2023 - 10: Juniper

Written in 2023

Juniper is one of Xenoblade Chronicles 3's heroes. Within the game, there are certain characters that can be part of the party. They can't be controlled directly, but they help in their respective profession (healer, tank, damage dealer) and they have some interesting storylines that have usually two parts: One that starts when the party meets the heroes and then another to finish their personal quests.

Amidst a forest that has grown around old ruins lays Colony Tau, an colony set up by the queendom of Agnus. However, whilst other colonies are part of intense fights, Colony Tau was somewhat forgotten. They couldn't acquire any new life force, and so they faced the fate of dying when all of their life force provided by the colony were to be depleted. The people living there were kind of nihilistic and accepted their fate. Their leader was Juniper.

Juniper tried to make the best out of the situation, helped hunting food and keeping intruders away. After getting to know the player's party, and getting to understand what was behind the world of Xenoblade 3, they decided to help out and eventually got free of the dependence of life force. Juniper then became a dependable hero who also helped other colonies to survive by teaching them how to grow crops.

What's special about Juniper is that they are non-binary. Well, that's not so special per se - being non-binary is just another valid identity as anyone else. It's great that there is a nonbinary character in Xenoblade for representation purposes, but that's not the interesting part.

The game made sure that Juniper is non-binary in every language. The developers and localization teams used either non-specific pronouns when addressing Juniper, or no pronouns at all.

And the characters within the world of Xenoblade 3 don't make a fuss about it. Juniper, a Gormotti inspired "cat human" could have been designed so full of cliche, oversexualized and having their identity put into focus. But no - Juniper is just Juniper. An archter, clad in functional clothing, who helps the party. They are a non-binary person who is just part of the crew.

This should really serve as an example of how to do it.

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