Celeste’s protagonist is confirmed as trans in a blog post from the creator.
Celeste is a 2D platformer of which in 2018 reported over 500,000 copies being sold. The game also saw a free DLC introduced to the base game in 2019 titled, ‘Farewell‘ and featured over 100 new levels. In a new blog post, creator Maddy Thorson confirms that the protagonist, Madeline, is canonically trans after speculation surrounding the end of said DLC.
As PC Gamer states, the Farewell DLC that launched last year saw Gay and Trans Pride flags on her desk, a show of support to the LGBTQ+ fans, but the protagonist was never presented as transgender. This did cause some concerns around representation and the game’s silence about it. In the opening line of the post it reads, “Well, yeah, of course she is.” says Maddy, “This feels painfully obvious to a lot of (mostly trans) people, and likewise it feels painfully obvious to me too, in retrospect.”
“It has also become painfully obvious to me that I, myself, am trans. But these are things that I was not aware of during the development of Celeste,” Maddy explains. they note that it was only during the development of the Farewell DLC that they “had a hunch” but post-development they “now know that we both are.”
Maddy notes that “The Celeste community has wanted clarification on Madeline’s identity for a long time now, and I don’t blame anyone for wanting that, but the messy realities of my gender identity and coming out have meant that I needed time before I could talk openly about it.”
Part of the post also details, “Trans people shouldn’t be forced to publicly identify as trans in a world that is often hostile to them, and they shouldn’t be reduced to their transness. They should be allowed to live their lives how they want, and everyone should be free to explore their gender identity without feeling pressure to place themselves into simplistic categories for the benefit of others.”
The blog post goes into more details such as representation and stages of development as well as referencing some key moments in the DLC and apologizes for the silence surrounding the topic, “We understand that some fans felt hurt by our silence on this after Farewell’s release, and I’m sorry for that. It’s wrapped up in my personal gender identity and it’s messy! I simply didn’t know the words until now.”
When touching on if Celeste had been created now, “If I could start over from the beginning of Celeste’s development, knowing everything about myself and Madeline that I know now, would I write her differently? Yeah, probably.” They add, ” I didn’t go into this game intending to make a trans story and I would understand my own gender a lot better than I did, that’s for sure. But then again, I’m a very different person and Celeste wouldn’t be the same game. For my part, Celeste is about who I was, which includes that struggle for understanding.”
Celeste is a wonderful game, and was even incredibly accessible with its assist modes and saw the game used on Game accessibility guidelines with how the features were implemented. The blog post —which is worth a good read— has seen an outpouring of support from fans, as it should. Maddy also mentions in the post, “If you got something out of Celeste, and now you’re thinking that Madeline being trans ruins that for you, I would take that as a sign that you have some transphobic beliefs to work through.”
Celeste is available on PC, PS4, Xbox One, and Nintendo Switch.