Sheik’s gender is one of the most heated topics of discussion when it comes to arguments in Zelda fandom. Some say that it’s simply Princess Zelda in disguise, and therefore Sheik is still technically female. Some would argue, however, that Zelda physically transforms herself into a man using magic, as opposed to simply putting on a costume.

“The definitive answer is that Sheik is a woman — simply Zelda in a different outfit.”

Polygon decided to contact Nintendo to settle this once and for all. In response, Senior Product Marketing Manager Bill Trinen quoted “Nintendo’s official line” on the subject, stating “The definitive answer is that Sheik is a woman — simply Zelda in a different outfit.”

Being an official response, it seems fair to suggest that this statement could be considered canon — though what counts as “canon” regarding the world of Ocarina of Time may still be disputed by some. The wonderful thing about the Zelda series, however, is that there is always plenty of room for our own interpretation. Has this finally cleared up a long-running debate for you, or do you choose to continue believing in your own version of Sheik?

  • The Doctor

    How was this ever even argued against? It’s always been plain. Sheik was just Zelda dressed up.

    • Davad

      A melee trophy, which is of course non-canon, claimed she used magic for the disguise. I don’t really care either way and am clad the debate is now over. I am perfectly content with Nintendo’s answer and, looking at only Zelda canon material, it really is the original and logical option.

      Oh and I get the reference you are. I’m a fan too.

      • eByTech

        Agreed; technically using magic to disguise still constitutes disguise, so since she is still Zelda she obviously is still female.

    • Anthony Moseley

      Agreed. Unless Zelda got some sort of magical gender change, I don’t know why people were so adamant towards Sheik being a male. It’s like the old adage says, “wearing a cowboy hat doesn’t make you a cowboy”. Dressing up like and calling herself a male doesn’t automatically turn Zelda into a male. Besides, it’s pretty clear from her HW design that the character is far more feminine than previous incarnations.

      Also, does anyone know why ZU’s filter is so strict? I used the words “s e x” and “h e l l b e n t” in my previous post and my comment had to be “moderated” (which typically means it will never be posted).

      • Nick

        i always kind of thought of zelda as kind of being gender fluid, you know? like she considered herself male when she was sheik.

        • Jeremy Wallace

          She didn’t consider herself male, she only dressed up like Sheik to stay alive.

          • Nick

            yes of course, we know that for a fact from the in game dialogue where she went over, “i dont consider myself male, link! womanly lady all the way. by the way i only have these neato ninja skills when im wearing a binder!”

          • KaelHyun

            She didn’t need to SAY anything. It’s pretty much implied with how Impa took Zelda into hiding to get away from Ganondorf. Woman have disguised themselves as men so they could participate in War LONG before LoZ.

  • Ivy Gal

    I burdens my mind that people still think Sheik is a different person…

  • Sydney Roesch

    I’ve always considered sheik to be female. With magic to help disguise or without. I compared the whole zelda in a costume much like how Disneys Mulan dressed to disquise herself as a man and changed her name.

  • B-rad

    I think it was more that fans of ocarina of time wanted to believe the text in the game as fact. lines from many characters in OOT suggest that sheik is in fact male but of course SHE is not. It just meant Zelda was a really good cross dresser haha

  • Merylas

    Well… I’m glad that someone took time to clarify this. I still don’t quite see how anyone that has played Melee/Brawl or OoT would have any doubt on it but… glad its clarified now.

  • smcrzgi

    i personally understood shiek as sort of both… in reality she is zelda, but the fiction that shiek is, that is the character zelda invented to hid herself is a male character….. doesnt change the fact that zelda as shiek is female…. but it alows for shiek to still be male in some sense….

    the official confirmation though is interesting… im wondering how they will explain Hyrule historia calling shiek a “he”….

    • Chad

      They could just be playing along with OoT and how they referred to Shiek as a guy. Personally, I don’t think it matters. Typos happen. Hyrule Historia may have been as factual as possible, but it was obviously written by people who don’t know much about the series. They messed up the medallion pictures as well. As factual as Hyrule Historia is supposed to be I think some of the lesser “facts” should be taken with a grain of salt.

      • smcrzgi

        i dunno… hyrule historia pretty consistantly calls shiek “he” soooo….. also, your saying that it was written by people who obviously dont know much about the series? you know aunoma over saw the project right? the medalions were for sure a typo though…..

        • Deva Ashera

          It may have been translated differently, they may have used gender neutral terms in the Japanese version that don’t exist in English.

          • smcrzgi

            possibly. i looked up glitterberry’s translation of the book, from before it was published. there is one spot where that may happen.

            so on page 87 it says that zelda disguised herself as a a shiekah boy… that part is consitant with glitterberry’s translation so im assuming zelda when she is disguised as shiek, is trying to be disguised as a shiekah boy.

            but on page 89, where in the official translation it says that as shiek, “he” revealed that “he” was actually zelda, glitterberry says this.

