BRIDGET IN CANON
Bridget is a recurring character in the Guilty Gear series of fighting games, who works as a bounty hunter. She is a yo-yo master hailing from England, with her favorite one being a gift to her from her father. She uses her yo-yo as a weapon, along with her mechanized teddy bear, Roger (who has presumably been possessed).
Bridget is gentle and lighthearted, although a bit of an airhead at times. Being born to a wealthy family, Bridget is very polite, even to the criminals she hunts. She can be a little bit of a show-off regarding her abilities as a yo-yo performer, but, honestly, with skills like hers, it's justified. She is cheerful and wants to reassure her parents, who worry for her greatly for reasons we'll get to shortly; she even goes as far as to fake happiness for their sake. Picking up the yo-yo was not just a hobby, but also an attempt to show her parents that she was happy. She is a very caring girl who likes napping, but also has a list of dislikes including sea cucumber, shiitake mushrooms, bitter herbs, insects and ghosts. Her birthday is October 26th, and she's 5'2"!
Bridget was introduced to the Guilty Gear series as a crossdressing male character back in 2002-2003, but, 20+ years later, was re-introduced into the series as a trans woman whose story involves her accepting her gender identity.
Bridget was born in England to a wealthy family, soon after her twin brother. However, in the town in which she was raised, there was a very prevalent superstition that male twins brought misfortune; so convinced of this fact that they insisted the younger of any set of male twins be put to death, or given up. Bridget's parents, of course, didn't want this for their child, so they chose to raise Bridget as a daughter instead of a son, hiding what gender she was assigned at birth from the public.
Growing up, Bridget was privileged in getting good training and tutoring, because of her parents being so wealthy. Bridget loved her parents with her whole heart, and did her best to keep them from ever worrying about her, but she could see that her putting on a happy face (even though she felt it was needed) made her parents feel guilty, and like they were forcing her to live how she was. The harder Bridget tried to convey that she was happy, her parents believed her less and less. As such, Bridget considered leaving the village. She thought that perhaps, presenting as a man and bringing great wealth to her village would convince her hometown that the superstition was untrue, which would unburden her parents with guilt.
As she was considering this, Bridget found a bounty poster for a Gear which promise a W$500,000 bounty for her death. She immediately set out to fulfill this bounty, leaving her hometown and parents to do so. However, when she got there, Dizzy had already been defeated. Discouraged, but not losing hope, Bridget began to look for other bounties, in hopes that this will be a way to solve her problems.
GUILTY GEAR XX
Soon after the incident with Dizzy, Bridget came across the mysterious trouble-maker I-No. After she proved she had the skills to back up being a bounty hunter, I-No began to manipulate Bridget via giving her a bulletin with fake bounties. In one path, the moralistic swordsman, Ky Kiske, revealed that the criminals that Bridget collected from the bulletin were innocent all along, and compensated her for her efforts.
In another path, she met the previously-mentioned Dizzy again, along with the spunky May, of the Jellyfish Pirates. After a fight, Bridget realized that Dizzy is not a bad person, and they end up becoming friends! In the third path, Johnny of the Jellyfish Pirates intervened because of Bridget successfully knocking out a member of his beloved crew, but he quickly became distracted by her pretty looks. He began to flirt with Bridget, until she (still in the egg at this point) bluntly informs him that she is a guy, after which he drops it.
Bridget worked hard to become a great and accomplished bounty hunter, but a lacking in wanted criminals made her worry that she won't be able to make ends meet. On her way to visit her new friends, the Jellyfish Pirates, Bridget contemplated a new career as an entertainer; presumably regarding her very impressive yo-yo skills. Indeed, in one path, Bridget began to work as a waiter who did yo-yo performances for the customers, in another character's restaurant. In the other path, Bridget returned to her hometown without the wealth that she had hoped for, only to find that her uncle and her twin brother had left the village to search for Bridget. She resolved to find both of them.
GUILTY GEAR - STRIVE -
Set 6 years after the events of XX, by the time that Strive takes place, Bridget has become a great and famous bounty hunter, making huge contributions to her village. Like she had suspected, this made the superstition of her village fizzle down. As such, nothing more could restrict how she and her parents lived!
