Hello, readers! Today, since nobody presented me with a particular question, and since I've been busy slaying demons in Sanctuary (Diablo III, for those who haven't heard) I'm going to speak on why I got into games, and how it's been an important part of my life. I know this is a rather jarring switch from the usual trans-issues topic to something a bit more personal, but more than a few of the transwomen I've met have been into gaming, so maybe it's a bit more universal than I give it credit for. Nevertheless, if you have a question you'd like me to write about, submit it at the end. This little change is 40% because of Diablo, 60% because of not having a better question. Anyways, onto the post.
I never really fit in, as has been the story for most people who I've spoken to who're trans. I never really understood how or why I was different, but I just was. I liked fantasy stories, I liked science fiction, and was never really into girl stuff. I played with legos and K'nex growing up. So placing myself as trans took a lot longer for me, and a lot of self reflection, and as a result, it wasn't until highschool that I really understood myself well enough to state "I am transsexual".
So that left a very confused me growing up. I never fit in, I was constantly made fun of, and I didn't relate to guys very well. This lead to all manner of teasing and in some cases, getting beat up. When your life is grim, escapist hobbies(like video games) tend to, in my experience, really give you a way to literally escape all the bad around you. You're no longer "that chatty nerd that everyone picks on", instead you're a hero, saving the land or the stars from all manner of evil.
Of course, gaming itself, and immersing yourself in a fantasy land, has limits to what it can do for you. Even I can admit, I played far, far too many video games. But then what was I to do? I had no friends, anyone who considered befriending me was insulted and teased by the others until they left. I didn't relate to the boys, and I was the super-uncool nerdy 'guy' to the girls. So I gamed. and I gamed and I swapped cartridges, and gamed some more.
And an interesting thing happened. After really immersing myself in a ton of games, I noticed that I was able to hold a conversation with some guys. I had a thing I could relate to them with! I didn't speak guy very well, but I spoke game fluently. And through that, I managed to make a few, albeit shallow, friendships.
This was still a step up for me, however. I wasn't eating alone at lunch, and I was now had people to talk to. For a while, this was good enough. Better than the alternative of loneliness, ay any rate. But it was still shallow. If the topic switched from games to anything else, I was a fish out of water. If I spoke up, I was clearly not with the group opinion. And in most cases, I simply wasn't interested in the topics they went on about. It became apparent somewhat fast that gaming, although it had given me a way to connect with guys, wasn't solving my issue. My friendships were all based on games and games alone, and we had no other real communication or understanding besides those. And it grated on me.
Bearing in mind, at this point I still was too ignorant of my own self to realize I was going against the grain by trying to hang out with guys. I didn't even know I was trans yet, so I persisted. Over time, I'd gotten into all manner of games, ranging from Pokemon (both the card game and the gameboy game), Halo, Magic the Gathering, and others. I was able to keep up a fairly good conversation on the basis of games alone. Having a breadth of games I was into gave me numerous 'topics' to choose from. But it was all still superficial, limited to only games, and nothing more.
An unrelated incident on an online forum some years later, just before I was to graduate high school, made me aware of transitioning, and the process by which it was handled, and that, yes, people actually do this. Not people who go to shady bars, getting off on being dressed like, and performing as, women on stage. In my mind, that's what "trans" was; bad makeup and a 5'o clock shadow, hairy legs and a dress. I had no better idea until I saw this person. This kicked off the journey known as my transition, and set me on the path toward college with some better understanding of myself.
I still relied on my old standby - games - to make friends, but I relied less on that than I used to. The crowd I was in was super open and accepting of everyone, which made the moment when I did come out less scary than it could have been. I quickly developed friendships with some of the girls who'd been around our group, and in short order I was one of the group. And for the first time, the friendship wasn't a shallow, superficial 'friendship' based on a single common interest, but rather a mutual talking, laughing, chatting, understanding friendship. Something new to me, and something I'd sorely lacked.
At the end of the day, I'm still a gamer. I still look forward to new releases, I still burn midnight oil playing the newest online [insert genre]. But understanding how I came to enjoy games, and why, and how it helped shape who I am, allows me to embrace that part of who I am, rather than be ashamed that I still enjoy them.
And, in case you're wondering, yes, I can thrash you at Halo :)
(If you have a question you would like me to address, please leave it in the comments. Anonymous posting is enabled, you don't even need an account!)