            “The leader of the sages was Princess Zelda, who bore the Triforceof Wisdom in her hand. Zelda had been waiting for this moment to
            reveal to Link that she was Sheik.”

            its a tad different there, so there may be some merit to what your saying. but the initial question as to whether zelda is disguising herself as a shiekah boy or girl seems to be implied that she is disguised as a dude. doesnt change zelda’s gender though. Shiek’s true gender is female, but the implied gender (that is part of the whole facade) is male. i dont think zelda uses magic to actually become male, (although magic does seem to be used to make her APPEAR more masculine….), and i think Bill trinin’s comments are more so about that…..

          • Deva Ashera

            Oh, yeah, its always been consistant that Zelda is disguising herself as a Sheikah Boy, but some people think she used magic to actually transform her body into that of a boy.

          • smcrzgi

            ah. I was always under the assumption that she used magic, but that the magic being used didnt turn her into an actual boy, or change any of her features, it just made her appear more masculine, and shiekah, and changed her clothing (sort of like a perception filter from Doctor Who)….

      • Jeremy Wallace

        People always seem to forget that the whole reason she even dressed up as Sheik was to stay alive. It was a disguise, seeing as you are Link they are trying to keep you in the dark like the rest of the characters. Kind of like how when you’re put into witness protection you have to keep it a secret from everyone, even your friends. It’s not a difficult concept.

    • Trinosaur

      In this sense, yeah, I would think of Sheik as “he.” It’s hard to explain this to people, but I know exactly what you mean.

    • Nick

      this is kind of how i always figured it

  • Chad

    Personally I never understood how people made the mistake of thinking Shiek was a girl. If you look at the eyes in this picture shiek is clearly a girl.

    http://www.wiizelda.net/gallery/albums/userpics/10001/normal_ocarina-of-time-3d-shiek.png

    The corners of the eyes are tilted up in a feminine way and the eyebrows are thin. I can sort of understand the breast issue and how people say she is flatter chested but that can be solved with the whole magic thing. Illusion magic is very common in stories involving magic so it can be used here.

    I think Hyrule Warrior’s shiek was what they intended when they made OoT but the graphics did not allow for all the subtleties. Plus they needed to keep Shiek from looking too much like Zelda otherwise there would be no big reveal at the very end.

    • Karwan Kadir

      I agree with you there. As for the flat chest thing, it’s simple really. It’s not hard for women to tie straps around their breasts to flatten them down, well, to be fair it depends on the size but heh, let’s be honest, Zelda never really had anything too big going on there for it to be difficult to do. If you look at her official art for the game, it’s almost like Nintendo made them small just for this reason.

      • smcrzgi

        sorry but i dont find it so clear… link in the wii u zelda trailer looks very feminine… is he male, or female now? no one really knows. SS link was very feminin looking as well.

        • Miyamoto and Aonuma both confirmed that Link in Zelda Wii U is male.

          Link’s always been pretty bishy so it’s not like it was that strange.

          Mind you when it comes to characters what it comes down to is that just because they look feminine, doesn’t mean they are a girl… just because a character looks masculine doesn’t make then a guy either.

  • Fi

    I always thought she used magic to become a man, at least just to create an illusion of it. But yeah, Zelda is female, so…

  • 17Haru17 .

    1998 Spoilers! Anyone who thought Sheik was a man after playing Ocarina of Time was really deluded.

  • Trinosaur

    I can accept this, though I’ll probably continue my own headcanon or whatever you call it for the future. As you say, we’re free to interpret things how we want in the end. Kinda disappointing but I’m OK with this. 🙂

    • BrotherDarunia

      Hippie

  • Vladislak

    I immediately favorited the source of this article. No more stupid debates over trivial things like this for me!

    As a side note, Aonuma himself more or less said Sheik is female in a 2011 interview so I don’t know why this was even necessary:

    “We recently received information from a
    survey conducted in the US that indicated that, among our female
    characters, users had a preference for those that were more on the
    independent side, such as Sheik and Tetra”

    Source: http://kotaku.com/5412635/zelda-developer-was-stumped-by-new-zelda-games-puzzles

    • Joe Angel

      Naturally, Sheik is still Zelda so by extension that makes Sheik a good representation of female characters.

      It’s still a disguise though, one that makes her seem male and a magical one at that. I do think she changed her anatomy to seem more masculine and also she seems to be more athletic as Sheik. I don’t think she actually changed into a man at any time, but I don’t think she simply covered up her own body either.

      • Vladislak

        Well yeah obviously she would WANT people to think she was male. Ganondorf was looking for a Princess after all.

        I do agree that some degree of magic likely was involved to make her APPEAR different though. After all that flash of light in the temple of time hardly provided enough time for someone to get undressed and then dressed again.

        But yeah I’ve never subscribed to the belief that she literally became a man.

  • Ryan Haney

    Am I the only one who noticed the binding in the chest area in Chad’s picture?

