Forums: Index > Lore Discussion > The Qun and Transgender
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At the damn risk of sounding transphobic, I think that when the Iron Bull was referring to transgender in regards to Krem, that he was lying. My thoughts come after seeing the cutscene for the big reveal that "Oh my gosh Krem is born a woman!" were immediately slashed after seeing the cutscene where I had to hit Iron Bull with a stick because Cassandra couldn't do it right.

Why would I think the Iron Bull lied to his comrades? Because the Qun wouldn't be a thing to swap gender roles at the fact that someone thought they were different, because that frankly unravels the literal entirety of the Qun. What if a merchant thought he was placed in the wrong spot and should be a warrior? Iron Bull is a trained liar, so I do believe that it would more likely be a lie than the truth. Especially with how quick he said it. Felt kinda rehearsed, but then again a lot dialogue probably was.

I dunno, seems like too big a loophole for Qunari society to say "Yeah let's allow gender roles to be swapped because they believe themselves to be a man in a woman's body-- next we'll allow merchants to be warriors because clearly they're warriors trapped in a merchant's body..."

  1. WayLate #CisgenderedScum #HashtagsonDAWikiForums #PleaseDontBanMeDabuddah 10:18, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

Throwing my 2 cents into it; by reversing gender roles, does not necessarily mean the vocations they are assigned to, will be changed. Regardless, Bull explains it more clearly I think, in a more believable manner by saying if a woman wants to fight within the Qun and is actually suited for it she effectively becomes a man within the eyes of their society. Okay, might be grasping at the straws, as Sten's reaction seems to be more dictated in the completely opposite direction when he sees a woman fighting when you speak to him as a fem warden.

HOWEVER, it should be noted in that regards there's a huge difference between a woman warrior and a transgendered person. Obviously, if your own personal canon is that your warden is trans, then that's just something BW didn't think of or consider likely enough to write dialogue for at the time. Otherwise, I'd assume that your warden accepts feminine pronouns in reference to herself and may have other feminine possessions. Bull also happens to says no one but the tamassarans really know the Qun yet Sten says all learn it by heart, however I think only the tamassarans now its true meaning. More importantly however, a female Warden still acts like a female, who just happens to fight. Thus, the Qun thus Sten, sees the female Warden as a female who's trying to do a male's job. Krem on the other hand, acts like a guy all the way, and therefore is a man under the Qun. Yes, Sten has got some problems with a woman fighting, because in the Qun it's a man's job. Krem on the other hand behaves like a man and speaks of himself with masculine words. He makes it really clear that he's a man. So he can have a man's job according to the Qun. The Warden's Identity or how she presents herself is what leads to the supposed contradiction or confusion. Sten says "I don't understand. You look like a woman." "Look" is the key word. Krem does not look like a woman nor act or speak like one.

Also, an important thing to note is: the difference may not actually be in the Qun but the perspective we are getting. Sten is a traditional Qunari with limited experience of non-Qunari cultures. The Iron Bull has a completely different mindset. Its very likely that Sten and The Iron Bull would describe the exact same events in very different ways, just like we in the real world would; does this make IB a liar, no.

I think Bull, who probably isn't even a strong adherent of the Qun, might have just been saying it for the sakes of it; to paint the Qunari as a more tolerable people but that's falsifiable since he also talks about the rest of Qunari society under traditional means, but I actually think he's speaking the truth. I think it seems to some that it tethers a bit on retcon but it really isn't and is explainable actually. I actually think we barely know the true nature behind the way the Qun live anyways. We've got much to learn and BW will probably exploit that more in the future. I think the tamassrans know more about the Qun in regards to gender roles, than we get out of Iron Bull and even Sten for that matter. They raise them, if they see something different in their behaviour, I am sure they have a chat or certain sessions with the person who believes they are a male rather than a female for example. I believe, just like in our world, things do contradict themselves based on perspective, but that's all natural.

tl;dr: I think that it's consistent if under the Qun, as gender is merely seen as another 'role' one happens to fulfill rather than something that is an innate characteristic. Sten's problem with a female warden would then not be strictly 'why are you a woman doing a man's job', but more 'why are you not presenting yourself as a man when doing what is a man's job'. As a system, I imagine that the acceptance of transgendered people combined with highly restrictive gender roles leads to different social issues surrounding gender, rather than none. Lazare326 13:08, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

Pretty sure Gaider's already mentioned that it wasn't an original part of the Qun (as in, when the devs first wrote it) but doesn't contradict it in any way, so it's not a retcon, just an add on.

