Persona 3 Reload Does Away With The Original’s Transphobia


Persona 3 Reload is a mostly faithful recreation of the 2006 RPG. There are new social sim elements, new abilities, and a handful of quality-of-life changes, but by and large, it’s the same story about high schoolers killing monsters with the power of friendship. However, after playing through the remake, there’s one major change that feels like a proper modernizing of the story: the removal of an infamous, transphobic exchange between the game’s boy group and a character who appears to be a trans woman.

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In the original Persona 3, there’s a scene where the party goes on a beach trip. Egged on by the class clown/horndog Junpei, the main character gets pulled into a scheme to pick up girls on the beach. After a few unsuccessful attempts, the boys meet a woman who propositions the group, and just as she’s about to leave with one of them, teammate Akihiko Sanada takes note of some stubble on her chin. The woman turns away and remarks that she “missed a spot,” and the game’s text window then puts a question mark at the end of her name “Beautiful lady?” in the English localization. Junpei then exclaims, “She’s a he,” and the boys run away in a trans panic.

You can check out both the English versions of the scene from the original game and the PSP’s point-and-click port Persona 3 Portable below. While there are some slight differences between the two, the shitty sentiment is the same. And do yourself a favor and avoid the comments.

Atlus / DismArchus

In contrast, Persona 3 Reload approaches the scene differently. Rather than the encounter devolving into a transphobic joke, the woman is instead portrayed as a conspiracy theorist. She makes claims about the sun being replaced in the 1980s and tells the boys they’ll need to fork over 300,000 yen for her special sunscreen if they want to shield themselves from its harmful rays. The boys are immediately skeeved and run away. Here’s a clip of the exchange:

Persona 3 Reload Beach Scene

Persona 3 Reload Beach Scene

In an independent translation obtained by Kotaku, we have confirmed the Japanese audio presents the scene the same way. So this isn’t a Persona 5 Royal situation in which the localization alters scenes for the English version while the Japanese version maintains a trope-ridden, homophobic scene—this appears to be a universal change. So if you were considering replaying Persona 3 Reload but did not want to encounter this scene again, you can rest assured that it didn’t survive the remake process. We reached out to Atlus for comment and didn’t hear back in time for publication.

The Persona series has had a very fraught relationship with queer identity, from this particular Persona 3 scene, or Persona 4’s treatment of queer self-discovery as a phase to be grown out of, or Persona 5’s only gay characters being older men who assault a minor. But it seems like the series is slowly trying to pivot its perspective on these topics. More recently, Persona 5 Tactica lets the player express romantic interest in men, and now Persona 3 Reload is retooling a transphobic scene entirely. The question remains if a hypothetical Persona 6 will take the next step and let the player engage in outright queer relationships or not. But this is at least a good step in removing a mean-spirited, transphobic scene that added nothing of value in the first place.

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By asm3a