Last year, I wrote about gender expression in the Sims and how amazing it would be if the game introduced the concept of a gender spectrum, rather than a gender binary….
A recent Sims 4 update revealed something that I never thought would actually come about.
“For the first time, you’ll be able to customize your Sims without the gender boundaries previously set in place. This means you can now create Sims with any type of physique, walk style, and tone of voice you choose – regardless of their gender. We’ve also made clothing, hair, jewelry, and other visual options available to all Sims.” – The Sims 4 Team
Now, not only are sims able to wear whatever clothes you wish, regardless of what gender you assign them, makeup options, walking styles, tone of voice, and even whether a sim using the toilet standing up or sitting down is customizable. This is not something that cisgender (a person whose gender identity corresponds with that person’s biological sex assigned at birth) people often think about as important – after all, the world is designed for cisgender people, as recent controversy around bathroom laws has demonstrated – but for those whose gender identity falls outside the societal default male-female gender binary, this is unprecedented in gaming.
As I touched on in my previous Sims 4 post, gender expression is not physical, but rather something we learn from our environment, culture, and our interactions with others. Supposed misplaced gender expressions are those that don’t fit into society’s expected actions for someone’s presumed gender, such as female-bodied people wearing men’s suits or masculine-presenting people wearing makeup or heels.
These “misplaced gender expressions” are now allowed. If I wanted to, I could remake myself in the Sims and wear decidedly more masculine clothes, adjust the build of my body, or even adjust my voice lower or higher. Seeing all the potential people I can create in my game expand exponentially is exciting enough for a storytelling enthusiast like I am – I can only imagine how gratifying it is to be able to create gender-nonconforming sims for those who fall outside the typical gender binary.
Bravo, the Sims 4 team. I’m impressed.
Isabela Oliveira is a renaissance geek, in the sense that she knows a little about a whole lot of things. She is always looking for the next great TV show to marathon and for the next exciting thing to learn and write about. In her spare time, she writes and manages social media for The Geek Embassy and works to dismantle the patriarchy in Vancouver, Washington.