Gen Con was a Blast!

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127

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.

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On one side is Erica. On the other is a Khadoran Man-O-War. One one them is my BFF.

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!

Transgender at Gen Con: An Operation Gamer Girl Epilogue

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OGG

A year ago, when I was still pre-HRT, still had a job, and still lived mostly as my old self, I conceived of Operation Gamer Girl, an admittedly silly name for a silly idea that was meant to motivate me to work towards full transition. The plan was simple: attend Gen Con the following year as myself. At the time, I felt like I was challenging myself, and I felt that attending Gen Con would be like a milestone in my gender transition.

In the year since, I’ve more or less forgotten about the gimmick of Operation Gamer Girl. My transition is moving at a steady clip, I’m already living authentically, and I’ve even got my name change in the works. So in that sense, when I leave for Gen Con tomorrow it will not be a challenge to do so, nor will it be the milestone I thought it might be last year.

But in a lot of ways it is a milestone. That I’m even going is a big deal; the last Gen Con I attended was in 2005. And that I’m going as my authentic self is still something to be uproariously happy about. And I am happy — I am looking forward to this trip more than I have any trip in a long time.

Not to say that I’m not without worries. Despite recent developments in the gaming community, I’m still going into a crowded convention hall as myself, my true self, unarmed and exposed. Add to that, I will not be just a body in the crowd. I have volunteered to work at the con (hey, free badge, can’t knock it) so I will be front and center at times. I will be running table, DMing games. What if someone refuses to be seated at my table? Or doesn’t take me seriously as DM because of the way I look?

In fact, I’m worried about even picking up my badge, because I registered for Gen Con as Alison. Very likely they will ask for ID at the badge table, and my ID is not yet changed. I have a letter from my therapist to explain things, and I’m hoping it’s all I need to smooth that issue over. If I were turned away at the door, I don’t know what I’d do.

But even with my worries, there is no way I’d do anything different. I would no sooner go in there under his name, in his disguise, than I would go in there naked. This is my first Gen Con in a decade, and I’ll be damned if I let the fear of other people ruin it for me before I’d even arrived in Indianapolis. Besides, most of my male clothes have gone to Salvation Army at this point. I wouldn’t have anything to wear.

Tonight, meanwhile, is all about packing. And that means planning out a lot of outfits in advance. As is usually the case, I can’t just throw myself together haphazardly; I need to make sure that every day is a day where I put my best self forward. Controlling how I look helps me control how people see me. I have to look authentic, I have to look real, I have to look natural. It’s just me, folks, but unfortunately being me takes a lot of work sometimes.

So off I go, commencing the final phase of Operation Gamer Girl. I can’t guarentee I’ll be posting anything else this week, though you can be sure there will be something about the trip next week. In the meantime, I’ll probably be tweeting from Gen Con on both my @Ariamythe and @AliRolls4 Twitter feeds.

Wish me luck, folks!  See you next week.

[There is a companion to this post over at Ali Rolls for Damage.]

When Fortune Smiles

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CheshireCat

This has been a pretty amazing week for me. My name change petition is filed, and the process is underway. My decision to pursue writing is actually starting to pay off a bit. [Just a bit, but still.] I’m working on a book. I’m preparing for my first GenCon in years. Finally, I may even have an opportunity to return to podcasting, something I loved to do a couple years ago but that I lost when my life shattered at the beginning of my transition. Things feel like they’re moving in the right direction.

I get worried about times like this. Honestly, I’m just waiting for the first sucker punch to come. They always do, when you least expect them. Not that I believe in karma or universal balance or anything like that. I’m just a realist. In the meantime, though, I’ll be over in the corner writing away with  a shit-eating grin on my face.

Petition for Name Change

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namebadge

I finally did it! I started the process for legally changing my name.

The filing itself was underwhelming. There was no more drama in it than there would be in filing any government form — stodgy old building, bored and indifferent clerk, some typing and printing and stamping and signing and paying a $150 fee. That fee gets my application in the pipeline for a court date, but I don’t get a court date until I’ve gotten fingerprinted, sent those off to the State Police for a criminal background check, gotten the results back, and then posted the name change in … something, a newspaper maybe? Do people still read those? Anyway, I’ll likely get in front of a judge in two months.

It will probably feel like two years.

Of all the can’t-turn-back steps I’ve taken, this one is the can’t-turn-backiest. Your legal name is … well, your legal name. It’s a chore to change it, and it would be a chore to change it back again. It will be the name I file taxes under, the name I get paid under, and the name write checks with. It will become my name on file with the Social Security Administration, and it will become the name on my official Birth Certificate (yes, they re-issue). This is a big deal, and I can’t believe I’m at this point.

