People know me as being someone who isn’t afraid to share intimate details about myself or those around me and as someone who prides herself on being an honest person. Maybe even a bit too honest, sometimes.
The post that I’m about to write is by far the most honest and open post that I’ve ever written. It’s also the most difficult post that I’ve ever had to write, for a number of reasons. I have gone back and forth about whether or not this is something that should even be said publicly and if so, how exactly I should go about broaching the subject. However, recent events have brought this issue to light and I would rather know that I have the power to decide how something like this comes out, rather than give someone else the power to do that.
I received an e-mail today from someone that I’ve crossed paths with in the community, who felt the need to inform me of a short lived blog that I had started a little over five years ago that someone had dug up. There aren’t any obvious details on the blog that would immediately link it directly to me, but more subtle aspects of it most certainly would. The fact that the writer worked at an adult bookstore, or lived in Milwaukee, WI, or had just started playing World of Warcraft. Certain phrases or expressions are things that I have been known to say or use in my writing. If you really looked hard enough and wanted to connect the dots, you could pretty much determine that this blog was once mine.
The reason why this person felt the need to reach out to me was because one of the posts contained information of an extremely personal nature and they weren’t sure if I intended for something like this to remain public or for it to be potentially traced back to me. When I realized what this post contained, I tried to do everything I could to take the blog down and I wasn’t able to do that. The e-mail addresses that it was linked to have passwords attached that I no longer remember and I have exhausted every option I could think of to get access back. Once I realized that the post could not be taken down, I then began to contemplate what to do next.
Someone had to go through a lot of trouble to discover this blog. This person either really liked me or really hated me and this could impact how they would decide to use whatever information they found on that page. Rather than have this hanging over my head, worrying about what would happen if something like this got out, I decided to take the power back and reveal the contents of the post, myself.
For those who aren’t familiar with the term, it basically means that you are born a certain gender, but you believe yourself to be the opposite of that gender and so you take steps to make your physical appearance match what you believe to be inside. Essentially, I was born male, but I live my life entirely as female. This is something that everyone in my real life is well aware of and completely supports me in this. The people at the company I work for know. My parents know. My friends know. I live quite a happy and normal life, for someone like me. I make a great living. I have a wonderful home. I don’t really encounter much resistance about this in my personal life.
Unfortunately, when it comes to the Internet, it’s been a constant struggle. There are numerous examples of men pretending to be women to pull one over on people or to get some sort of privilege out of it. I can assure you that’s not the case with me. I worried that by coming out, people would naturally assume it was another one of those situations. And then there’s the timing of it all. There’s never a good time or a right way to tell someone that you’re transgender. It will almost always come out awkward and at a bad time. You can’t really prepare for something like this or designate something as “the right time.” It just has to come out when it does.
I wondered if it would even make a difference or if it should make a difference. People don’t read what I have to write because of my sexual identity or my orientation. They come to my site to read up on how to play a druid or a priest or to see which trend in the game I’m feeling opinionated about at any given time. Why do they need to know which gender I feel I’m meant to be? It shouldn’t be an issue. People listen to my podcast to hear Ophelie and I have a few laughs and have intelligent conversations with people about their opinions and the games that they enjoy. They don’t listen to our show because of how I choose to identify or how I live my day to day life.
I remember the moment that I first felt like I could make a difference and not for my gaming endeavors. I have a Follower on Twitter who admitted they were trans and that they were really struggling with how to go about it. They happen to live in a small town, their family doesn’t support them, they don’t feel they have a lot of money to begin the process, etc. This was my moment. I wanted so badly to say something to this person and let them know that it would be alright and that you can move away from all of that and you don’t need money to be who you were meant to be. If I could come from a small town, where I was picked on and I could make something out of myself, then they could do it, too.
But instead, I fell back on that image that I felt like I had to maintain to stay relevant and safe in the blogging world. So, I didn’t say anything. I just offered a few lines of muted support and went on my way. I have spent most of my time in the community rallying against people who are phony or put up false pretenses and here I am, doing the exact same thing. It wasn’t all about the image. It was also about having my escape and doing what I felt I needed to, in order to maintain that.
I’m one of those people who games to have an escape. When I’m not feeling particularly confident in myself or on the days I feel like I can’t pass to save my life, I can log into whatever game that I’m playing and I’m a girl. No questions asked. I don’t have to worry about if I’m wearing the right outfit or if I’m walking the right way. I can just log on and be who I want to be, who I feel I’m meant to be. I don’t have to confront those insecurities that plague me on a day to day basis. I was terrified of giving that up. I worried about having my worlds collide and having everything I touched be affected with my sexual identity. I wanted to keep something in my life sacred and my gaming was that something.
The truth is that I have been obsessing about this for months now. This has been the one thing that has held me back from wanting to go to BlizzCon or connect with other people in the community. I have lost sleep over this. I have taken up binge eating to combat the worry and the stress that I put myself through, contemplating whether or not I should come out to people before I think about attending the convention or after. I’m back on Paxil again, to deal with the anxiety. It’s been incredibly stressful. It only got worse when the blog from my past got out and when it was revealed to me today. I’m not saying any of this to garner pity or to sound dramatic. I’m just trying to highlight how difficult this is for someone like me and that this isn’t something that I’ve enjoyed keeping from people.
I’m sure I could have handled this better in the past and I’m sure I could be handling this better now. I can’t take back how I’ve chosen to deal with this before, but I can certainly take steps to own how I want to deal with it, going forward. This isn’t anything that I’m ashamed of or that I want anyone to feel bad for me about. Do I wish the circumstances were better, for me to do something like this? Absolutely. But, it’s something I’ve entertained the thought of doing, anyway and I’m kind of glad that something like this came up to motivate me to get this out in the open.
I know this is something that’s going to affect me in many ways. I know some people are not going to understand or they’re going to feel betrayed and they’re allowed to feel that way. I know some people will have questions and I’m not opposed to answering some of them, as long as they’re asked in a respectful manner. I know a few people will take a huge amount of glee from what I’ve just said and it will be used as ammo for jokes or something to be otherwise held against me. I would like to think some people have some amount of respect for others and would not resort to such obvious tactics to get ahead, but I can’t stop people from doing that, either. I haven’t always been the kindest person towards others and they would be well within their rights to hold this against me, if they really wanted to.
At the end of the day, I would just like to keep doing what I’ve been doing and to have this affect my gaming life as little as possible. I would like to still contribute something to the community, to write about what I enjoy and what I love talking about, and to still be welcome to do the same with other people.
This post will be heavily moderated, so please do not take it the wrong way if you leave a comment and it takes longer than usual for me to unscreen it. Hopefully, you can understand the reason for this.