life span may have also made an impact on their evolution/development. From what has been gleaned from the Book of Sorrrows though is Oryx ate/devoured the power of a Worm God and she then metamorphed into his current form, I.E, with wings and Taken powers. Up until that point, Oryx was a she.
    Lore wise, Destiny has really stepped up to the plate with TTK and 2.0 to be honest, and the fact that the BoS is till an ongoing topic of debate is rather impressive.

  • FreddyBear

    If anyone wants to go read the Books of Sorrow entries, it details how Aurash (referred to as the dead king’s daughter) becomes Oryx (after merging with a parasitic worm serving the Darkness). http://planetdestiny.com/taken-king-grimoire/

  • Sageville

    Isn’t it arrogant to assume Oryx’s race has only 2 genders? #Humansplaining

  • VoidWalker

    first off . . . who the hell cares. This is such a non-issue and personally this type of crap is the reason ppl get annoyed at SJW’s. Secondly, as much as I support ppl’s rights to do what they want with their bodies and their desires to be seen as a certain gender, I personally think transgenderism is a mental defect of sorts. It is not even close to as normal or explainable scientifically as homosexuality is.
    Pushing for transgendered ppl in games is akin to pushing for mentally retarded ppl in games or ppl who want to cut their own arms off because “it doesn’t feel right to have them”. I mean, how many ppl are transgendered? Like 1 in 200? So should we also push to represent men who like to rub their penises on squirrel feces too? What about people that like to wear knee pads all the time? Should we represent them in gaming too?
    Also, has the topic even come up that THIS IS AN ALIEN! Not a humanoid. There is no reason to assume this is even an abnormal thing in their species. Are we gunna come out and say frickin frogs are trannies too now?

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