So, there is something I have been hiding about myself, to this blog, to everyone who reads it….
I am a geek. I’m not just an IT nerd, but also a D&D playing, dice carrying, know all the rules since “Chainmail” was the book, Joss Whedon based podcast co-host, comic book reading – Geek.
Not the best place for a male-bodied female to grow, but not the worst either. In many ways, being a geek has the same demands as being a sports jock. You have to be male or you won’t be taken seriously, your opinions won’t matter. If you are different, you are shunned for the most part. Many of my D&D groups were entirely male, with very few even casual female players stepping in. Playing female characters were not encouraged, mostly because they were mis-represented in game. (female elf that hangs out in her underwear, trying to get the rest of the party to sleep with her? really?) They were not people, but pin-ups to be used by the group. Some kind of sexual wish fulfillment from a male gamer with little grasp of the finer details of being a woman adventurer.
I always avoided playing a woman, because I didn’t want to out myself to my groups. I felt as if by my playing a woman accurately, they may see what I am. So, in my gaming career I have only ever played two women, and both times I was acutely aware of the spot I was putting myself in, luckily it’s never as bad in real life as it is in your head. I never outed myself, it just felt that way.
Female friends, and some girlfriends/wives would try to enter the game, but they were treated in one of two ways, I am sure unknowingly by the guys in the group. One, like they were mentally challenged, everything over-explained in a patronizing slow speak kind of way. Or, like they were about to be raped, heavy handed sexual references in game to their characters, hitting on the other group members girlfriend/wife through the characters, etc. So, yeah hard to break into these groups if you are a woman, and not really a place I would open myself up, being MtF.
The cons are worse, far worse. There is no control, no way of knowing which group will be cool or assholes during the games, it’s all random. My roommate (best friend) and I brought in one of our female friends to the Midsouth Con, in Memphis. She had never been to a con and I thought a smaller one would be a more casual way of introducing her to Cons. She is a petite redhead, very pretty, but also very smart and sure of herself. So of course the people there were attracted to her. Cos-play people were coming up to her (in regular clothes) to get photos with her, it was getting to the point of her feeling uncomfortable, I think. So we both played her bodyguards, shunting the more aggressive men away from her. She did have a good time, but that was more due to her being a genuinely good and kind person than anything the con-goers did. She could find the bright side of the dark side of the moon.
So, I co-hosted a podcast based on the works of Joss Whedon. Firefly, BtVS, Angel, Dollhouse (not my favorite show), etc. This was before he started the Marvel movies, so he was not really well known outside geek circles. I co-hosted and produced and directed this podcast, and I was doing this with my best friend and roommate, so I was very happy. We did fun yet informative podcasts, never taking ourselves too seriously, and to some listeners, not seriously enough. I think I brought a more feminine point of view to the show, though I was careful not to out myself to my friend of the audience. Despite being a closet transgender woman, it was some of the best times of my life.
Being a MtF geeks means that when you are gaming and playing a girl, the wish fulfillment is that you wish you were physically the girl you imagine, that the other players would see you as that girl for just a little while. Even now, not having a gaming group, as we all moved away to other parts of the country, I found that MMORPGs can fulfill some of those needs. I game on SWOTR, and used to game on WOW/Dark Age of camelot, and more. But when I do, they are female characters, meticulously crafted into what I would want to be (in the case of some of these games, what I want to be if I was an elf or dark elf, etc). It made it awkward when gaming with others, using voice instead of typing your conversations, it brought me out of the fantasy, to hear my semi-deep male voice. I would often claim my microphone wasn’t working so I could avoid using my voice at all. Even today, I play SWOTR solo, just to live the storylines as a female.
So there you have it, a little insight into a world I hadn’t previously shared.