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Feel what it’s like to raise a transgender child in Texas in this unique video game

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A video game gives players an inside look at what it’s like to raise a transgender child in Texas, a state that has filed more than 30 anti-LGBTQ+ laws this year — including 12 that target trans youth, according to the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Texas Equality.

The game, “Portrait of a Texan Family,” is a visual novel-style game that allows players to customize a character and then play as the parent of a trans girl named Sofía. Customization options include race, bust size, body type, and pronouns. It is the first game developed by New York City indie studio Lookout Drive Games.

It is available online for free.

According to the game’s Itch.io page, the development team was “almost entirely made up of gender nonconforming/transgender people from various backgrounds and cities around the world, including Houston, Texas.”

Lookout Drive Games


As you progress through the game, your character must grab the last three items for your “safe folder,” a folder that can contain “letters from teachers, neighbors, and clergy telling you how good you are a parent to your transgender” child… drawings your child has made of themselves that positively confirm their gender… and photos of you all together,” said the game’s director, Robert Pigott.

“I wanted to make sure we were telling a story that was being handled sensitively… and not taking advantage of the real pain these families went through… that we were telling an emotionally honest, but ultimately hopeful story,” she added. ready.

The game is inspired by a tweet from Amber Briggle, a Texan parent with a trans son, who advised parents to create a safe folder in the wake of February. letter published by Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to the state health authorities. The letter ordered the agencies to: report any issues with gender affirming treatment to trans youth, whom he described as ‘offensive’.

There’s even a scene in the game that closely resembles Briggle’s experience of inviting Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to her home. for dinner with her family in 2016, when the state tried to prevent trans youth from using toilets in conjunction with their gender identity. Five years later, Paxton gave a legal opinion call sex reassignment procedures and puberty blockers for trans children “child abuse” under Texas law. Abbott’s letter came shortly after.

In the letter, Abbott lists the procedures Texas state law considers “child abuse,” including “relocation surgeries that can cause sterilization, mastectomy, removals of otherwise healthy body parts, and administration of puberty-blocking drugs or supraphysiological doses of testosterone or estrogen.”

This characterization of medical transition is in stark contrast to the data, which consistently show that access to gender transition positively impacts the quality of life of transgender people. An analysis of 56 peer-reviewed works by the What we know project found that in 93% of studies, the gender transition improved the overall well-being of transrespondents.

The game aims to “tell a fictional story about a family raising a transgender child in Texas that humanizes this family for people who have never actually been around or been around trans children,” said Pigott, who says the community’s response to the game has been “overwhelmingly positive.”

In June, a judge temporarily blocked Texas of researching the families of trans children. The temporary restraining order halted investigations against three families who had sued the state, and prevented similar investigations against members of the LGBTQ+ advocacy group PFLAG Inc., which has more than 600 members in the state.

On Friday, a state in Texas judge moved to protect a larger group of families from Abbott’s directive, but an immediate appeal from Paxton allowed the investigation into child abuse to continue, according to the Washington Post.

While the struggles of trans youth in Texas are obvious, Pigott wants the game to capture not only the difficult reality trans children and their families face, but also the joy.

“We want players to feel immersed in the game, not just feeling the fear and tension that sometimes appears in the everyday life of a family raising a trans child,” they said, “but also the love and the support and the hope that a family like this has.”

“I think we’ve achieved that.”

Lookout Drive Games


LGBTQ+ Media Advocacy Organization SMOOTH found that there were “zero transgender or non-binary characters in any major studio theatrical releases in 2021” but that there were “42 transgender regular and recurring characters across all broadcasts, cable and streaming,” according to one report of the non-profit. GLAAD does not follow the representation of LGBTQ+ in video games.

Pigott believes that representation for transgender people is just as important in video games — if not more — as it is in television and film.

“I have a feeling that video games are going to become the predominant art of the 21st century, if not already. And it’s so important for kids, especially kids who are on their own…gender identity journey, to see that you can live your truth, live your best life, live the way you want to live in terms of your gender identity and your sexuality, and be accepted for it,” they said.

“When someone plays ‘Portrait of a Texas Family,’ and that potentially helps them come to their own positive conclusions about their gender identity, I mean, that’s all any of us on the team can ever hope for.”

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