Ditto is an LGBTQ+ Pokemon icon, it’s true, and we’ve got the receipts

Here at PinkNews we have waxed lyrical many times about how queer Pokémon is, and the endlessly loyal LGBTQ+ fan base it enjoys.

Now, in honour of Pokémon Day 2024, we’re turning our attention to one specific character we think exemplifies the wonder, variety and joy of what it means to be LGBTQ+.

Since it entered the gaming scene in 1996, the multi-media empire has been awash with queer-coded content. Think of Team Rocket’s Jessie and James, a pair of cross-dressing, campy baddies who always pulled off fabulous costumes. Or consider the ice Pokémon Jynx, who oozes drag couture and typifies mother energy.

Maybe even look at Blanche, the ultra-cool and collected Team Mystic leader from Pokémon Go who uses they/them pronouns.

Be it the escapism, the nostalgia, or the sense of community between fans, for more than a quarter of a century, its colourful, relatively innocent world has deeply connected with LGBTQ+ folks. If you are so inclined, we have even written about what your favourite Pokémon says about the type of queer person you are.

To celebrate Pokémon Day, which takes place every year on 27 February and marks the date of the original 1996 release of the Red and Green versions on Game Boy in Japan, we will be taking a closer look at Pokémon’s amorphous legend, Ditto.

Who’s that Pokemon? It’s Ditto! 

Ditto was first introduced in Japan, 1996. (The Pokemon Company)

Ditto was introduced to the franchise in Generation I, in the initial set of Pokémon games released in Japan in 1996 and is #0132 in the original list of #0151 Pokémon, which includes characters such as Pikachu and Mewtwo. 

With blob-like form, dot eyes and line mouth – almost always set in a smile – Ditto’s design is one of the most simplistic in the Pokémon world. According to Game Freak developers Junichi Masuda and Ken Sugimori, Ditto’s design was based on the smiley emoticon.

Across the franchise, Dittos have been shown to generally be light purple or pink, with shiny variants a blue colour. 

Since its first appearance, Ditto has featured in every main Pokémon title, as well in Pokémon Go, Pokémon Snap and the Pokémon Mystery Dungeon.

Most people, however, will probably remember Ditto from its first appearance in the Pokémon anime in 1998 which was a key feature of Pokémania in the late 90s, alongside the video games and trading cards.  

In episode 37 of the first series, Ditto’s Mysterious Mansion, Ash, Misty and Brock shelter from the rain in a large house where they meet trainer Duplica, who hopes to one day become a “Ditto Master”.

The gang learns about Ditto’s ability to transform into any Pokémon but it turns out Duplica’s Ditto struggles to transform its face. 

Ditto is subsequently kidnapped by Team Rocket, who plan to transform it into a Dratini, which they can give it to their boss Giovanni to impress him. But the terrific trio, along with Duplica, rescue our hero, who learns how to transform correctly in the process. 

Ditto also played a key role in the 2019 live-action film: Detective Pikachu.

Why is Ditto an LGBTQ+ favourite?

Some people might not like the idea, but Ditto has always been inherently queer. (The Pokémon Company International)

First off, let’s talk about the fact that Ditto is genderless. While this bit of information is likely to outrage bigots, there are lots of animal species in real life which do not have genders or distinct sexes: worms, starfish and various types of snails come to mind.

In fact, lots of animals naturally display queer behaviour, including penguins raising chicks in same-sex pairings, and male bearded dragons developing female brains. It should not be too much of a leap of faith to see that Pokémon can also feature such traits.

Furthermore, as we mentioned, Dittos come in shades of pink, purple and blue. When you put those colours together, what flag do they form part of? Yes, the genderfluid flag.

Genderqueer! Genderfluid! Gender non-conforming! Genderless!

This leads on to the next point: Ditto can breed with any Pokémon.

Bulbapedia, the Pokémon encyclopedia, states: “Ditto is well known for its unique ability to breed with any Pokémon other than the Pokémon in the No Eggs Discovered group and other Ditto, including some gender-unknown Pokémon, to produce eggs of the other’s species.”

Pansexual, right?

Finally, Ditto has the ability to transform into any Pokémon and anything, which is pretty queer.

This unassuming, little pink blob can turn itself into a Jigglypuff, Metagross or the god-like Arceus. There is something inherently queer about transforming yourself into whatever presentation you want in order to be your most authentic self, as well as helping overcome people’s expectations of you.

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