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Old 06-26-2020, 10:34 PM
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briar briar is online now
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Hi there!

Well, this isn't *exactly* on topic, but I think it's relevant enough to mention.

I'm transgender, male-to-female, a fact which I have known for the better part of my 32 years. Up until about age 12 or so, I played male characters in gaming, largely because most of the games I played happened in offline settings and where I come from, especially growing up, there is/was a lot of stigma towards people acting outside of their gender.

Since then, however, I've almost exclusively played female PCs, and I think it has done a lot to help me to develop and bridge the gap between being raised a male, but accepting a female persona. In fact, I might go out on a limb here and say that it has likely been the single most determining factor between whether or not I went ahead with my transition or stayed the gender I was born with and suffered through the dysphoria.

Personally, I feel that role-playing female characters have been absolutely instrumental in helping that transition along, making me happier and more confident in myself and my choice. In the real world, for a lot of transfeminine people like myself, it's incredibly hard to act like ourselves, and that is especially true when a transgender person is just starting out in their transitional journey. To me, especially, the idea of 'passing' (being treated as a woman due to my appearance and demeanor) is a need rather than a want. But the thing is, I was raised to be a boy, and thus largely male mannerisms, points of view, and habits. Breaking those habits, for most, requires us to be able to experiment and slowly change as a result of trial and error.

When you're transgender, people tell you when you're not passing. Even if you don't care about passing, you can tell when you're not just based on the reactions you get from other people. Sometimes people make it easy and say it to our faces, but we notice it even when people try to hide it. We can see the surprised look on your face or the sudden sense of unease that comes over a person when they realize the person they're talking to isn't a CIS woman or man. But that's embarrassing as hell for us and is actually a negative motivator for those who are trying to discover themselves. Granted some transgender people 'dgaf', and are just wholly themselves in every situation regardless of whether it makes them look weird, but I'd say for the greater majority of us, it's not a situation where we want to find ourselves in and will actively avoid.

As a result, the mental transition process can be incredibly slow and agonizing. And that is exactly why it is so fraught with danger for budding transgender people. It's really, really scary not knowing or being sure if you'll ever get to a point where you can feel comfortable in your own body without others constantly giving you hell for it. And it's incredibly painful when you find out that your efforts constantly don't seem like they're enough, either--it can cause a person to lose faith in themself and make choices they end up regretting later.

Role-playing, however, is different. Role-playing actively encourages you to adopt traits, points of view, and demeanors that aren't necessarily your own, though they may indeed be traits and such that you would like to be mindful of or have for yourself--we're all constantly improving after all, and that goes for everyone, not just transgender people. It provides a medium in which we can experiment with different ideologies and concepts, determine what sorts of situations work, and feel more right or authentic to us, and we also get feedback from other players and GMs. And more than that, role-playing, especially online, provides an environment in which nobody knows you or has any sort of predilection towards what gender you might be. Unless you tell someone you're this or that, people will assume based on the demeanor you portray and the energy you give off.

I think if more transgender people, especially those in their early stages of transitioning, utilized role-playing as a medium for understanding themselves and defining their own male and female traits, we'd have a lot fewer problems with dysphoria-induced depression and anxiety, and a lot fewer transgender suicides. Similarly, I also think that cis people can learn to understand, if only maybe a glimpse, of the inner workings of a transgender people by role-playing the opposite gender as well. The world needs a little more understanding, I think, especially with the mounting concerns we have in this world over who has what rights and so forth.

Anyway, I hope you find that interesting, and it adds to the discussion in a different way

Last edited by briar; 07-01-2020 at 01:59 AM.
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Old Yesterday, 06:38 PM
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Briar, that is really cool to hear.

I prefer not to disclose my own gender identity here. My pbp characters skew about 60-70% women, I'd estimate. I try to avoid producing any form of mental image of the other players, if I'm honest. I find that makes it easier to take characters as they're presented - so that I'm thinking of the Half-Elf paladin, not, say, the accounts payable clerk from Missouri who's playing them. It's more immersive for me.

I like to do the "Whatever feels right for the character" method of determining character gender. For example, at the moment, I have the thought of a noble background frost sorcerer, so that character feels more right being male (because I don't want the character just to be Elsa!) My usual exception is that characters whose backstory tends toward appearing in any way edgy will basically always be male, because there's a whole lot of pervasive cultural stuff about mistreatment of women being used as backstory that I don't want to go anywhere near.
Yeah, I got a whole lotta characters y'all.

Last edited by SnakeOilCharmer; Yesterday at 06:40 PM.
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