This story contains spoilers for the Aug. 6 2017 episode of Game of Thrones.
In last night’s episode of HBO’s violent fantasy series Game of Thrones, a longstanding character known as Brienne of Tarth seemed to almost come out as transgender. When Brienne’s squire Podrick Payne refers to Brienne as “a lady,” Brienne responds, “I’m not a —,” but stops short of finishing the sentence.
Readers have pointed out that “lady” in the show’s context refers to a title of nobility and Brienne has repeatedly pointed out to Podrick that they are not a lady. However, the statement could still be interpreted as a nod towards Brienne not identifying with female gender.
But is Brienne really a transgender character on Game of Thrones?
It seems more likely that Brienne is agender or a gender non-conformist, but online commenters have wondered.
In Season 3, episode 6 (“The Climb”) Brienne looks very uncomfortable when forced to wear a woman’s gown to dinner (video below) — the character obviously prefers men’s clothes and wants to be a knight, a traditionally male role in the show.
Though Brienne also seemingly has feelings for Jamie Lannister, a male character in the show, Brienne doesn’t fit the definition of a trans person because Brienne has never identified as male.
Nevertheless, we’re certainly not the first to wonder about Brienne’s gender. Reddit threads have commented on the character’s discomfort with societal gender roles though it’s entirely possible that Brienne is just gender non-conforming.
If Brienne is transgender (or even just agender or non-binary), it would make Brienne the show’s only openly trans character and would cement their place in the Game of Thrones fandom as one of its few openly LGBTQ characters.
Brienne started out as a protector of the show’s only gay king
The only surviving child of the Tarth family, Brienne’s muscular strength and tallness made them a stand-out among women in the show’s fictional continental setting of Westeros. The stoic, battle-loving Brienne never married and was sometimes disparagingly referred to as Brienne the Beauty, even as they dreamed of one day becoming a knight.
Brienne first appeared in the show during Season 2 as a fierce fighter who wins a male-dominated dueling tournament among the warriors serving closeted gay king Renly Baratheon. In the tournament, Brienne beats Baratheon’s secret boyfriend, Ser Loras Tyrell, and then requests to join Baratheon’s kingsguard, a group known as “The Rainbow Guard” whose sole duty it is to protect the king from harm at all times.
It doesn’t go so well, as Baratheon gets murdered by a magical shadow wraith while Brienne helplessly watches. However, Brienne goes on to become one of the show’s most beloved and loyal character. They later pledge loyalty to the Stark family, a family of monarchs beset by betrayal as they fight to bring justice and honor to the murderous realm of Westeros.
Brienne is also one of the show’s most beloved and skilled warriors
After Brienne’s near admission last night, fans of the show got to see Brienne face-off against Arya Stark, the youngest Stark daughter who basically went off for a season to train as a deadly ninja.
Here’s last night’s fight scene between Arya and Brienne:
Game of Thrones has also featured a few other bisexual characters — namely sea-faring captain Yara Greyjoy, vindictive widow Ellaria Sand and her showboating (and now deceased) husband Prince Oberyn Martell. It doesn’t end so well for them or for most characters in the violent fantasy series.