Gender is a social role and if Krem is a warrior with aptitude to be one and declares himself male there's no reason to say he isn't one as he's clearly being a productive member of society in that role. Sten's contradiction is if a female warden says she's a woman AND a fighter - which Krem is not. In case Krem wanted to be a merchant he'd be saying he's not a man because men aren't merchants.--ssalgnikool (talk) 13:23, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

Yup. ^Basically a somewhat more concise summary of what I mentioned. Still find the social order under the Qun extremely interesting. Lazare326 13:29, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

I agree with the explanations others mentioned, but I thought I'd mention something I just thought of. When Sten explained the Qun's strict gender roles, I assumed it was based on old fashioned ideas about what's considered a man's work and a woman's work. The conclusion I drew was that women can't fight in the Qun because they're considered to be smaller and weaker than men.

Now that I think of it, gender roles are probably based on the mental differences between men and women. Qunari might figure that men are less emotional, more aggressive, and better at following orders than women. (I don't think that, just to be clear.) If that's true, than what do you do with a woman like Krem, who thinks like a man, acts like a man, and even thinks of herself as male? You could brainwash her and force her into mindless servitude, or you could accept him as a man with a physical deformity that has little to no negative effect on his usefulness to the Qun. The latter option sounds much more pragmatic to me.

Qunari seem to put usefulness and practicality above all else, but they aren't stupid enough to waste a resource. They are wise enough to understand that you can't completely overcome all weaknesses and personal issues, as evidenced by Bull's claim that the Qunari have (the Qunari equivalent of) prostitutes to satisfy physical needs. In the past, I've mistaken the Qun's strict beliefs as simplicity. The Qun strives for order and truth, but those goals can be surprisingly complex, as is the journey to achieve it. (talk) 21:02, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

As others have said, the conflict arises if woman tries to perform a man's role (or vice versa) not if a woman tries to be a man. It's worth noting that if a female Hawke takes Fenris on the final quest in act 2, Fenris will declare that Hawke is Basalit-an and has earned the right to challenge the Arishok. The Arishok will say that he would never fight a woman. Fenris then says "but she is not a woman". In the eyes of the Qun, a warrior who is biologically female is socially male - basically the body doesn't matter. At least, that's what I've gathered from everything we've been presented about the Qunari so far. Silver Warden (talk) 21:22, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

As I understand the Qun to be, it takes into account your gender in terms of anatomy when initially assigning one their role within the system. Those biologically female are given the "female" roles, as the Qun declares them better for them, whereas males are considered to be physically superior for roles involving fighting. As they lack family units as we understand, and child care and education are within the system itself, I'm not sure whether these count as "gender roles" as we would in our world's sense of it, but I'd leave that kind of debate for a different forum. Apart from that, "gender" doesn't really seem to be counted any further except in terms of breeding. I think from the Qun's mindset, what one thinks they are in terms of gender in their mind is completely irrelevant, and it's "role" (basically, your "job") that determines how people treat your actions and person. I'm not sure I entirely made sense, but I hope others get what I was driving at. EzzyD (talk) 22:06, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

