Celeste's creator reveals the protagonist is canonically trans

In a retrospective on Celeste, Maddy Thorson revealed that the game's protagonist Madeline is trans, and was a huge part of their own complicated journey in gender identity.


Ever since the launch of the Chapter 9: Farewell of Celeste, players have had an inkling that its main character Madeline may, in fact, be considered a trans character. There are a lot of clues in the narrative of the character that paint her as “not out”: insecurity in her body, estrangement, dealing with a “darker self”. However, these have been matters of debate never quite nailed down to a concrete answer… that is, until very recently when Celeste’s creator themselves confirmed that Madeline is indeed trans.

It was in the late hours of November 5, 2020, over on Medium, that Extremely OK Games lead and Celeste Creator Maddy Thorson made the confirmation of Madeline’s trans identity. Maddy clarifies that it didn’t necessarily start out that way. Themselves non-binary, Thorson explained that Madeline was written in a time when they themselves were experiencing their own messy journey of gender identity.

“During Celeste’s development, I did not know that Madeline or myself were trans,” Thorson wrote. “During the Farewell DLC’s development, I began to form a hunch. Post-development, I now know that we both are.”

Celeste's journey has served up plenty of clues reminiscent of the often difficult journey in gender identity for people, and it left a lot of questions unanswered until recently.
Celeste's journey served up plenty of clues reminiscent of the often difficult journey in gender identity, and it left a lot of questions unanswered with an underlying purpose until recently.

In the post, Thorson describes the logic by which this matter became canonical, as well as the reasons why they wouldn’t simply say it outright. Though Madeline is a fictional character, Thorson treated her experience as very real. They didn’t just want to say it outright because they felt it would be “coming out for someone else,” something that would’ve feel wrong at the time.

“We understand that some fans felt hurt by our silence on this after Farewell’s release,” Thorson continued. “And I’m sorry for that. It’s wrapped up in my personal gender identity and it’s messy! I simply didn’t know the words until now.”

Following his apology, later in the article, Thorson follows up with a rather intricate explanation as to why the nature of Madeline’s transness isn’t information anyone is necessarily entitled to know.

And there it is, a very real point for a lot of people coming to terms with their own gender identity. While it may be important to many, there is a major issue with forcing it out in the open or people being entitled to such matters about figures they like. Madeline is most certainly far more than her gender identity as a character. And indeed, most trans people are far more than theirs.

It’s very cool to know after so many questions left up in the air that Madeline is indeed a trans character written thoughtfully from the heart and mind of a trans person, but even if we didn’t know, that would be okay. We’d still love her. And if you haven’t checked out Celeste. its DLC, or our review of the game up to this point, you really should so you can find out why.

Senior News Editor

TJ Denzer is a player and writer with a passion for games that has dominated a lifetime. He found his way to the Shacknews roster in late 2019 and has worked his way to Senior News Editor since. Between news coverage, he also aides notably in livestream projects like the indie game-focused Indie-licious, the Shacknews Stimulus Games, and the Shacknews Dump. You can reach him at tj.denzer@shacknews.com and also find him on Twitter @JohnnyChugs.

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