Mass Effect: Andromeda to Change Portrayal of Transgender Character Hainly Abrams

The studio known for positive LGBT representation has apologized for an insensitive portrayal. 

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Hainly Abrams is a transgender character in Mass Effect: Andromeda, and while BioWare may deserve a pat on the back for an attempt at inclusion, the portrayal has caused more harm than good. BioWare has heard the blowback and is moving to fix the situation.

One of the chief complaints in Abrams' portrayal is her freely acknowledging her "dead name" to the Ryder twins. A dead name is the name the individual used to be called before transition, and it is often a sensitive issue as a source of pain and conflict before taking on the new life. In the transgender community, the name is usually only given after a long period of trust has been built up with another individual, something that was not the case in the off-hand comment to Ryder when Abrams mentioned why she left the Milky Way for Andromeda. The disclosure and explanation of why Abrams left proved that BioWare did not fully understand a transgender individual or the issues involved before including Abrams in the game 

In the blog post detailing upcoming changes to the game, BioWare General Manager Aaryn Flynn mentioned changes to Abrams character were coming. And BioWare even went so far as to officially apologize for its insensitivity.

“Hainly Abrams was not included in a caring or thoughtful way," BioWare tweeted. "We apologize to anyone who interacted with or was hurt by this conversation.”

The company said it has worked with the transgender community and that it will make appropriate changes. When the game is patched within the next two months, Hainly will "only reveal certain information to Ryder after they have developed trust, and only if the player chooses to support her.”

The controversy is yet another misstep for BioWare and Mass Effect: Andromeda, which is struggling with image problems already after animation issues and facial glitches marred the game's launch and has already impacted sales as several reatilers have started deep discounts on the game. Even with patches and changes, the game's reputation may not be salvagable

Contributing Editor

From The Chatty

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      April 6, 2017 10:01 AM

      That conversation segment generally felt awkward.

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        April 6, 2017 10:54 AM

        Thats true of the whole game. Can you be more specific?

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          April 6, 2017 11:05 AM

          This character decided to leave their entire galaxy (Milky Way) because they were not accepted as a transgender, they were hoping that Andromeda would have more accepting atmosphere. After about a 30 second conversation with Ryder in ME:A they drop their entire transgender history including their masculine birth name. It's awkward for sure, because it doesn't jive with what the character is saying.

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            April 6, 2017 11:24 AM

            Most bad rpgs the characters tell you way to much personal shit the first time you meet them. Even in some good ones it's always awkward when you talk to a townsperson and after "hi!" They are like "my husband beats me, maybe if you stop him I can help you."

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              April 6, 2017 11:26 AM

              Yeah true lol.

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              April 6, 2017 11:48 AM

              Not just bad - nearly all rpgs, and a lot of movies.

              To the point where people online say "plot hole" if a character doesn't have some silly exposition like that.

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            April 6, 2017 11:38 AM

            jivejibe.
            It doesn't jibe.

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            April 6, 2017 11:48 AM

            Takes "if X is elect I'm moving to Canada" to a whole new level.

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              April 6, 2017 12:36 PM

              we're building camps in the prairies to house trump refugees, true story

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            April 6, 2017 2:27 PM

            It's really disappointing to hear that hundreds of years in the future after we've met mono-sexual races and everything, people still have an issue with someone being transgender. :(

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              April 6, 2017 2:41 PM

              That's one of the reasons it felt awkward. "Really? Not only is it an issue in the Mass Effect universe, but it's such a big issue that someone felt the need to flee the galaxy?"

              It felt like them looking for a way to justify ticking off the "trans character" checkbox.

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                April 6, 2017 2:46 PM

                It's a weird mis-step, though, because they worked so hard to handle it well in the last Dragon Age game, where Krem was a female-to-male transgender character that told a really interesting, personal story, once you got to know him enough. And in Andromeda, they cast a transgender actress to play a different non-transgender character, which would have been enough. If they had that character and didn't comment on them being trans at all, you could have interpreted it as it being such a trivial thing to society in the future that nobody even thinks to mention it.