  • Nick

    i think my last comment wasnt good for zu. so im gonna post it again without the cursing. who care what bill trinen says he isnt aunoma just who cares, bill trinen isnt a story director of any sort, hes just a businessman (and really kinda boring)

    • Merylas

      “We recently received information from a survey conducted in the US that indicated that, among our female characters, users had a preference for those that were more on the independent side, such as Shiek and Tetra,”

      Source: http://kotaku.com/5412635/zelda-developer-was-stumped-by-new-zelda-games-puzzles

      Courtesy of Vladislak’s comment on this exact article. Aonuma even acknowledges that Sheik is female several years ago.

      • Nick

        oh heyo! ty! headcanon dead, but i always like to know the real canon

        • smcrzgi

          does he mean that zelda as shiek is female? or that zelda is disguised as a female shiekah??? becuase the two concepts arent quite the same….

  • smcrzgi

    i guess i just feel this doesnt really clarify anything. did trinin just mean that when zelda is being shiek that zelda hasnt changed her gender at all (which would seem to be what he is implying)? or does he mean that while zelda is still female, and zelda is being shiek, she is disguised as a shiekah girl, and not a boy?

    id really like some clarification on his comments on this….

    • VladNorris

      Sheik is a male disguise, and behind the disguise there’s a female.
      Simple as that. Sheik as a disguise/alter ego is supposed to be a boy, but even in the disguise, Zelda remains as a girl. So yeah, she never genderbent to pretend to be a boy

      • And a disguise is only a disguise as long as it is fooling characters (or the player for that matter).

        Essentially once the cat is out of the bag, it’s no longer a disguise. It’s just Zelda in a different outfit.

        Hence why Nintendo doesn’t try to hide that it’s Zelda dressed in the Sheik outfit in more recent games.

  • Faye
    • The person left out one huge very simple and very possible explanation to that whole discussion.

      Illusion Magic. Why would you use magic to do a painful body transformation when you could just use magic to create an illusion barrier that just makes you appear a certain way to those around you. It basically covers everything with out the need for scape goats like contacts and chest binders and so on.

  • smcrzgi

    i guess my main issue with this is that it Doesn’t really clarify much… Ya Zelda is female, even when she is hiding as Shiek, but Zelda is disguised as a male sheikah, which is what it says in hyrule historia… Not sure what bill trinin is meaning then. Does he mean that Zelda is disguised a a a shiekah girl, or just that even in disguise, Zelda is still female?

    • Zelda is Zelda no matter who she dresses as, that’s basically it.

      Zelda is female, her gender is female. She’s simply wearing a disguise.

      Sheik isn’t a separate person. Sheik isn’t even real. What is real is that Zelda is wearing a disguise to protect herself. Not because she wants to be this fake person but because she doesn’t want to get caught by Ganondorf.

      It doesn’t matter what the gender of the disguise is (cause again the disguise isn’t a separate or real person), because that isn’t Zelda’s real gender. Basically it boils down to who is Zelda and what’s her gender. Regardless of her appearance.

  • Heylook Itsbuck

    This is actually a topic that’s been up for debate? It’s pretty obvious from the content of the game that she’s a girl. And all these crazy arguments like, what about her breasts, where are her long ears, her arms are slightly longer or whatever crazy reason you have in your head for her being a guy due to transforming her physical body to that of a male, here’s a thought. If by chance she has the power to transform her body into something entirely new then I’m sure she could probably use some kind of illusion or cloaking magic to make herself look however she wanted as opposed to actually becoming a male. We’ve got an awesome, strong female character here, regardless of whether she’s pretending to be a guy or not, and some people just can’t seem to handle that and have to insist that she must have been a guy when she was being her badass self. Get over it people, Sheik was a girl that could drop you in a heart beat, it’s that simple.

    • Joe Angel

      She changes in a flash including her skin color and eye color. After that people like Ruto assume she’s male.

      I don’t find it weird people thought Sheik was male.

      As for your argument about her looking different if she had the option, bollocks. If you want to stay hidden, I think transforming into a male ninja is the best path, don’t you?

      • Heylook Itsbuck

        I mean I guess you could change your physical form or you could save yourself the trouble and just charm everyone into thinking you’re a guy. Seems easier to just use magic to look that way instead of actually changing who you are, besides why are people still questioning when it’s been confirmed she’s still a female?

  • Talmor

    I’d always thought of Sheik in the masculine. In the original version of OoT, there is very little to suggest Sheik is supposed to female beyond the fact that Sheik turns out to be Zelda in disguise. The moniker ‘Sheik’ doesn’t strike me as particularly feminine either. Hiding out as a male Sheikah made a thorough disguise from Ganondorf. Different gender, different race….

    Nice of Nintendo to lay down Word of Law on the subject,
    but…this argument will probably never die. Sheik being male is also accepted by the fandom in total, I believe. Most the arguments I’ve ever seen have been for if Sheik was his own character or just a male disguise for a princess on the run.

  • Ryan Haynes

    When I was 7, I figured out Sheik was a woman during the Nocturne of Shadow cutscene. As when Bongo Bongo’s Shadow tossed her, she made the same sound as a Gerudo when you knock one out.