In most of my writing here on Nerdy But Flirty, I tend to focus more on gaming and geek culture and don’t get overly preachy about too many things. There are exceptions to this, like a couple podcast episodes that I had in Season 5 with a good friend of mine who goes by ActWon online, but for the most part, I don’t try to start issues with folks or marginalize anyone else in an effort to avoid marginalization myself or to protect friends and minority groups from such a fate. But, this doesn’t mean that I don’t actively champion these things beyond that and, honestly, I have found that when I do decide to get personal and preach about topics like LGBT rights, it doesn’t have the fallback that I would have expected.
What some people don’t know about me is that I am actually transgendered myself, and in terms of sexuality, I would call myself a pansexual (meaning, in this case, that biological or outward gender means little to me when it comes to who I might seek as a partner). It isn’t that I’m ashamed at all by this fact or the experiences that I’ve had; however, as I told site editor Kelsey recently, I personally believe that neither gender identity nor sexual orientation should define anyone. This isn’t even to mention race, creed, religious affiliation, and so many other things that also shouldn’t factor into it all that much. People are people, they are who they are, and I personally believe that everyone gets too far caught up in having to fit someone into a box or set definition and, in doing so, we forget the person who they actually are.
As many of you know, I currently live in the great state of Mississippi. Mississippi isn’t exactly a haven for civil rights, and despite how beautiful (if hot!) the state is, and that there are many great people here, LGBT rights in this state are nearly null. For some, this might be a benefit; transgender care laws are effectively non-existent here, which means that getting hormones or treatments of other types is very easy and doesn’t carry with it the red tape and months of pre-authorization and counseling that it may require in other states. On the other hand, the network of friends and support that other areas might have are harder to find here. Many of my best friends who live in Mississippi or other states of a similar nature feel isolated, only having the solace of one or two people to come to, and feel that they cannot be who they are or even talk about personal things without being totally isolated in both their professional and personal lives.
For some people, the internet exists as a safe place for them to escape to, be whomever they want, and get the privilege of not having to feel judged (or so is the hope). However, marginalization very much exists online as well as off. One example I’ve seen recently was from Guild Wars 2, which although for the most part has a great, forward-thinking community of players, also has its share of trolls and negatives. One of the World vs. World Commanders happened to be transgender. She identified as female, looked pretty feminine or at least androgynous from photos of her on official forms, and she was a very skilled leader. From my understanding, she was well-respected over voice comms within her own guild, and at least initially was when she started commanding over public voice channels. Yet, over time, certain others came to play on the server’s World vs. World maps at the same time she was commanding, and they would make negative comments about her and her “baritone” voice, saying they thought she was some cute chick from the pictures she had up and her “totally fuckable characters,” yet they were really disappointed that she was just “some dude posing as a girl.” After a couple nasty encounters like that, the woman – one of the more apt commanders the server had – quit.
For reasons like that from the story above, some people in most all online games will create a guild they call a “safe space.” The purpose of a guild like that is to be non-judgmental, welcome everyone, and keep trolls out of the guild. From my experiences (documented here in this video podcast), these guilds often come with a large amount of rules associated with them. Yet, what tends to happen is that a guild meant to be a safe space will devolve into a place where people feel like they cannot, in fact, be themselves. In a guild I was in once, this started happening because one person (a female-to-male transgender) would joke around about some of his experiences, and one person might find that it was a “trigger” for them. Despite the other apologizing profusely, they would be told to never get personal like that again, to take any such comments off of public chat, etc., and instead, they would themselves feel marginalized because of one person’s insecurities (not to make light of that, of course, because I understand these sensitivities). Thus, a “safe space” becomes a hot bed for perhaps even further limitations than a normal community might be. And, in turn, I’ve often discovered that a community not initially billed as an LGBT safe place might, in fact, be more of a friend and supporter of said community than one that was.
So, then, what happens to the person who feels marginalized – further marginalized, then – by activities in a place meant to protect them, unable to find a home to go to? Where do they turn? What do they do? And, more importantly, why is it that people in 2014 are still so caught up on things like who someone likes, what plumbing someone has or used to have, or that they don’t “fit inside one gender box” rather than being genderqueer?
The fact is, a lot of people in this world simply don’t know where to turn to. People feel lost, confused, and at odds with who they are and who society says they should be. In fact, even today, a lot of mainstream media tells them that they are still wrong for the homosexual thoughts or other “otherness” that they possess, and we are forced to question why this must be. People still have fits because of the ability for a male character to romance another male in a video game, yet the funny (or sad?) double-standard that we have is that those same people are often okay with the ability for two women to love each other in a game. Or, excuse me, to fuck in a game (because, yeah, these hypocrites will still believe that they have a shot with the woman who is obviously not into guys, let alone real in the first place). These people are more of the pretenders or, rather, I suppose they are the types who believe women are just eye candy, and so if two women are sleeping together in a game, it’s probably just for their male amusement. In some ways, sadly, they might be correct, because while you might see a scene in something like The Witcher where two women would make out or sleep together (hypothetically), the developers of the third game are likely not going to give Geralt the choice to sleep with a guy.
Honestly, I champion equal rights of all types. I believe that people should be who they are and be allowed to live their lives free from the oppression of others who are simply too closed-minded to understand. And honestly, even if this other person doesn’t get why this person is who they are, that shouldn’t matter – they should have zero say in such personal topics as sexuality, gender identity, or even religion.
I’m just one person, and I cannot fix the world’s problems. In fact, I have a lot of my own issues that would probably tear people apart to hear about or think about, but that’s a story for another day. I can, however, say that I’m always willing to talk to someone if they feel that they’re having a personal crisis along these lines, particularly so if they feel they have no one to speak to who can understand them or help them, and doubly-especially so if they feel suicidal as a result. If you feel that you wish to talk to me (knowing that I’m trained as a counselor and in therapy on the military side of things), you can do so by:
I will also be willing to talk to people over the phone or Skype, but you’ll need to email/DM me first and let me know that’s what you want, since I’d prefer not to put my cell number online.
Just know that you are not alone.