Sunday, January 29, 2006

Cross-Gender Avatars

As I've mentioned, I made a persistent world for the computer game NeverWinter Nights. I'm very proud of it. My players seem to have lots of fun there. I play it a lot too, but under another name.

To the players, I'm Hazmatt, creator and head honcho. But when I want to play, I use the same handle I do here - "1958 Fury" (a reference to my "real" name, Christine... the name I'll use if I ever start living as a woman). Most of the players think that Hazmatt and 1958Fury are two different people. I like being able to play without people knowing I'm also the builder. It keeps players from spamming me with requests and bug-fixes while I'm trying to get into character.

But it serves another purpose as well. When I play as Fury, I not only play female characters, but I play as a female playing female characters. This is my version of cross-dressing. I get to walk around in a female form, and be recognized by other people as female. For a brief period of time, I am female, from head to toe. If people ask me any questions about my real life, I'll either evade the question, or answer as if I'm really female. To me, this isn't lying. Since I do believe I'm a woman inside, then I don't feel like I'm lying to play one online. Or rather, I don't even feel like I'm "playing one"... the internet is the only place where I can feel like myself.

And I have tried playing male. It just doesn't work. I can't get into character, and it's just not fun for me. I used to play on a MUD a lot, and I experimented with all combinations: Female human playing female characters, male human who plays female characters, male playing male, etc. And I just don't enjoy the game unless I'm female playing female. I'm not trying to mess with people's minds, I'm not trying to fool anyone or make a guessing game out of it... It's just the only way I can feel comfortable and be myself.

It sickens when other people misrepresent themselves online, for their own gain. So of course I often feel hypocritical about the things I do. In order not to get into trouble, I follow certain rules I've set for myself. For starters, I don't cyber. I don't want to risk making my own online version of "The Crying Game". Also, if I feel a friendship is getting too close, I tell them the truth. So far I've told about 6 online friends, and none of them were angry or offended. Or if they were, they didn't tell me so.

If any of my mod's players happen to stumble across this page, I hope they will be discreet about it. But if the truth is found out, it won't be a huge deal. It's not so much a "secret" as it's just something I'd rather not spread around. For convenience sake.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

The Inevitable Transgender Rant

I hate to start this Blog out with a whiny rant. However, one of the reasons I'm putting this up, is so I can have a place to get things off my chest. So I guess I'll go ahead and post my transgender rant, and get it out of the way.

I have the psychological condition known as Gender Dysphoria, or Gender Identity Disorder. Which is just another way of saying "woman trapped in a man's body", though generally I don't like that term. I am not gay, but I strongly identify with the opposite sex, and I strongly wish I was a woman. I have known this on some level all of my life, but I suppressed these feelings because I didn't know what they meant. I had always assumed that the desire to be female was part of being gay, and I knew I wasn't attracted to men. It was only recently that I found out that a large percentage transexuals are straight (at least before the operation), and with that discovery came a floodgate of realizations about myself.

Growing up, I never felt right doing boy things, and as a result, I was often an outcast. While I enjoyed playing war games like GI Joe well enough, I would often play female characters, and give the stories deeper plots, rather than just shooting each other. Often my play sessions would include elements of romance, and sometimes there would be no fighting at all. I always identified with girls more than boys, and even fantasized about being a girl. But I always shoved those thoughts out of my head, because I thought they were wrong. They were especially confusing because I knew I was attracted to girls, even before the other boys were.

It was confusing because I thought that transexualism was simply a later stage of homosexuality. That all gay men really wished they were women, and only a lucky few ever managed to get the money together or convince their psychologist so that they could get the operation. Now I realize that, for the most part, gay men are exactly who they want to be - men who are attracted to other men. Myself, I have never found men to be sexually attractive. I'm not offended by the idea, but it just doesn't do anything for me.

So what does this do to my marriage? We're not sure yet. I love KJ very much, and she loves me too, and neither of us ever want to be apart. And yet, KJ doesn't want to be married to a woman, or even a man who perceives himself to be a woman. And while I can't bear the thought of losing her, I also can't go through life pretending to be something I'm not.

I can see myself as female, and I can see myself as gender-neutral "Matthew". But I really can't see myself as male, nor do I want to, and I never have. I used to be happy with just being free-spirited "Matthew", and I managed to make it pretty far through life just being myself, avoiding macho guys and conversations about cars. But this gender-neutral attitude has always made me feel like I have no identity at all, which gives me low self-esteem, and makes me uncomfortable around other people.