Sadly I am petitioning to change my name but not my gender. Michigan still has a burdensome and expensive surgical requirement in place for gender marker switching, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

Still, I am feeling good today. There’s still bureaucratic hoops to jump through before it happens, but they’re minor obstacles. This is me, finally me. Part of me can’t believe I’m bere. The rest of me feels like dancing.

She Moved Through the Fair

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fair

With my job ending, I’ve no longer allowed myself the “luxury” of how I choose to present in public. I just go out as myself, wherever and whenever, or I have to choose not to go out at all. Six weeks ago, there were places I most certainly would have chosen not to go, particularly places with large, unfamiliar crowds .  Happily, I’ve become comfortable in public spaces in the past month or so.

Two weekends ago I had the chance to attend the Detroit area Maker Faire with my son. We’ve attended previous years, but obviously this was the first one with me during transition. Pleasantly, I was “ma’am”ed by a pickle vendor (giant ones on a stick — they were sooooooo good, I bought a second one). More importantly, I felt comfortable there, even though there was a large crowd of potential stares or nasty comments. And I think I detected a few – and I know I got at least one, from a woman who was not at all subtle about it — but I was happy and comfortable and so I chose to ignore them.

This last weekend, I took my kids to a municipal street fair the next town over. This is a big event locally; they shut down the main street through downtown and they bring in artisans, food vendors, a music stage, etc. Again, large and unfamiliar crowds, but after experiencing Maker Faire the week before I was far less reluctant to go there. I was in total “Mom mode” — three kids, comfy clothes, and lots of having to chase the three-year-old when she decided she wanted to see that. In some ways, I think having the kids with me when I’m out enhances my “passing” somehow. I don’t know for sure, and I could be completely wrong, but it feels good nonetheless.

I am also seeing more mixed and guarded reactions from the clerks, sellers, and shopkeepers I interact with in these venues. They are less quick to leap immediately to “sir”, at least some of them are. I don’t know if they’re genuinely seeing me, or just being polite when they note my presentation, but I will take it however I can get it at this point.

It feels great to be so comfortable in my own skin. Finally. I’ve got another big crowd situation coming up in Gen Con (next week), and I think it’s going to be just fine.

 

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Dum Dum Dum, Dummy Doo Wah

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DeckChairs

My weekly therapy session with Nancy this week ended up being mostly about companionship — that is, my lack of it and my desire for it. I can’t say that the conversation left me in an optimistic mood.

This all came up in session because I mentioned that I was lonely. Which is am. It’s not a huge deal, I’m more of a loner anyway, but I am generally surrounded nowadays by people in stable relationships and it’s hard not to look at them and wish I had the same. Call it jealousy if you like. I wouldn’t deny it.

It was weird to be asked a question like “what type of guy do you like?” The honest answer is I just don’t know. I spent most of my life hating maleness in general, and so I never really thought about it. And now, I don’t have enough experience to articulate it. I know I hate dudebros — that is unequivocal. But beyond that, do I have a ‘type’? Search me.

And let’s be honest, in the best of circumstances I’m firing an impossibly long shot in a very small target population in regards to companionship. A straight man who’s secure enough with his sexuality to look past my transgender nature is a rare breed, indeed. And for that man to also be decent and interesting and smart and funny and not some tranny chaser just looking for the thrill? Now you’re talking one-in-a-million. I only know of one such man, and he is already taken.

The sexuality of trans women is interesting. It seems like most of the women I know fall into one of two camps. Some of them consider themselves some variety of LGB and they either date cis women or other trans women. In fact, the number of relationships I’m aware of which involve two trans women is surprisingly high. They seem to be all over the Internet, but I also know some women locally who are in such relationships.

The other kind are the ones who have remained in a relationship with their spouse / fiancee / girlfriend even after they begin transition. They will generally claim that the relationship they have is above sexuality, that labels aren’t important, and that therefore they wouldn’t classify themselves as straight, gay, or whatever. Jenny Boylan is in this camp, partially, though she’s gone so far to say that she’d be a straight woman if she didn’t have her wife.

I don’t fit in either of those camps. I am a straight woman, albeit one saddled with the wrong plumbing and a body misshapen by testosterone. I’m also closing in on forty; I also have three children that are an active part of my life. I am, in other words, a hard sell.

As I finish typing this, I’m sitting on my front porch with my laptop. Daylight is fading; crickets have started chirping in the quiet dusk; and next to me is an Adirondak chair, the twin of the one I’m sitting in but for one difference: the chair is empty.

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Having Daddy Issues

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Daddy Issues

I’ve taken the step recently of doing something I said I would never do: I’ve started asking my kids to stop calling me ‘Dad’.

I didn’t want to do it. When I first told them about my being transgender in December, I vowed at the time that they could call me ‘Dad’ for as long as they wanted. But in recent months it’s become almost unbearable to me for them to keep doing it.

