In the Pokémon video games, there is rarely ever a reason not to fully evolve a Pokémon to its strongest evolutionary form, if looking at Pokémon as functional creatures with stats and utility as most players do. You might leave a Vigoroth unevolved to avoid dealing with Slaking’s alternate skipped attack turns, delay evolution so a creature can learn a move at an earlier level, or leave a Dragonair unevolved because you don’t like Dragonite’s design visually, but in most situations, most players will evolve their Pokémon as soon as the option becomes available.
However, by comparison, the Pokémon anime has basically since its inception had a much more emotionally driven attitude toward Evolution, viewing it more directly as a form of metamorphosis. Evolution is a pretty fundamental change for a Pokémon to go through, physically and emotionally, and sometimes Pokémon and their trainers need to take time to assess if evolution is right for them, or not, at a given point in time.
Sure, a Pokémon could grow larger, physically stronger, and develop along a predetermined “natural” path, as likely imagined and hoped for by their trainer, but sometimes those changes are unwanted, and that’s a conversation the Pokémon series has more than once dived into exploring across its 25 year runtime, in ways that have increasingly begun to mirror real world discussions of ensuring trans youth can access appropriate medical care when needed.
For most of you, the most familiar example of this is Pokémon Season 1, Episode 14, Electric Shock Showdown, in which series protagonist Ash Ketchum arrives at the Vermillion City Gym, run by Electric type Gym LEader Lt Surge, and his star Pokémon, Raichu, the evolved form of Ash’s starter, Pikachu.
To oversimplify the episode, Ash is super eager to go and fight Surge for his gym badge ASAP, due to a recent run of misfortune leaving the trainer feeling inadequate. Pikachu is anxious about fighting the gym leader, having seen the devastating injuries sustained by other Pokémon sent to battle the Gym Leader, but Ash ignores Pikachu’s uncertainty, and pushes him to fight anyway.
Ash in this episode, honestly, has very “theatre mum” energy. We’ve got to go do the big competition sweetie. I know you’re scared, and don’t really want to do this, but I feel inadequate because other trainers make fun of me, so I need you to go kick ass and show them how great I am.
Ash has his own self worth tied up in Pikachu’s combat proficiency, which importantly sets the stage for the conflict that is to come.
Lt Surge’s main role as an antagonist in this story is to stoke feelings of inadequacy in both Ash, and Pikachu, as it relates to their physical forms and raw strength. Surge is a model example of physical strength and stereotypical masculinity, referring to Ash as a baby, and infantalising Pikachu for not becoming stronger, more masculine, the Raichu that all Pikachu’s are “meant to” grow into being. It forces Pikachu to confront if he’s happy being a Pikachu, and places the temptation to evolve Pikachu into Ash’s mind, as a solution to his feelings of being lesser than his opponent.
However, even at this first visit, Ash clearly has some understanding that Pikachu should have agency over evolution. As much as Ash might eventually become conflicted on the matter, he makes sure to let Pikachu know early that he will be supported if staying a Pikachu is what is right for him.
“If you want to be a Pokémon master, you should make your Pokémon evolve as soon as you catch it”
“There’s more to raising a Pokémon than forcing it to evolve, and I like this Pikachu just the way it is”
Surge’s Raichu very much wipes the floor with Pikachu in the pair’s first battle, but what is important to observe is Pikachu’s level of determination to win the fight. He wants to prove he can win against a Raichu. He wants to prove he’s good enough, just the way he is, and not lesser for not having evolved.
It’s back at the Pokémon centre where, perhaps most fittingly, Nurse joy brings up the idea of using a thunder stone to induce evolution, essentially initiating a puberty analogous process in a medical context.
Somewhat of a recurring theme in the Pokémon anime’s stories about Pokémon rejecting evolution, Ash isn’t necessarily wanting to force Pikachu to evolve into a Raichu, it’s more that he never really considered an alternative future for his Pokémon. Pokémon evolve, that’s just what they do. Pikachu was Ash’s very first Pokémon, his ace, his top competitive edge. Ash had put a huge amount of his hopes and dreams into a very specific idea of who his Pokémon was going to grow up to be, and displays a brief mix of anger and sadness at the prospect that the future he envisioned for Pikachu might not come to pass.
In many ways, Ash emotionally mimics the parents of LGBT kids coming out. A mix of emotions are felt, that at their core are turmoil at the idea of re-examining the future that someone might choose for themself differing from expectations. Ash always pictured himself eventually having a Raichu as his main partner Pokéon, and Pikachu not evolving would mean re-evaluating what he and his Pokémon’s relationship was going to be.
