It’s already kind of old news that one of gaming’s few potentially transgender characters has been hiding in plain sight since the late ’80s in the form of the adorable and misunderstood Mario villain, Birdo.

But that hasn’t stopped the Internet from debating all kinds of aspects about the character’s gender identity, from whether the whole “boy who thinks he’s a girl” thing is Mario canon or whether the character is pre- or post-op. While the Western web was shocked by this stunning news a while back, it seemed Japan was politely giving poor Birdo her privacy and staying out of it, until a recent Twitter post…

Birdo, once thought by many in the US and Europe to be called Ostro due to being mislabeled in the end credits of Super Mario Bros. 2, the first game in which she (or he!) appeared, is a curious creature. Birdo fires eggs at her enemies, and is even seen to protect the special crystals Mario and pals are after as if they’re her own offspring. She also wears a pink bow – the universal sign for “girl” in the old-school gaming world since Namco lazily slapped one on Pac-Man to create Ms. Pac-Man – so for most Birdo was clearly female.

Not so in Japan, apparently, where this recent tweet started a fire online.

“Birdo’s a dude?!”

If the rapidly growing number of retweets is any indication, a lot of Japanese Netizens are to this day being caught off guard by the big revelation of Birdo’s “true” gender. That probably has something to do with the fact that Super Mario Bros. 2 wasn’t really a thing in Japan until the game – which was actually a re-skin of a totally different Nintendo-developed game called Doki-Doki Panic – was later released in the country as Super Mario USA. Well, that and the fact that the character is called Kyasarin (Catherine) in Japan…

Since Super Mario Bros. 2, Birdo has made a bunch of appearances in other Mario games – mostly spinoffs like Mario Kart and Mario Party – and has become a beloved ally to Mario and pals, indicating Birdo, originally a villain, is probably confused about more than just her gender.


Nintendo of America has mostly kept mum on Birdo’s gender identity, which was originally mentioned in obscure promotional materials for Super Mario Bros. 2, possibly because the character turned out to be more than just a throwaway villain with a quirky, one-sentence backstory. Nintendo’s Japan branch hasn’t been as shy about it, as the above Twitter image – which depicts Mario game screens on systems as recent as the Wii U – seems to prove, but it appears it’s still brought up infrequently enough that most Japanese gamers just assume she’s a girl in the traditional sense.

Anyway, while Birdo herself is free to gender-identify however she’d like, the relative paucity of background on the character has led to some speculation that Nintendo of America has quietly retconned Birdo into a regular female… dinosaur… thing. If such a retcon were true, it would at least explain where she gets all those eggs, as laying eggs isn’t something male animals are particularly known for. But it would also mean that, since Nintendo Japan is still characterizing Birdo as a boy, the company has inadvertently created two alternate timelines for the hapless creature and the entire Mario universe, which could hold some Dwayne McDuffy Grand Unification Theory-level implications for the franchise.

All of this is to say that, until Nintendo puts out an official statement or some psychology major somewhere decides to write a doctoral dissertation on the subject, we may never know Birdo’s true gender.

Images via Wikipedia