However, Bridget found herself without a goal to work towards. In between games, and no longer with a reason to "pretend" to be a girl, she tried to live as a man... But it didn't feel quite right. She remained a bounty hunter, but was left searching for a purpose, and a way to understand her true self.
Enter Goldlewis, who located Bridget to try and add Roger to his cryptid collection. When Bridget resists, Goldlewis accepts this, and, in conversation, refers to her as "li'l lady". Bridget, with a notable lack of enthusiasm, "corrects" him; she is a boy. Goldlewis notices Bridget's anxiousness, and assesses that this is due to her hiding her true self. Bridget recognizes what he is saying, and admits, "I always thought that, as long as I kept quiet, things would work out... But it hurts too much. I haven’t even told my parents." Goldlewis reassures Bridget that she doesn't have to tell anyone anything that she doesn't want to, but if holding it in hurts her, that's a different story.
Conflicted after this conversation, Bridget decides to seek out Ky (the moralistic swordsman from before), who encourages her to decide for herself how she should live. These conversations lead her to one of two paths. In one path, she affirms that she will continue to think about her happiness and her future. In the other path... Well, I'll just put the whole conversation here, because I like it quite a lot.
Ky: "Stop right there. That's enough."
Bridget: "I... I don’t know what to do. I'm not strong like you, Mr. Ky. I'm too scared of losing what I have."
Goldlewis: "Runnin' away, huh? Ain't you a little young for a midlife crisis?"
Bridget: "O-of course I'm running! I'm happy the way I am..."
Ky: "Discretion can be the better part of valor... But think about it. For the sake of your future self."
Bridget: "For my... Future self... ...But what if I make the wrong decision?"
Goldlewis: "You got your whole life ahead of you, kid. Gotta learn to take a hit sometime."
Ky: "And there are helping hands right in front of you."
Bridget: "... I... I don't want to run scared anymore. If I keep on faking it like this, I know I'll regret it... So from now on, no matter what... No more lying to myself. Thank you! Both of you!"
Goldlewis: "Don’t mention it. Happy trails, cowgirl. Or, uh, cowboy...?"
Bridget: "Cowgirl is fine! Because... I’m a girl!" ♥
BRIDGET OUTSIDE HER GAME
BRIDGET IN THE PUBLIC EYE
CW: Discussion of transphobic language and general transphobia.
Bridget, with her Guilty Gear XX portrayal, was an unspeakable force in regards to her influence on "femboy" culture. But, like, the weird 4chan right-wing type. Not cool femme queer men. Back in the early days of 4chan, she even contributed to the coining of "trap" to describe boys who are feminine in appearance; with people on 4chan showing her to people who didn't know the games, in an attempt to bait them into saying that they find her attractive. Other users would reply with a gif of Admiral Ackbar from Star Wars saying, "It's a trap!" Back before Strive's release, she was almost a poster child for right-wing femboy culture. This largely contributed to her being one of the most popular characters in the game, even placing first place for the most requested character, in Japan's Open Beta Test survey for Guilty Gear Strive.
All of this in mind... Bridget's huge popularity as a "femboy" icon, especially with weird, right-leaning 4chan types who use the term "trap" to describe men who look like ladies... You can only imagine the hell that broke loose after Bridget's Strive release dropped.
If you've ever seen a popular character from Japanese media confirmed queer, you already KNOW what was going on. People screaming that her storyline in Strive was a "mistranslation", from those darned WOKE localizers. And it didn't help that there were two branching paths for the end of her story, too. Despite the obvious positive tone of the ending where she affirms that she is a girl, people tried to say that this was supposed to be "the bad ending" for Bridget. Never mind that her evident despondence about telling people that she was a boy is present in all routes, as is at least some version of Bridget affirming that she is hiding from herself specifically in regards to her gender. It was some of the most desperate straw-grasping I have ever witnessed.
This discourse raged on for far longer than it had any right to, with 4chan types refusing to believe that their precious femboy icon could be trans. That is until Daisuke Ishiwatari; the creator and the GOAT; stepped in, and not only confirmed what we all knew, but also dropped some shocking new information along the way.