I do. Unless I'm misunderstanding, you're saying that there is a difference between a society's gender roles and an individual's biological sex. Most biological women would end up in a woman's role, but on the rare occasion when one doesn't fit into any of those roles, they'd be given a male role that fits. The anatomy isn't as important as how well they do at a job, but jobs do have specific gender roles. (talk) 22:27, August 25, 2015 (UTC)
Agreed. Also, the tamasrans spend years raising and educating qunari children before they get a job so, it's not like roles are given out at birth. Bull implies as much when he describes what it was like when he was given his role. I imagine that under the Qun a transgendered person would be identified as such before they got their role, so it's not like they ever switch from a female role to a male one. Silver Warden (talk) 22:49, August 25, 2015 (UTC)
Yeah, both of those are pretty much exactly what I was hoping would come across. Additionally, unless someone was born outside the Qunari mindset, while I'm not completely certain, I think even the concept that one's role/gender in society and their perceived identity could even be different might not cross their mind at all. It doesn't seem to be a topic in the Qunari curriculum during upbringing or their "reeducation" programs. EzzyD (talk) 22:55, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

The Qunari accepting transgenders is just fan service. It's so out of character for the rigit Qun to allow men to do women's job and women to do men's job. User signature henioo henioo (da talk page) 23:44, August 25, 2015 (UTC)

I'd say further that the whole transgender thing actually existing in an essentially medieval world is a bit hard to fathom as well. Granted, people like that have likely always existed, but acceptance is still not a thing in a modern world based largely on science and reasoning; for it to be considered non-burn-at-the-stake worthy in a setting based on sectarian conflict and magical warfare, where education still appears to be a premium instead of a basic right kinda stretches the imagination a tad too far. EzzyD (talk) 00:50, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
Same thing with homosexuality. In a universe where having pointy ears is enough to be killed most brutally, being gay is okay. User signature henioo henioo (da talk page) 01:01, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
Well, there's nothing so far to suggest that being transgender in the DA universe is universally accepted, although I totally agree it seemed slightly out of line with other aspects we have come to recognise. I agree it is fan-service, but I've largely come to accept that they're mixing it up a bit. Yes, we have all the ingredients typical of a fantasy universe but the fact that it is a fantasy universe allows for things to be included that we usually don't find in common medieval-influenced games. I guess it's a way of BW adding their own flare to the series, now how much this resonates with players is totally dependent on who you are. For those who are really into medieval fantasy and/or are deeply vested in medieval based literature then I suppose it does stretch the imagination but I suppose those who are ambivalent towards the issue don't mind it at all, which probably forms the larger part of the fanbase. I'm with you on the 'pointy ears' bit; for a universe where race is a segregating, hatred-inducing factor whilst sexuality is treated as a cosmopolitan matter does stretch the 'imagination' quite a bit, but race seems to be a more dividing factor than sexuality in all fairness and race is certainly more apparent in the DA universe; it's more of an innate feature and forms the basis of somewhat of a social hierarchy in the game; same with mages. And let's be clear: Krem believes he is a man; he acts like one, he physically behaves like one; if anything he's a man performing a man's job. Now just because he is a man, doesn't mean he'd be put into a warrior based vocation, they could possibly put him in something else. I think fantasy is the key word here however; yes it's medieval-influenced, but they've added something else in it. I just guess sexuality isn't as big of an issue as other things. Whereas other fantasy RPG's succeed in adopting the social norms and values of the medieval period, I think DAI is pretty much a product/amalgamation of past and present social norms and values. I just see DA in a different light I guess as compared to different RPG epics. It's trying to adopt modern views in a medieval environment, though this juxtaposes against some barbaric norms and values that are typical in a medieval/less advanced world. Frankly, after DAI, I just see the DA-verse as its own thing; it just makes more sense that way. It somehow reduces the inconsistencies in the writing/world-building. Lazare326 01:49, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

Why would they care if you're gay? Aside from some people thinking it's digusting or unnatural, give me one reason why it would be a big issue. Unlike real life religions, no major religions in Thedas care about sex, so it isn't seen as sinful. Neither is hiring a prostitute. Why would they? Those issues never came up, or Andraste didn't care. Let's not forget that their messianic figure was a married woman with two children who became the bride of the Maker. She set a very different example than the Son of God and his virgin mother. They don't care what or who you do in the bedroom, but they don't have an institution that recognizes gay relationships either.