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                  April 6, 2017 2:53 PM

                  I think your last sentence is exactly the "problem": If it's a trivial thing to society, it's not something that will come up, so there's no way to identify if a character is trans, so it's hard to say "we included a trans character".

                  Krem's story was interesting and relevant precisely because trans individuals were not accepted in his society.

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                    April 6, 2017 3:21 PM

                    Jamie Clayton (Sense 8) played Jien Garson, who as far as I know, was not a transgender character in the game. They could have just left it at that and either let it be that they cast a trans actress to play a non-trans role, which is admirable and underdone, or let it be assumed by some portion of the playerbase that she might be trans, but it's so unimportant in this universe that it wasn't even added as dialogue, which is also good. Either way, they could have done nothing and it would have been more positively received than this.

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                      April 6, 2017 5:41 PM

                      I don't disagree. On the other hand, I could also understand if they were afraid of Internet backlash if they didn't include an explicitly trans character.

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                    April 6, 2017 5:40 PM

                    There are other ways to make it obvious other than using heavy handed dialog that feels unnatural or out of place in the context of the setting of the game.

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                April 6, 2017 5:06 PM

                Not to mention that they're fleeing with the exact same race(s) and culture that hated them to begin with. That would be like a jewish person fleeing to a Nazi moon base hoping they'll be more understanding there.

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                  April 6, 2017 5:46 PM

                  LOL. welp that's our writers for this game! :|

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      April 6, 2017 10:57 AM

      Rather than be ecstatic that a sub-group of a sub-group was represented in a mass market game, they complaint that it wasn't done right. Excellent.

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        April 6, 2017 11:25 AM

        Also maybe in the future people generally don't give a shit and drop that information like astrological sign.

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          April 6, 2017 11:39 AM

          You're gonna have to pry blood type from my cold dead hands.

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        April 6, 2017 12:37 PM

        Why should people complain about blackface? They're finally being represented!

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          April 8, 2017 6:59 AM

          Hey, what Ted Danson did was full of love and respect. That man was a comedic visionary.

          I hear he's writing some of the jokes in Mass Effect: Andromeda 2.

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      April 6, 2017 11:40 AM

      I totally didn't even realize that was what that was all about.

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      April 6, 2017 11:42 AM

      bioware just making sure they tick off those check boxes

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      April 6, 2017 11:42 AM

      It's Adam and Eve, not Adam and Shepard

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      April 6, 2017 12:04 PM

      Hainly... I'd trans? o_o

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      April 6, 2017 12:30 PM

      Blizzard to counter by announcing McCree is a robosexual in a love/hate relationship with Bastion.

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      April 6, 2017 1:36 PM

      In addition to giving her "dead" name, she now shows you a before and after picture of her junk while your character nods appreciatively.

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        April 6, 2017 1:39 PM

        They should give you some kind of vision so you can inspect people's genitalia without then knowing.

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          April 6, 2017 2:15 PM

          People try to cover up when they see the Pathfinder coming, but thanks to my omnitool scan upgrade it's too late. I've seen everything.

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        April 6, 2017 1:45 PM

        They have the technology to remake a new Shepard from ashes. I'm sure they can swap in/out vaginas and cocks no problem.

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          April 6, 2017 2:27 PM

          One would think that, but nope. The funding for that tech was never approved through congress.

          In fact, the "remake Shepard" tech doesn't include genitals. After resurrection Shepard was a Ken/Barbie doll down there.

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        April 6, 2017 6:00 PM

        Already gave you the lol button but this deserves a HAHAHHAHAHAAHAHAHAH too. Well done sir.

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      April 6, 2017 1:41 PM

      Patch day. faces look a little better i guess but it broke fullscreen :(
      oh and it gave me 150 item limit

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        April 6, 2017 2:07 PM

        150 item limit, up from 40

        Game performance looked the same to me, struggling to keep 60fps on my potato 970

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        April 6, 2017 3:22 PM

        killed my keybinds? wtf

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        April 6, 2017 5:57 PM

        This patch fucked all kinds of shit up for me graphically, although it has a ton of usability enhancements I've seen so far, controlling dialog with keyboard keys, etc.