Queer Vox, a non-profit training organization and community for queer voice actors, has called out Arc System Works following the Guilty Gear Strive’s reveal that Bridget is a trans woman for not casting a trans actor to voice the character.
The organization, which offers training to queer voice actors while promoting authenticity in casting, posted a statement to its Twitter account, which has been backed and shared by established industry actors such as Erika Ishii (Valkyrie from Apex Legends) and Casey Mongillo (Shinji from Evangelion), celebrating Bridget finally being acknowledged as a trans woman, but also criticizing Arc System Works and PCB Productions for failing to cast a queer actor for the role.
“As we have seen in media from “Black Panther” to “Everything Everywhere All At Once” to “Pose,” when authenticity is considered, it creates a palpable specificity. Fans may love a portrayal from a cis actor, and they are welcome to! We all can think of a cis and/or straight actor in a queer role that we hold in our heart. But what is the value of representation in a story when the people employed to tell it are not from the UNDERrepresented community it claims to represent? Yes, in a perfect world, we would all be able to portray whomever we wished in a testament to the universality of the human condition. But the human condition is not universal when many of those humans are considered unfit to tell their own people’s stories. Until that is no longer the case, the work towards equity and authenticity supersedes any actor’s desire to stretch.”
Queer Vox's Response to the "Guilty Gear Strive" Trans Character Casting 2/2 pic.twitter.com/iZQSJX9d9X
— Queer Vox (@queervoxacademy) August 10, 2022
In the English version of Guilty Gear Strive, Bridget is voiced by Kelly Ohanian, known most recently for playing Doc Ock in Spidey and His Amazing Friends. Ohanian has been publicly supportive of Bridget’s coming out storyline. Guilty Gear Strive has done right on this issue before with non-binary character Testament, but cis actors playing trans roles has been an issue both in voice acting and in live action film and television. Whether that be in cases like this, where a cis woman plays a trans woman character, or the inverse where a cis man plays a trans woman like Eddie Redmayne in The Danish Girl.
Video games have had their own controversies regarding this, such as Dragon Age: Inquisition casting Jennifer Hale to play trans man Krem back in 2014. While the character himself was well-received as a breakthrough trans character treated with respect in a AAA game, Hale’s casting over a trans man actor was viewed with more scrutiny. More recently, Naughty Dog was praised for its casting in The Last of Us Part II, which included a trans character named Lev, voiced and mo-capped by trans actor Ian Alexander. However, the character’s storyline was more divisive.
We’ve reached out to Arc System Works for comment on this story and will update it should we hear back.