Here’s the thing: I like to think that I am making at least some progress on the ‘passing’ front. I do get ‘ma’am’ occasionally, though whether it’s because someone perceived me as female or someone was just being polite in regards to my gender presentation I never can tell for sure. But it’s progress, nonetheless.

That progress gets undermined when I’m in public with my kids. My kids don’t just occasionally say ‘Dad.’ They say it all the time, often loud and with feeling. “Dad! Dad! Look at this new LEGO set!” “Dad! Can we buy ice cream? Please, Dad!” “Dad, make him stop touching me!” Dad! Dad! Dad! Dad!

People are always looking for cues to gender someone, and three kids calling me ‘Dad’ gives people permission to view me as male. It makes me horribly uncomfortable and, lately, has led to me leaving stores because of the anxiety and dysphoria that it causes me.  I have even left public places early, much to my children’s displeasure, because the anxiety has gotten so bad. I literally look for excuses to not go out with the kids right now because I don’t want to deal with it.

So I’m forcing the issue. I don’t want to do it, and I feel horrible for doing it, but I just can’t function as a parent anymore if it continues.

My oldest is trying his best. He’s starting to be aware, and I’m getting a lot of “Dad — I mean, Mom” from him. My youngest is 3 1/2 years old and doesn’t really understand what’s going on; I’m just hoping that she picks up on it when the other kids do it consistently. And my middle child …

Oh, the middle child. Dawn is my firecracker, my spitfire, my willful one. She has not only pushed back against the idea of calling me ‘Mom,’ she has actively said she will never do it, and then she’ll proceed to chant “Dad! Dad! Dad!” deliberately. My ex and I both have talked to her, tried to reason with her, but she’s stubborn. In recent days she seems to have softened her stance a bit, especially since I won’t respond to her requests if she prefaces them with ‘Dad,’ but I know she’s got a long way to go before she accepts it.

I was always afraid of hurting my kids with my transition, and I don’t want this to be that moment. I only hope we make it through without any lasting emotional scars.

New URL — What Do You Think?

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I’m finally here! I finally got the new URL up and running. Hooray!

And I am 95% happy with the design right now. I know, never satisfied, right? But this is close. It wasn’t what I had in my head, but it’s something I can work with for awhile. I might change the colors a bit, rescale the post font some, probably redo the logo at some point to fix some (to me) obvious issues. But for now, this is my new blog home and I couldn’t be happier.

If you followed me on WordPress.com, your subscription should have migrated over. At least, I hope it did. Let me know if it didn’t. Also, ariamythe.wordpress,com should be redirecting here automatically. I hope.

Anyway, I’ve felt a little writer-blocked while I tried to finish this up, so posts have been rare of late. I have a lot to write about, though, so expect more content this week.

On the Job Front

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GiganticScreenshot-Naga

So here’s some good news: I got a job. It’s not the kind of job that will put food on the table, pay the mortgage, and cover health insurance, but it is a job nonetheless.

More importantly, it is a job writing. Specifically, I am now a contributor to Gamer Headlines, a video game news site. It’s sort of a “work as much as you can” job, without set hours or an hourly salary. I get paid by pageview, which is common in Internet writing. You can follow the articles I’m writing here, though I don’t know that they will be the kind of articles of interest to readers here.

Of more interest to this blog, I think, is that this writing job means I am still able to work as myself and not as Him. I’ve been writing under my own name since last year and this job was not a reason to change that. In fact, I applied under my real name, acknowledging on the resume that some of my writing had been published under another name, and sat back awaiting the questions. They never came. Experience and writing samples — that’s what counted.

If this job  shakes out over the next couple of weeks, I intend to go ahead and legally change my name. No more fear, no more half-steps. I’m embarking on a new career, and I want to be myself as I do it.

Being Alison Hudson

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deadparrot

So it’s a day later and the decision’s been made. I’m retiring Alison Edwards. As a nom de plume, she is no more. She has ceased to be. She’s expired and gone to meet her maker.She’s off the twig. She’s a stiff. She’s bereft of life. She rests in peace. She’s curled up her tootsies and shuffled of this mortal coil. She’s run up the curtain and joined the choir invisible. She fucking snuffed it!

Sorry. Couldn’t resist.

So for readers who did not know (and I think I’ve mentioned it on here before), by legal last name is Hudson, and that’s the name I’m writing as now, too, for all the reasons I stated in the last post. It’s just easier this way, at a time when I need things to be a little less complicated all around. So …

HI, I’m Alison Paula Hudson. Pleased to meet you.

I would like to think that Alison Edwards isn’t dead, merely resting. The name may come back in come capacity in the future, for some purpose, somewhere. But for now, she is an ex-Alison.

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