However, as Brock, Misty, and Nurse Joy all stand around discussing whether or not Pikachu should be evolved by Ash, it’s one exchange in particular I think that causes Ash to pause, and evaluate the situation playing out around him.
“You’ve got to think hard before using the thunder stone”, nurse joy says
Misty replies “If you make Pikachu evolve ash, you can’t change it back”
It’s at this moment that Ash seems to realise something hugely important. These changes to Pikachu’s physical body are going to be permanent, and everyone in that hospital room is talking past Pikachu, about Pikachu, over Pikachu, as though Pikachu isn’t even there in the room.
Much like parents and doctors discussing healthcare outcomes for a trans teen without asking their own opinion, Ash recognises in this moment that the person whose input is most important in this discussion is Pikachu himself. While using the thunderstone on Pikachu might help Ash achieve his own goal of defeating Lt Surge, forcing unwanted physical changes on someone in your care is not okay.
Ash asks, “Pikachu, what do you want to do?”
Even though Ash’s gut instinct is to go ahead with the evolution, he is the first person to stop and ask what Pikachu wants.
“I really wanna beat that surge, but I also don’t want to force you to evolve if you’d be happier staying the way you are now”
Pikachu seems to consider for a moment, before literally hitting the thunder stone out of Ash’s hand by force.
We might not understand the words, but Pikachu’s speech at Ash has defiance in its tone. Pikachu really doesn’t want this, and it wants Ash to understand that it never wants evolution to be forced upon it. It actively objects to the bodily changes being presented to it.
Team Rocket are outside the room, spying on their conversation. Meowth cries, and speaks of Pikachu’s bravery, translating as best it can.
“Pikachu won’t change. If it’s going to beat the Raichu, it wants to do it just as it is. It’s gonna fight in the name of all Pikachu”
Ash takes Pikachu’s hands, and says they’ll beat Raichu together. Thunder stone discarded, he’s gonna support Pikachu’s choice not to evolve.
Brock and Misty call Ash crazy, suggesting using a different Pokémon to battle Surge if Pikachu won’t evolve. Ash stands up for Pikachu, making it clear that he respects his Pokémon’s right to autonomy.
Of course the queer coded Team Rocket fully support Pikachu staying a Pikachu, crying at the beauty of the moment. They even come back in disguise shortly after to cheer Pikachu on for its bravery ahead of the match.
Now, the specifics of how Pikachu wins the rematch with Raichu are less important than the narrative tone of the rematch. What is at stake is essentially proving that all kinds of bodies have their own benefits, and things that make them wonderful. Pikachu isn’t lesser for not evolving into a Raichu, merely different.
Now, I started this essay by suggesting that I was going to show there is canonical evidence in the Pokémon anime that Ash Ketchum would be a supporter of giving trans teens access to puberty delaying medication. While this season 1 episode is worth discussing, it does show Ash demonstrating an early respect for bodily autonomy that indirectly serves as a metaphor for respecting trans rights, it’s a bit of a clunky metaphor that lacks direct comparability.
Ash isn’t buying Pikachu time to not evolve for now so he can if he chooses later, but he is respecting Pikachu’s right not to go through physical changes that he doesn’t want to.
Ash respects bodily autonomy around a person’s right to object to physical body changes, even if everyone else in society thinks it’s ridiculous not to go through the changes because everyone else does and is happy about it.
It’s useful background context, but here is where I want to shift to talking about some Pokémon episodes you may not have seen, alongside discussing the concept of Puberty Blockers, and Everstones.
So, to start off by clearing up some misconceptions, puberty blockers are a reversible medication given both to people whose puberty starts prematurely, as well as to trans people who wish to prevent physical changes to their body during the waiting period while being assessed by doctors, and waiting to be permitted to access hormone replacement therapy to initiate a puberty that is right for them.
In the case of trans teenagers, who are often not legally able to begin HRT until adulthood, puberty blockers are a way of preventing hard to reverse physical changes from occurring. Put simply, if a trans person knows they don’t want to go through a testosterone based puberty, but have a 4 year wait before they can be prescribed oestrogen, puberty blockers are a means of buying time. If the teen decides during that time that they have changed their mind about transition, they can come off of puberty blockers, and resume their original puberty without issue.
Puberty blockers, while often villainised by anti trans hate groups, are in essence a pause button on puberty. They are reversible, but allow respite from unwanted physical changes.
