Meet Magic: The Gathering's First Trans Character

Meet Magic: The Gathering's First Trans Character

Over the years, there have been thousands of Magic: The Gathering cards, many with their own characters and mini-stories. Only one, however, is trans, and this one is pretty darn cool.

Though most players don't dig into the collectible card game god emperor's mythos, they're expansive — untapped lands open for exploration. Sometimes, it's generic fantasy, sometimes it's more interesting than that. One thing's for sure though: there is definitely an enormous amount of it.

Wizards of the Coast recently added yet another entry to its years-spanning story tome with Alesha, Who Smiles at Death. Her card is part of the recently released Fate Reforged set, and her story weaves together the culture of her battle-baptised clan (which she leads) and her own identity. It's pretty well done, despite the fact that it very much reads like Another Fantasy Story.

The short version is, Alesha's clan allows its members to pick their own names, but only after glorious feats in battle. Many of the clan's members are orcs and other species given to copious brain-smashing. So they tend to pick names that reflect, you know, murder. But Alesha decides to take a very different, much more personal approach:

The khan had walked among the warriors, hearing the tales of their glorious deeds. One by one, they declared their new war names, and each time, the khan shouted the names for all to hear. Each time, the horde shouted the name as one, shaking the earth.

Then the khan came to Alesha. She stood before him, snakes coiling in the pit of her stomach, and told how she had slain her first dragon. The khan nodded and asked her name.

"Alesha," she said, as loudly as she could. Just Alesha, her grandmother's name.

"Alesha!" the khan shouted, without a moment's pause.

And the whole gathered horde shouted "Alesha!" in reply. The warriors of the Mardu shouted her name.

In that moment, if anyone had told her that in three years' time she would be khan, she just might have dared to believe it.

Three years later, the story focuses on her conflict with an orc who refuses to take a name because he's struggling to come to grips with his own identity, his own role — but in a very different way:

"I saw you hold back. I saw you cut the beast's claw instead of its neck. Why?"

The orc snarled. "I don't know."

"You could have earned your war name," [Alesha] said. "Know who you are, and claim it."

Anger twisted the orc's face and he took another step toward her. "You tell me this? A human boy who thinks he's a woman?"

Alesha kept her face impassive as a nearby goblin squeaked and scampered away from her, no doubt anticipating her wrath. Before she could answer the nameless orc, though, the dragon was upon them.

You can read the full thing here.


    What does trans mean?

      Trans is a latin prefix meaning across. The character in question clearly travels across many lands seeking battle; maybe an early trans-continental even.

      In the context of what is being discussed trans means transsexual not travelling. So Alesha is this situation has a sex of male, however is female in gender.

        Actually, unless I'm missing the lore, it probably means transgender, i.e. the character's sexual identify differs from the sex in which they were born. Transsexual refers to someone who has, or is in the process of, transitioning from one sex to another through surgery, hormone therapy, etc.

        It's transgender rather than transsexual in this context - I believe nowadays the latter refers to post-op trans people but is considered pejorative. Your description of Alesha's gender identity is spot on; thank you for highlighting the difference between sex and gender.

          Herp derp. Went to the effort to use correct words only to fail in that regard. Definitions are a bit fluffy but yes, in this context transgender is more appropriate.

      Transsexual or transgender (though transgender is the more accepted word). Someone who feels that their internal feelings of gender and outward appearance of gender aren't a correct match.

    untapped lands open for exploration

    I see what you did there.

    To get in before what I'm unfortunately sure will be people who are angry about this: either representation does have an effect, in which case it's nice to see Magic step up, or it doesn't, in which case it shouldn't matter that this character is something other than a "standard" straight white male.

    So I guess this mighty warrior got his pee pee cut off by a pee pee warlock and now wonders the lands as a lady of the battle.

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