BioWare details changes to controversial transgender NPC

Susana Polo

The company apologized to hurt fans In a tweet from its official account this afternoon, BioWare detailed changes the company would be making to Hainly Abrams, an NPC who appears in Mass Effect: Andromeda. Yesterday, the company released a list of upcoming changes that would be coming to the long-awaited, recently released game, including both patch notes for an imminent update, and a list of further changes the developer wishes to make. The majority of those changes were related to the game’s oft remarked upon instances of odd animation, while others were quality of life improvements like the ability to skip certain cutscenes.

A small minority of changes were about less mechanical aspects of the game and more narrative ones, including one described as “adjustments to conversations with Hainly Abrams. ” Like a lot of Mass Effect: Andromeda’s NPCs, when the main character meets her, Hainly will easily respond to Ryder’s request to know why she chose to join the Andromeda Initiative and leave the Milky Way forever. Hainly explains that she is transgender: She chose to travel to Andromeda to find a place where her identity would be recognized in a way that it wasn’t in the Milky Way.

She explains this, in part, by offhandedly telling Ryder the masculine name she was given at birth. The abrupt and casual nature of the conversation, despite its weighty content, bothered many Mass Effect fans who are of or familiar with the transgender community — and so did the implication that Milky Way society was an unwelcoming place for transgender humans. After all, in the Mass Effect games, the Milky Way’s government was co-founded by a species without an innate cultural idea of gender.

From Polygon’s post detailing the criticism of the conversation: Why does Abrams tell you her pre-transition name out of the blue, the same name that she hated being called so much she willingly left behind the entirety of the world she knew to fly unfathomable distances away on a one way trip? The fact that Hainly expresses discomfort at her previous name, yet willingly and unprompted reveals it to Ryder upon their first conversation, makes little sense. It shows a surface level knowledge…

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