By comparison, the Everstone is an item in both the Pokémon games, and Anime, that serves a very similar purpose. When held, the Everstone prevents a Pokémon from evolving via trade, evolution stone, and most crucially prevents evolution by levelling up until the stone is removed. It is reversible, with evolution able to be initiated if the Everstone is removed, but allows a Pokémon the freedom to not have to worry about accidentally evolving every single time it levels up, if it doesn’t want to.
Level up evolution is basically the most apt metaphor we have in Pokémon for gender transition, and Eevee as a Pokémon is a perfect discussion case, as it will naturally evolve on its own over time in most cases if nobody makes an attempt to intervene. If you leave an Eevee to level up on its own, it’ll become an Umbreon, Espeon, or Sylveon, depending on whether it evolves in the day, night, or with a certain friendship level. When left to naturally grow, isolated from any outside forces, these are the physical forms an Eevee will grow into.
But, when playing the Pokémon video games, you can stop that evolution for a while with an everstone if you’re unsure what evolution is right for your Eevee, or if none of the level up natural options are the right fit.
The everstone buys your Eevee time to decide whether or not it wants to evolve by level up, a process that cannot be undone if nature acts on its own.
At a later time, you could remove the everstone, letting Eevee evolve by level up as it would naturally, or give it an elemental stone to become one of its five other evolutionary forms, analogous to giving a trans person HRT to allow them to go through a different puberty.
So, I have made the case that Everstones make sense as a puberty blocker metaphor, but I have not yet shown any direct evidence that Ash would support the use of Everstones. So, let’s get into discussing all of the Everstone episodes of Pokémon that I think demonstrate Ash’s support for this held item as a reversible way to avoid irreversible physical development changes.
In the Diamond and Pearl: Galactic Battles episode Stopped in the name of Love, Dawn’s Piplup is trying to avoid evolution by sheer force of will. The problem is, you can’t prevent evolution, or puberty, forever by force of will. Trying to stop it happening will just cause pain and suffering.
Dawn is prepping for a competition, but Piplup is too exhausted to train, due to all the time it has been spending trying to prevent its body from changing. It’s been exhausted by trying to deal with unwanted evolution occurring, and that has put a strain on its performance in daily life.
As someone who was at one point myself a trans teen dealing with an unwanted puberty, I can certainly empathise with Piplup here. For piplup, it’s using Bide over and over. For me, it was staying up late plucking my facial hair with tweezers, and crying about the way my voice was getting deeper over time. It’s working yourself to exhaustion, trying to fight the approach of the seemingly inevitable.
Dawn is aware Piplup has been “acting strangely for a while”. Evolution, like puberty, can be a stressful time when it’s physical changes you do not want to go through..
Piplup keeps insisting they’re okay. They’re very clearly hiding how much they are struggling, and the source of their discomfort, from Dawn. They don’t want to admit their struggle, presumably in case Dawn tries to talk them into evolving, or doesn’t get why Piplup wouldn’t want to evolve.
Then we see Pokémon trainer Barry, who has an Empoleon, Piplup’s final evolutionary stage.
Upon seeing this Empoleon, Piplup panics, and starts evolving again, and has to emotionally mash B yet again to manually prevent themself evolving. This is 1000% analogous to how I felt as a teen whenever the idea of becoming “manly” came up.
“Oh fuck, please no, I’d really like to avoid that at all costs, that’s the nightmare and it’s on its way, and I can’t prevent it”
Piplup literally uses bide to not evolve. Biding its time, trying to not evolve. This might be a stretch on my part perhaps, but I couldn’t stop thinking during this episode about the verbal similarities to binding, the term for when many trans men and non binary individuals with breast related dysphoria attempt to flatten the shape of their chest using tight torso compression, sometimes to the point of injury.
Trying to physically prevent physical changes from happening is a losing battle, but one that I think Piplup’s painful rejection of evolution parallels emotionally.
Piplup’s attempts at forcefully avoiding evolution have clearly been going on for a while, and ultimately lead to Piplup being hospitalised. Despite the signs, Dawn is somewhat oblivious to what is happening, discussing her excitement on Piplup’s behalf on their first night in the hospital together.
“I’ll have a prinplup soon, I’m starting to get really psyched”.
Much like Ash in the Season one episode with Pikachu and the thunderstone, Dawn is excited about the expected path of growth she has envisioned for her Piplup, even in the face of Piplup having ended up putting themself in the hospital.
