Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Last of Us Part II’s Lev actor addresses the game’s controversial trans scene

There have been plenty of think pieces on Lev, the honest-to-god best new character included in The Last of Us Part II, and how Naughty Dog handled him being trans. Regardless of our own analysis of the handling of Lev being trans, Lev’s own actor, Ian Alexander, has his own thoughts and feelings about the character and the future of said character in The Last of Us universe.

This insight from Alexander comes from his interview with Wired, where the young actor spoke out about his own thoughts and feelings of a particular scene that caused so much controversy. The scene in question is part of the latter half of the game where players take the role of Abby and, during a fight with Lev’s people – a religious group called The Seraphites – that Lev gets deadnamed.

For those who don’t know, being deadnamed is when someone uses the name you were given at birth even though you’ve made it clear that you don’t go by that name anymore. For most, it brings up bad memories can be extremely tough for people to hear. So for Lev, the first trans character to be introduced into The Last of Us series ever, being deadnamed felt like a poor show for a lot of LGBTQ+ fans.

The Last of Us Trans
Lev was one of the stand out characters from The Last of Us Part II

Alexander sees that scene a little more favourably than one might expect, however. Though he hasn’t negated fans frustrations with that scene, either. “I completely understand a lot of people’s frustrations,” he says. “Obviously, the writers have the best intentions and wanted to bring authentic representation, and they might have missed the mark a little bit with that.”

For him though, the scene was pretty important and not just because it brought Lev and Abby closer together. For Alexander, the scene was vital because it showed something that both trans people and cis allies should see. That at moments like this, where Abby and Lev get to know more about one another, it’s Lev making the decision to open up about that part of his life.

“It should always be their decision.” Alexander says, “they make the first move. They have agency over talking about it, because it is something that’s really deeply personal and can be very triggering to talk about.”

But more importantly, Alexander’s time with Lev – while bittersweet at times – has helped him with his self-confidence and healing. “I can be a successful trans person, and I can have a happy, beautiful life, and I do deserve this, and I don’t have to doubt myself.”

You can read the full interview between Ian Alexander and Wired, here.

Aimee Hart

[She/They] Aimee Hart is Editor-in-Chief of Gayming Magazine. She specializes in queer fandom, video games and tabletop, having started her career writing for numerous websites like The Verge, Polygon, Input Magazine and more. Her goal now is to boost LGBTQ+ voices in the video games industry.

One thought on “The Last of Us Part II’s Lev actor addresses the game’s controversial trans scene

  • I might have just read this wrong but the entire point of the dead-naming is to portray a nuanced and realistic representation of trans stories. The “trans controversy” of this game is with the “fans” being upset with “forced diversity”. Let’s not get mad at a game for providing honest and ugly transphobia as a story telling tool and direct the emotions at the transphobic gamers who just hate seeing trans people in video games.

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