Ishiwatari confirmed that, not only was Bridget a trans woman (with him saying, "After the events of Bridget’s story in Arcade Mode, she self-identifies as a woman. So, as to whether 'he' or 'she' would be the correct pronoun for Bridget, the answer would be 'she."), but also that Bridget had ALWAYS BEEN INTENDED to be a trans woman. Her story in Guilty Gear XX was their best attempt to showcase a trans identity, with the language and knowledge that they had at the time. Katano, from the development team of the game, went on to further state, "Currently, the recognition of transgender people has spread considerably, and it seems that the times have caught up with Bridget's story." Which I think is just a wonderful way to put it.
The discourse around Bridget's gender has finally calmed down, as-of now. The 4chan types now mostly have abandoned her as their little mascot, but Bridget remains beloved in the trans community. Her popularity blew up with trans people once she was announced, and basically every trans person had her as a profile picture for at least a little while after that initial Strive announcement. To this day, Bridget is talked about as a great character, and an amazing, affirming and well-done example of trans representation.
BRIDGET TO ME (PERSONAL THOUGHTS)
I think that a large contributor to Bridget's popularity and staying power as a trans icon is the existence of Bridget in Guilty Gear XX. Most media doesn't give us a lot of progression in trans identity; most attempts at trans representation introduce us to a trans character post-transition. Bridget's story is messy, both intentionally (to show the hell that is trying to allow yourself the space to accept yourself) and unintentionally (due to the original game coming out at a time where trans people were not as recognized). That messiness and the transitional aspect, in my opinion, is important to portray, even when most media shies away from it. So for Bridget, a character who has been around for 20 years and who already famously Had Some Gender Stuff Going On, to re-appear again as genuine trans representation was a very special case.
Plus, there is also a sense of reclaimation about her. As stated, Bridget was one of the poster children for right-wing 4chan femboy culture, which infamously belittles trans existence. This culture oftentimes treats trans women as the enemy, and the term "trap" that Bridget was used to popularize reflects a real-world mindset that ends with the harm of trans people. I think that, even if it was poorly done, or if it was a change in direction for the character's intention, Bridget being revealed as trans would have made a lot of people really happy. The reveal that her story had always been an attempt to portray trans existence, and her Strive story and design being done as well as it was, only multiplied that, until she was considered a verifiable trans icon; standing toe-to-toe with the likes of Blåhaj.
Those are the reasons why I think that Bridget has remained so popular in the trans community. As for myself, though? I relate to Bridget's messy experience with figuring herself out. I relate to her personality, and I love how kind and gentle she is. Her design is so comfy, and she seems like she would paint my nails for me and give me a big hug when I need it! Her descriptions of her gender dysphoria and struggles to accept her identity resonates with me deeply, to the point that I often joke that the people behind her writing had access to some sort of Secret Trans Knowledge. She's such a comforting character for me, and one of my very few synpaths (when I am quite picky in choosing what to label as such).
Lastly, on a mild tangent, Bridget's official theme, "The Town Inside Me", is also extremely important to me. You can listen to it by clicking the music player in the top left corner! Even if it wasn't associated with Bridget, I think it would be really important to me as a piece of trans media. The lyrics have some of the best descriptions of both gender dysphoria...
"Me, without 'me'... / I'm the one to blame"
"I've been patiеnt, but it was bearable / I've had a gray haze for a long time though... (Boom, boom!) / I never found out, what it was, I / Tastes like vegetables I don't like!"
... And gender euphoria...
"I'm out of patience, my body is light / Let's paint the gray haze into a sky blue! / I know who you are / I'm not leaving you again!"
"The night falls, the place where I belong / No matter what changes, will no longer change me / No matter what (change), no, no, no, won't change me / I can feel the light, even after the sun goes down!"
... I've ever heard.
Not only that, but the progression of the song is just incredible. The triumphant sound of the ending parts of the song, where the trumpets kick in and Bridget accepts herself. The progression of the line, "I'm the one to blame," from being sung the first time, more quietly and questioningly, to the second time, more certain of her self-deprecation, to the last time, almost completely drowned out by the celebratory music. The shift from, "What it was, I / Tastes like vegetables I don't like," at the start of the song, to, "It's all just food! Y'know?", at the end, indicating a radical change in how she views herself. It's such a wonderful way to sum up Bridget's journey of self-actualization, for which we were, for 20 years, along for the ride.
Going from the poster child for an often anti-trans right-wing culture, to a verified trans icon...