She’s blinded to the idea piplup would rather risk hospitalisation than evolve. In this regard, she’s like a parent who can’t seem to see the obvious cues that her child is trans, and wants to avoid going through their expected puberty path.
Piplup finds themself alone briefly in their hospital room at night, staring at their own reflection in the mirror, imagining themselves as a Prinplup, and hating the thought. A clear analogue for nights I spent growing up, hoping I could be granted some universal wish to avoid everything Puberty was threatening me with.
Dawn comes in offering food. Piplip turns down food, it doesn’t feel up to eating.
Dawn starts going on and on about how exciting the start of evolution is, projecting her excitement onto her Pokémon. She’s excited for Piplup to evolve, and most Pokémon are excited when the time comes, so she barrels forward, ignoring anything that doesn’t line up with her expectations.
Piplup panics, and tries to explain that he doesn’t want to evolve.
Dawn doesn’t really listen, responding that it’s natural to be nervous about evolution.
She’s like that parent of a trans kid who, when the kid tries to come out, tries to downplay their anxiety. This is probably just standard puberty nerves, you’ll be fine when it happens, not taking seriously that this might be more intense feelings than most experience, or that Piplup might genuinely not want these to happen to their body.
“It’s fine, I’m going to be right there with you, okay?”
Piplip continues to protest.
Dawn tries to reassure, then tries to force piplup to “calm down”. Then, when Evolution starts again, Dawn tells Piplup to just relax and go along with it rather than respect Piplup’s desire not to.
Compared to our original example of Ash and Pikachu, Dawn is a lot less attentive of Piplup’s agency and emotional state, and poses a much less positive initial response to the idea of non-evolution being a viable life choice.
Piplup continues to resist.
Dawn tries to insist that evolving would be good. This is largely about utility, you’d be able to do so many new things in life, so many practical doors would open if you just let yourself evolve like I expect of you.
“Then we’ll be able to win more contests, and…”
Piplup sours at this, physically pushing Dawn’s hands away.
Piplup literally runs away from the hospital, feeling unsupported and misunderstood by Dawn.
Brock is the first member of the main trio to realise what’s up. He recognises this has been going on for a while. He was around for Pikachu not wanting to evolve back in the day. Ash asks no questions, he understands completely what is happening. This is not his first experience of a Pokémon being happy the way they are, and wanting to avoid the physical changes that come with evolution.
Even with Ash and Brock catching up, Dawn doesn’t properly understand Piplup’s experience. Much like a non trans parent who hasn’t taken the time to understand their child’s lived experience, Dawn multiple times catches up to Piplup, but rather than seeking understanding merely tries to talk Piplup into feeling differently about a fundamental aspect of identity, stalling the conversation.
Dawn and Piplup eventually start to talk things out, but not without some dramatic situations forcing a change of pace. At one point Piplup protects dawn from multiple simultaneous hyper beams, while using bide to resist evolution at the same time. The amount of strength Piplup displays makes it clear to dawn just how important this is to her Pokémon.
The pair sit down by a river, and reflect back on the day they first met. It was a very similar day to today, with a similar escape as a pair from a swarn of Ariados. It was the day Dawn chose Piplip, and the day Piplup chose Dawn in response. It was a formative experience for the small blue penguin Pokémon, and one that was formative for its sense of identity.
It was a Piplup when they met, and that’s who it wants to remain. Physical changes will change their dynamic in ways Piplup finds deeply upsetting.
While Team Rocket appear in this episode, and briefly attempt to kidnap Piplup and Empoleon, the most interesting part of their story in the episode is their repeated support for the idea of a Pokémon choosing not to evolve.
Meowth cries at the beautiful story of Piplip wanting to stay a Piplip. Dawn accepts that this is who Piplup is going to be, even if it’s not what she had imagined. James advocates for Piplup not evolving, and Jesse says Piplup can evolve “if it wants to”, but certainly isn’t here to force that on the creature.
Ash steps in to fight team rocket, so Piplup can focus on not evolving undisturbed.
The episode ends with an inversion of the Season One episode where Nurse Joy brought Ash and Pikachu the thunderstone, instead presenting Dawn and Piplup with an Everstone. This, in our analogy, is a positive supportive nurse at a gender identity clinic, providing a trans teen access to puberty blockers.
Nurse Joy and Dawn presenting Piplup with the everstone is presented as a celebratory moment, a joyous occasion, and an obvious solution to lessen Piplup’s ongoing suffering.
