I tried to come up with a clever title for this post, but nothing seemed to fit. Instead, I decided just to be honest. Gen Con was a blast; it was an amazing way to spend a weekend; and I cannot wait for next year.
In a general sense, the whole event was just a ton of fun. For four days I was more or less removed from my daily routine. I barely checked my email, didn’t respond quickly to texts, and posted on social media only to share pictures from the con. I met a lot of nice people there while playing a lot of good games — mostly the new edition of Dungeons & Dragons, which is a huge step above the last edition.
It was also an incredibly self-affirming place for a trans woman to be. I knew going in that Gen Con was a “safe space” for trans people, but I had no idea how it would feel to spend four days with people who didn’t even think twice. From the time I first presented myself to pick up my badge (with a letter from my therapist explaining why my ID and Badge name didn’t match), I was Alison throughout the con. When playing RPGs, it’s common for two players at the table to reference a third player in the third person as they discuss tactics and such; over four days, not once did someone use anything other than she and her when referencing me … even when I was playing a male character. This was a group unconcerned about conforming to gender norms.
It wasn’t perfect, of course. Specifically, the servers in the local restaurants and coffee shops were less open to gender identities outside cis expectations. I was misgendered more than once, and I think one shitty little barista even sniggered at me behind my back with her fellow employee. But I tried to ignore these moments and enjoy the rest of the experience.
When I decided that Gen Con would me a milestone for me a year ago, I made the right decision. I have never been so comfortable in my own shoes as I was at Gen Con. Even in the crush of anonymous people, even meeting all these people I have never met before, even when I was front-and-center as Dungeon Master for a table full of players waiting for me to give them a fun time — even then, I was myself, and I was seen as myself, and I was happy.
I wouldn’t have missed this for the world. Now if only the rest of the world were so accommodating!