Close to 10 years after its original release, Rockstar has quietly removed a handful of characters and jokes from Grand Theft Auto 5 that critics have described as harmful stereotypes of transgender people.
As first reported by Ars Technica, GTA community members have noted various changes to the remastered version of GTA 5 available on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S. They include characters labeled as “drag queens” no longer spawning outside Cockatoos in addition to having dialogue removed.
Over on Reddit, another user noted that a Captain Spacetoy with “interchangeable genitalia” has been cut.
In new-gen GTAV/GTAO, Rockstar appear to have disabled the trans caricatures or “drag queens” from spawning outside Cockatoos. This could be following a plea from OutMakingGames last year. I hope this provides comfort to anyone who felt these NPCs depicted harmful stereotypes 🏳️⚧️
— Kirsty Cloud (@kirstycloud) April 8, 2022
As community members have pointed out, the changes follow an open letter from Out Making Games asking Rockstar Games to remove the content, which was described as transphobic as far back as the original release in 2013. A follow-up article on Kotaku also called for the removal of the content in the new-gen releases.
In the wake of the changes, Out Making Games said it was “thrilled” by the removal of the content.
IGN reached out to Rockstar for comment on the changes but have not received a response.
Last year we wrote an open letter to @Rockstar, calling on them to remove transphobic content from GTA 5’s next gen release. We’re thrilled to say that they have. Thank you to everyone at Rockstar who prioritized this issue. https://t.co/JnPtufcBZq
— OutMakingGames (@OutMakingGames) April 18, 2022
This is not the first time that Rockstar has opted to remove controversial content. The Confederate Flag was removed from certain locations in Grand Theft Auto 5 back in 2015, where it was replaced with the American flag.
GTA 5 released on PS5 and Xbox Series X|S in March, bringing with it significantly enhanced load times and other enhancements. Rockstar also quietly announced GTA 6, with more to be revealed at a later date.
Kat Bailey is a Senior News Editor at IGN as well as co-host of Nintendo Voice Chat. Have a tip? Send her a DM at @the_katbot.