While Piplup NEVER evolves in the series, if it wanted to, it certainly could. This is not a permanent change if Piplup doesn’t want it to be, but it takes away the constant distress at a set of physical changes that are desperately unwanted.
The last main series episode I want to discuss is the Sun and Moon: Ultra Legends episode No Stone Unturned.
In this episode we meet Hau, a Pokémon trainer who has a Dartrix, the evolved form of Rowlet, a starter Pokemon for the new region that Ash has on his team.
Rowlet gets to meet Dartrix, who tries to preen Rowlet, making it more “image correct”, the way a Dartrix would want to present itself, according to the Pokédex.
Rowlet doesn’t care about the same things that, as a general rule of thumb, a Dartrix is meant to care about. The desire to preen is literally a stereotyped behaviour, like gendered stereotypes in our world, something that you’re supposed to want when your body changes and you become your next evolutionary stage.
This episode revisits a lot of themes initially seen in other episodes we have discussed, largely around the idea that a Pokémon is functionally better by default if it evolves. Again, much like the original season Lt Surge episode, Rowlet wants to fight Dartrix even after losing in battle. It once again wants to prove that it can achieve its goals, while not following the physical development path expected of it.
However, this is where this episode sort of diverges from the first two we discussed, showing some marked growth and development from Ash as a trainer.
In this story, the idea of Rowlet evolving doesn’t really come up that much, and when it does it’s not really a huge deal.
Ash and Rowlet want to get stronger and defeat Dartrix, but never suggest using evolution to make that happen. They go out to the woods to try and teach Rowlet a new attack, settling on teaching it Bullet Seed, a move the Pokémon traditionally cannot learn.
Through a series of hijinks, Rowlet does learn the move, but in an untraditional way. Rowlet swallows an everstone, spitting it out to attack, then swallowing it afterward to keep for later.
Rowlet doesn’t seek out the Everstone out of any knowing desire to avoid evolution, it’s just a nice rock that Rowlet enjoys having on its person. Rowlet’s happier with it than without.
Ash briefly panics at first and tries to force Rowlet to spit up the stone, not because he’s necessarily opposed to Rowlet not evolving, but because Rowlet seems to have unintentionally consumed the stone, seemingly unaware of its utility. Ash doesn’t want this everstone inside Rowlet forever, in case his Pokémon later wants to evolve, but can’t, and it’s too late to get the stone to leave its body.
Rowlet bullet seed fires the verstone, then swallows it right back up. IIt seems super happy to have this cool projectile, and keep eating it back up.
For ash, once it’s clear that Rowlet is happy to have the Everstone, and can get rid of it any time it chooses, Ash basically asks zero questions, and makes no effort to force Rowlet to give the stone up. He’s at peace with the idea of Rowlet never evolving, and knows it can make the choice to evolve later if it wishes.
Ash doesn’t make a big deal of this Everstone. He recognises Rowlet’s right to bodily autonomy, and doesn’t make Rowlet’s choice about himself, a real sign of growth.
Now, the final Pokémon story I want to discuss is a little different, as it doesn’t feature Ash Ketchum at all, and is perhaps the only story in the Pokémon series to provide an analogue for the idea of someone starting puberty blockers, then later deciding to stop taking them, and that also being okay, and a valuable way someone might incorporate an everstone into their life for a brief period.
The Pancham Who Wants to Be a Hero, a ten min animation that’s part of a series of animated shorts drawn in varied styles, tells the story of a Pancham training to be strong, wearing an everstone around its neck like a necklace.
It idolises an arcanine, wearing a necklace of some kind, that looks like a fire stone on a necklace maybe. The implication of the story is that in the past Pancham was saved bu a big, strong, evolved Pokémon, and while that was the catalyst for Pancham wanting to train up to be a hero too, it’s also tied into the reason Pancham wears its everstone, and wants to avoid evolution as a route to heroism.
Pancham has anxiety about evolution, rooted in complex feelings about growing up, and change. It’ll become a Pangoro when it evolves, but as a child all of its friends were scared of a Pangoro, presumably its parent. It doesn’t want to grow into something that others feel scared of, that seems unsafe. Even if our hero Pancham is sweet, caring, and harmless, as a Pangoro it might still scare people with its presence.
Pancham wants to be a hero, so he’s going to train to be strong enough, even without evolution.
As the short progresses, we’re introduced to a trainer who went on a perilous journey to try and capture this specific Pancham. His family and friends live in a remote village, and their main route to the big city has been shut off by a cave in. the boy needs a small, but strong, Pokémon to help clear the rocks safely before his village runs out of food supplies, and he hopes Pancham can be that hero he needs.
