Pokemon GO, a popular augmented reality-based mobile game, may have finally confirmed that one of its newest game characters identify as non-binary. In a blog post published on the website of the mobile game, Blanche, the team leader from Team GO Rocket, was referred to with the singular pronoun “they/them” which typically indicate that someone identifies as non-binary.
“Blanche became visibly upset, which tends to happen when things don’t go to their carefully curated plans. This was when something unexpected happened. Instead of us finding a Team GO Rocket Leader, one of them found us,” reads the blog post published in Pokemon GOHub.
The blog post also discussed the idea that since Professor Willow, another character in the game, referred to Blanche as a “they/their,” it could be a confirmation that Blanche is indeed non-binary.
“Although this is a small detail, it sparked a good deal of debate in the Pokemon GO community. Usually, Niantic’s verbiage doesn’t address Team Leaders’ gender in a particular way, making it rather hard to determine if this is an actual nod to non-binary gender,” the blog post further reads.
The gender identity of Blanche has since been puzzling game fans and players, but it seems like, with the blog post published by Pokemon GO, their suspicions have finally been confirmed.
Non-binary is a spectrum of gender identities that do not conform with the binary assignment of masculine and feminine. Non-binary individuals may identify with two or more genders, but the most critical part of this identity is its rebellion from the gender binary and its refusal to conform to gendered identities.
The singular pronouns “they/them” has since been used as an indication that someone identifies as a non-binary individual. However, it is also important to understand that not everyone who prefers the “they/them” pronoun identifies as non-binary. In the same manner, not everyone who identifies as non-binary does not use “they/them” as their preferred pronouns.
The argument on Blanche’s non-binary identity is even strengthened by the fact that in the same blog post, other game characters were referred to as their preferred gendered pronouns such as “he” and “she.”
As expected, Twitter users celebrated the development of Blanche’s character, calling it a “step forward.” Non-binary individuals have since been underrepresented in the popular media, and Pokemon GO’s decision to assign it as an identity of one of its characters is a progressive stance.
Many of the Twitter users who chimed in the discussion has praised Pokemon GO’s move towards a more inclusive representation.
“Can we talk about the fact that Blanche identifies as ‘they/them’ and is canonically the first non-binary character in Pokemon canon, and they didn’t have to make a big deal out of it? This the kind of inclusivity I like,” said one person on Twitter.
Many have also expressed how they have since thought that Blanche is a non-binary character. “Pokemon GO just casually confirmed a non-binary character, and I sWEAR I’ve been saying Blanche is non-binary since the moment I saw their silhouette back in 2016,” another user said on Twitter.