Dragon Age isn't medieval; it's high fantasy. It is based on medieval Europe, but Bioware made religious, cultural, biological and metaphysical changes. That makes it a different world with different ideals and values. I'd also point out that ancient Greece and Rome have several examples of homoeroticism in their culture. Some Native American cultures allowed trans people to choose the other gender role, so long as they didn't violate that gender role's norms. A lot of the LGBT stuff in DA does have a historical basis (not that it needs one, unless you argue that the existence of magic, Qunari, etc. also need a historical basis).

Does it make sense? Not to many people. However cultures often have things that seem like contradictions. For example, the US outlaws suicide and euthanasia, but practices the death penalty. I'm not arguing the validity of any viewpoint (especially not on this wiki) but couldn't outsiders see this as a contradiction of views regarding death? I think I would if I wasn't familiar with their politics. The point is it's easy to judge things like this from the outside, especially with a group like the Qunari, who are still very enigmatic.

Personally, I love that Bioware added a little unexpected depth and complexity to the Qun. It feels much more believable to me after talking to Bull. I wouldn't want to follow it, but they no longer seem as simple, bland, and unimaginative. And I'm not just talking about the trans acceptance. A culture has to have some freedoms. Without those, you just have the medieval Borg. (talk) 02:15, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

Why would they care if you're gay? You mean Qunari? Because homoSEXUALITY involves sexuality, and a perfect Qunari is asexual. Being gay or straight means you are attracted to people, and that is not the Qunari way. And if you mean Thedas in general, the same reason they would care if you're not human. Andraste didn't say "love thy neighbout but only if they are human". She freed the elves, elves were here followers. So why would the modern humans hate on elves and Qunari but not on gays? Why would Orlesians hate Fereldans simply because they were born this way, but not the gays? The universe of Dragon Age is really unrealistic. User signature henioo henioo (da talk page) 06:33, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
I apologize for not being more clear. I was referring to Thedas, not the Qunari when discussing homosexuality. I'm sure that homophobia exists in Thedas. I think most or all prejudices in real life exist in Dragon Age, but some aren't as rampant as others. With regards to homosexuality, there's simply no cultural, historical, or religious basis for it to become stigmatized that I can see. That doesn't mean that the whole world accepts same-sex love. As for Dorian's father, do we know that he isn't homophobic? Maybe he finds the idea of two men being together revolting, but doesn't want to be that blunt. IF that were true, he would not want to scare Dorian away forever.
And why wouldn't Qunari accept homosexuality? As long as you don't express romantic feelings with sex, a man could have romantic feelings for another man and occasionally visit a male tamassran for some sensual healing. Qunari are smart enough to understand that they have biological needs. (talk) 18:03, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
Stop comparing oranges and apples. Elves and Qunari are both hated for political reasons - elves are the people whose land the elves took, so they suffer the same prejudice indigenous people suffer in the Americas or aboriginal people in Australia, and after the second blight and the exalted march on the Dales hating elves was a way to make sure the "enemy" stayed down through racism. Qunari are hated because not only do people loathe looking at different people if history is anything to go by but they have an alien mindset and don't hide their intention to conquer Thedas violently from anyone. Orlesians and Fereldans dislike each other because of the Orlesian occupation and stark difference in culture because, again, people dislike different people. "The gays" as you put it haven't gone to war against anyone or created their own nation.--ssalgnikool (talk) 08:11, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
I'm not comparing "oranges and apples". I am comparing our world to the world of Dragon Age. You said it yourself, "people dislike different people", and somehow there is no homophobia in Thedas whilst racism runs rampant. That there are no homophobes (including Dorian's father, as he only wanted his son to have a child, he didn't hate the sexuality) is strange and there is no other way about it. User signature henioo henioo (da talk page) 09:23, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
Except you are comparing oranges and apples. You can tell whether someone is a Qunari by looking at them. Orlesians have an entire culture that has little in common with Ferelden other than Andrastianism, with the most obvious example being the Game. Gay/bi/etc people in Thedas do not have their own culture to speak of and don't have any visual differences from straight people, thus they are far less likely to draw people's attention. But where did you get that homophobia isn't a thing in Thedas? Gamlen makes homophobic comments if a male Hawke romances Fenris or Anders and treats it as fantasy material if a female Hawke romances Isabela, Anders is a lot less forward about his interest in a male Hawke than he is in female ones, Zevran considers his own bisexuality a byproduct of his less than wholesome upbringing. Most cultures simply treat it as something to be done behind closed doors that shouldn't interfere on heterosexual marriage, which is actually pretty common across history. Only the Orlesians explicitly treat it as a nonissue (and even there, depending on your social standing, you have to entertain heterosexual relationships. See Celene being a lesbian and still having an affair with Cailan and stringing suitors along).--ssalgnikool (talk) 09:48, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