After some convincing, Pancham decides to let the trainer catch him, becoming part of a trainer and Pokémon team like the Arcanine that saved him growing up.
The pair travels to the cave in, removing several rocks and making a small opening to the cave. An Impadimp escapes through the small opening, but is quickly threatened by a much larger falling rock, tumbling down from above the cave entrance. The impadimp can’t move due to an injured leg, and things are looking bad for this little panda hero.
Pancham thinks about not evolving, what if he becomes big and scary, and his trainer no longer wants to travel with him? But he gets past that fear, removes his Everstone, and evolves to grant himself power, to become the hero, no matter the cost
He trusts that evolving won’t make him scary needlessly. He’ll still be himself.
Once the cave entrance is unblocked, and everyone trapped is freed, there’s this moment where the rescued miners are all staring at the newly evolved Pangoro, with hard to read expressions on their faces.
Pangoro goes to walk away, but the miners, and the young trainer, applaud him instead.
Pangoro is given the kid’s blue bravery scarf, a symbol given to him by his father to help him feel brave. Evolving didn’t come with the negative consequences he had feared, and when he was ready, he was able to evolve at a time he felt comfortable with.
This was someone who just needed time to come to terms with evolution, and when he was ready it was available to him without issue
While this short story doesn’t directly relate to Ash, and his support of puberty blockers, it does again speak to the overall tone of Pokémon as a franchise, and how it views everstones in context.
Everstones are not necessarily forever. Sometimes, they are just a way to buy time. Sometimes, a pokemon will decide to let evolution take its course, without making any changes from what would have happened naturally without intervention.
Sometimes, like Pancham, teens do just need time, and will eventually decide to evolve as normal, and that time allows them to not rush that choice either way.
I know this is, at the end of the day, me seeing context and parallels that the creators of Pokémon likely never intended to exist, but I like to pretend that this show’s attitude toward everstones is indicative that in universe characters would support trans teens accessing puberty delaying medication, not only because of what the show means for me personally, but because of the show’s real world ties to trans status.
As an autistic trans kid, Pokémon was my first ever true hyperfixation. It was hugely influential in helping me to make friends as a child who struggled socially to connect with my peers, but it was also a show that at many moments gave me hope, as a kid growing up not knowing there was a name for the gender dysphoria I was experiencing.
That original season episode of Pokémon, about Pikachu wanting to be able to reject evolution, really stuck with me growing up, as a child who didn’t want to go through the physical changes I was told testosterone puberty would one day bring.
Pikachu was allowed to reject evolution. Ash was supportive, and so was Team Rocket. Pikachu was brave for making it known that it didn’t want to evolve, and it was still able to live a fulfilling and valuable life.
I didn’t know why that episode meant so much to me at the time, but in hindsight, it was one of the few stories growing up that gave me hope that, one day, I could be supported in choosing to reject testosterone based puberty, and take control over the form my body would take.
Additionally, the Pokémon anime was the first time I was ever aware that a trans woman has been a part of creating a work of art I deeply loved.
Maddie Blaustein, the English voice of Meowth from around episode 32 of the show, unfortunately passed away in 2008. Hers was a voice that was ever present in my childhood, delivering many emotional speeches that meant a lot to me as an in the closet trans child, even if they were clearly never written to have that interpretation in mind.
Prior to my learning that Meowth was voiced by a trans woman, I honestly had never been aware of any trans person, in any industry, with an admirable job, in a competitive industry, creating art that I found meaningful. Trans people existed in media as points of ridicule or disgust, but this was a character I loved, brought to life by someone like me.
Watching back over a show that was created in part by a trans person, and unintentionally told stories that felt resonant to me during my in the closet years, there’s a part of me that wants to believe that these comparisons are meaningful. Ash ketchum demonstrably respected rights to bodily autonomy, particularly around the right to choose to delay, or avoid, evolution using a mechanism that parallels real world treatment for trans youth.
I choose to believe Ash’s support for Pikachu rejecting the thunderstone, his support for Piplup wearing its Everstone, and his willingness to let Rowlet swallow an Everstone without questioning the reason behind that, all demonstrate that Ash would, if he existed in our world, have supported people like me, accessing the medication that I struggled to access myself when I was going through a puberty that wasn’t right for me.
Ash growing up meant a lot to me, and the idea he would have supported me getting the help I needed is a healing thought for my inner child.
Also, Pikachu is totally trans, PFFFT.