The Last of Us: Part II Fans Aren't Happy About the Game's Trans Storyline
Fans Aren't Happy About 'The Last of Us: Part II's Trans Storyline
Some critics are even calling it "trauma porn."
Ever since the initial release of Sony and Naughty Dog's queer-inclusive The Last of Us made a splash in the gaming world back in 2013, fans have been eagerly awaiting a full follow-up for the post-apocalyptic survival game. While the sequel, The Last of Us: Part 2, just came out earlier this month and has been critically-acclaimed so far, there is one thing many LGBTQ+ gamers don't appreciate about the new PlayStation title: the trauma and violence experienced by one of the game's transgender characters.
Warning! Some The Last of Us: Part II spoilers ahead!
In the popular PS4 game, a new trans character named Lev (voiced by out, trans actor by Ian Alexander) is introduced to main characters Joel and Ellie's post-apocalyptic world. Though he's not a playable character, players do see that Lev (a teen boy who escaped a religious cult after being threatened to death by his family) is the subject of an overwhelming amount of physical and emotional violence and is deadnamed multiple times throughout the game. Gamers are pointing out that this might be a classic case of "trauma porn," since Lev's character only seems to exist to show misfortune and grief to players.
Naturally, players took to Twitter to air out their rightful concerns and frustrations about the way the game handled a trans character:
\u201cI\u2019m fuckin disgusted at whomever/what team pushed for Lev\u2019s story in The Last Of Us 2. I\u2019m transmasc and this feels like a spit in the face. What\u2019s the point of pushing violence upon us when we are already traumatized and in danger.\u201d— \u267f\ufe0f\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0ffursonyacon22(?) (@\u267f\ufe0f\ud83c\udff3\ufe0f\u200d\u26a7\ufe0ffursonyacon22(?)) 1592539198
\u201cI'm not going to pay $60 for a game that mistreats, deadnames, and abuses trans characters. It doesn't matter how "dark"/"grim" a setting is, that's unnecessary. Developers need to understand what kind of player will feel good about that kind of violence directed at trans people.\u201d— Kazuma Hashimoto (@Kazuma Hashimoto) 1592504072
\u201cSo... The Last of Us 2 has a trans character, and just torments the shit out of him throughout the entire game.\u201d— Ariel (@Ariel) 1592513612
\u201cI've had some time to think about The Last of Us part 2 and it's transgender character, Lev. And honestly, while the portrayal might not have been done with the intent to offend, it's still pretty awful.\u201d— Sophia, the Lady of Blades (@Sophia, the Lady of Blades) 1592669093
\u201c... but it doesn't change the fact that his character arc is focused around violence BECAUSE he's trans. I understand what the writers were going for; they wanted to show the realism of what transgender folks face, especially in the cynical setting of The Last of Us.\u201d— Sophia, the Lady of Blades (@Sophia, the Lady of Blades) 1592669093
\u201cThere are ways to capture that reality in fiction, but I don't think The Last of Us 2 manages it. It just falls short and seems demeaning as a result.\u201d— Sophia, the Lady of Blades (@Sophia, the Lady of Blades) 1592669093
While it is a very sad, unfortunate reality that many trans people experience a lot of hardships in real life, it sucks that such a highly-anticipated and queer-inclusive franchise like The Last of Us, wasn't able to move past Lev's trauma when creating his storyline and focused solely on that. Maybe one day, a game will be able to include a trans character that is more than just the trauma they've overcome.