Suicide is only technically illegal. No one ever gets arrested for attempted suicide, they get sent to a hospital. It's basically just a blue law - something put on the books for religious reasons but not strictly enforced.

Anyway, not all of Thedas is the same. Tevinter is clearly not okay with trans people. It's unclear what the Chantry's stance is, but my guess is that it's: "we don't care, we have mages and elves to deal with." Imagine if aliens landed on Earth. Suddenly racism would become irrelevant - everybody would be too busy hating on the aliens to care. It's like that in Thedas. They don't really care about gender issues or sexuality, they have mages to hate. Silver Warden (talk) 04:25, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

Sten: Why are you here? Leliana: What do you mean? Sten: Women are priests, artisans, farmers or shopkeepers. None of them have any place in fighting. Leliana: I have no idea how to answer this... Sten: It is not done. There is no more to it. Leliana: Do you mean your people have no female mages or warriors? Sten: Of course not. Why would our women wish to be men? Leliana: What are you talking about? They don't wish to be men. Sten: They shouldn't. That can only lead to frustration. Leliana:, never mind. Let's drop this.

Dialouge between Sten and Lelianna. Notice the bolded part. It is preposterous to think that the society were everyone is born to an assigned role, partially dependant on their gender, would accept transsexuality. It is so idiotic that I have made it into my headcanon that the Iron Bull was only voicing his own personal opinions and not the opinions of the Qun. Caspoi (talk) 09:23, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

I like it when someone makes an argument based on the established DAverse's rules, lore and past dialogues (like the one above for example), and not trying to compare it to the real world. As far as I'm concerned, the writers are free to establish whatever world they want to - if they want a medieval setting with gay love, it's their right to do so. And it has been like that since the beginning of the series, so I'm not sure what's the rage about it still. Besides there are still examples of lack of acceptance towards any deviance from heterosexual/heteroromantic thinking (I specify the latter because I saw something nitpicking about "sexuality"), I mean it's enough to do Dorian's personal quest and we learn his father tried to change him with blood magic. If that's not lack of acceptance (for whatever reason) then I don't know what is.
As for Sten's and Leliana's conversation, he's not exactly wrong. It does lead to frustration, regardless if it's an inner conflict or a conflict with the world. But he doesn't say a female becoming a man is utterly wrong - it's just confusing and stupid as far as he's concerned. And that leads to my other point: I think to assume that Sten is the paragon of Qunari lore is a bit extreme. What I mean is, most people seem to refer to him and his words as the rules of the Qunari set in a stone. I know how rigid the Qunari thinking is, but honestly I doubt its people can't have at least somewhat differing opinions. Now whether they are allowed to voice their opinion in their homeland or if they can act on it, that's a different thing. But I can totally see a man raised to be a soldier having this mindset about women due to his upbringing and training (plus faint traces of personality). But based on this same argument, I can also see how Bull would also express his opinion (or even lie about it) for the same reasons. Either way it doesn't feel that out of place for me, whatever was the reason behind adding this snippet about transgenders. Liaison Shaw (talk) 10:11, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

Yup. Precisely, as explained before Sten really has an issue with a female taking on a man's role. Now, Krem isn't exactly a female. Plus, Sten and Iron Bull have differing personalities to say the least; the latter is somewhat of a maverick; I really wouldn't be surprised if both were explaining the same thing but express it in different ways. I think sometimes we tend to forget that even in Thedas, various cultures have differing opinions on sexuality and other social norms. That said, it's fantasy, of course BW are going to add their own flare to it. It only makes sense to. Plus, something different in a medieval-fantasy setting is welcomed as far as I am concerned. Lazare326 11:50, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
But "why would our women wish to be men" is very easily translated into an opinion on transsexual people. And while Sten is not necessarily correct on all qunari things he is far more orthodox than the Iron Bull is. Caspoi (talk) 18:32, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
It's possible Sten has never encountered a transgendered person before. Just because it's accepted under the Qun, doesn't mean it's common. Sten also referred to the Qunari act as "unpleasant", when clearly the Qunari a no qualms about sex. And Sten more or less calls a mage Warden a "beast", whereas Iron Bull is comfortable enough with them to sleep with one. And a Tevinter, at that. Silver Warden (talk) 20:18, August 26, 2015 (UTC)
The quote can easily be interpreted that way, but that doesn't mean that that interpretation is correct. To Sten, Gray Wardens and their allies are fighters, meaning they're all men. If a biological female wishes to be a Gray Warden, it means she is filling the role of a man, and should be treated as one. If Leliana dressed like a man, acted more masculine, and everyone referred to her as 'he' or 'him', Sten might have simply accepted it. But since she acted pretty girly and clearly identified as female, it meant that she didn't fit into any role he was familiar with, hence his confusion. Qunari allowing people to identify as the other gender is no more a retcon than Tallis, a female that fights. It seems odd to us, but the Qunari don't consider her role to require fighting, even though she often employs violence to get the job done. They just see things very differently than us. (talk) 20:22, August 26, 2015 (UTC)

After reading through the arguments, I'm well aware Bioware set up their own world with rules and laws and such because I am willing to bet if it were realistic homosexuality would be a lot less common seeing as the world is ravaged blight after blight, war after war, to the point the population probably couldn't keep up after the fact. It is shown that within the codex entry Sexuality in Thedas it seems homosexuality is more accepted after one's reproductive duties have been met. I'm not saying Trasngender is "wrong" or "right" I'm just pointing out how I don't understand the Qun accepting transgenders because literally after the big reveal on Krem, Bull told Cassandra she couldn't hit him right and this is why women weren't allowed in the military* beyond that I would argue that Sten and Bull represent two different types of people within the Qun. Sten being the more conservative of the two and Bull being the more liberal. As Gaider once said, the Qunari are like the Islam over at the Middle East. The reason liberal Christianity is more accepting of LGBT rights than Muslims is because Islam hasn't gone through a Renaissance of sorts. I would argue that Bull is a reformer while Sten is a ...keeper? I dunno, but honestly I enjoy seeing the discussions here. Dabuddah 00:42, August 30, 2015 (UTC)

If you re-read the comments, a lot of the things you bring up again, are actually answered. And I don't think Christianity has really gone through a Renaissance, unless you're referring to the Reformation, which was anything but a religious renaissance. Of course, you must be talking about the renaissance that occurred in the arts, which barely effected Christian morals and views on sexuality. Anyways, sorry, that has nothing to do with this, just got carried away. Although, understand, context matters a lot. Liberal Christians, who are largely apathetic to LGBT issues rather than 'accepting', are products of their context in the Western World whereas Christians who happen to live in Islamic contexts in the Middle-East and Southern Asia are much more different; but let's not pretend there aren't fundamentalists of both faiths even here in the West; neither faith largely accepts homosexuals/transexuals with open arms. Regardless, I see this as being applicable in some ways to Sten and Iron Bull. Whilst Sten is a pure product of his home, Bull is a maverick who has experienced different cultures; he's almost cosmopolitan in his views whereas Sten experiences a rather dramatic culture shock, so your argument has some merit. That said, the distinction has already been made; Cassandra is clearly a woman. Krem is not. What Bull says to Cassandra in no way negates what he says about Krem. Lazare326 01:26, August 30, 2015 (UTC)