• Me: A Re-Introduction

    by  • March 14, 2012 • People & Events • 9 Comments

    Back in the day, I was pretty well-known in the indie rpg community. I was an early adopter of The Forge and still have a very credible post count over there. I wrote a couple games that people seemed to like, and playtested the shit out of a lot of others. I was a regular Forge Booth staffer, and although I always felt a little out of place there, I did get to know many awesome people.

    And then I disappeared from the face of the game community entirely.

    Not coincidentally, that was about when I transitioned gender roles.

    How my transition impacted my involvement in the gaming community might not be entirely clear. It doesn’t totally make sense to me either. Part of it was that I no longer had the time to participate in online discussions. Part of it was that I was extremely fragile and very tired; I was already reinventing myself in front of my wife, my family, my friends, and my co-workers…I just didn’t have the energy to do that in front of yet another group of people. And still another part was that I wasn’t playing games anymore, let alone designing them, and without games, I had no point of access to the community.

    But in June of 2010, under a dark cloud of moral conservatism and bigotry, I was let go from the job I had held for 14 years. To save money, I moved in with my best friend – Matt Gwinn, designer of Kayfabe – and because I had nothing better to do, I joined his ongoing Pathfinder game. Now, I hate Pathfinder, but I did rediscover the joy of roleplaying, and pretty soon I was gaming all over the place again. The Laundry, Warhammer Fantasy RolePlay 3rd Edition, Secret Games Whose Names I Can Not Speak, and so on.

    But I never reconnected with the gaming community at large. In the time I was gone, stuff had happened. The Forge downsized, Story Games became a thing, Vincent Baker wrote a bunch of games. I was out of the loop entirely…I didn’t know the jargon any more, didn’t know a lot of the people. Wasn’t sure how safe an environment it was. I tried a couple times to recapture the old magic, but it was gone.

    That’s sort of a long way of saying I don’t know how I got here. Oh, I know the mechanics of it: wundergeek invited me. But it’s weird to me that I’ll be talking to many of the same old people (and a lot of new ones) again not because of my games, but because of my gender.

    So what am I going to be talking about? Probably how games are different for me now. How the community is different for me now. Maybe how I feel about the stuff I wrote back in the day, and what I would do differently now. Lots and lots of trans stuff. I’m also open to suggestions…I’ll even do Trans 101 up to a point 1. I do ask, however, for those of you who know me to refrain from leaving identifying information in the comments, including references to things I may have written pre-transition.

    And on that note, I offer you this…a game (of sorts) by a trans woman about what transition is like for (some) trans women.


    Not exactly what I went through, but pretty damn close. I’m currently playing the sequel, the first two levels of which are “Unemployment Bullshit” and “Intimacy Bullshit”. More on both of those later, I have no doubt.

    1. although Natalie Reed’s A Transgender Manual of Style does a lot of that work for me, and should be mandatory reading for cis people. Especially the portion below the glossary.


    I'm a queer trans woman who lives somewhere in Michigan with my cat Rufus. Yes, he *is* named after the cat in Re-Animator, how kind of you to ask.

    9 Responses to Me: A Re-Introduction

    1. avatar
      March 14, 2012 at 16:13

      This is really neat, Renee! I really look forward to reading about your experiences and perspective. Thanks for being so open and putting yourself out there!

      Thumb up Thumb down 0
      • avatar
        March 14, 2012 at 21:56

        Thanks Kira. :-)

        I’ve always been willing to put myself out there. I understand why many trans people don’t want to talk about their experiences or their pasts (42% unemployment rate and 20% homelessness in the U.S., 1 in 16 homicide rate worldwide), that’s just not me. Everyone has a gender identity; cisgender people get to talk about theirs all the time, without interrogation. I want to be able to do the same with mine.

        Plus, gender is just sooooo much fun to talk about.

    2. avatar
      March 14, 2012 at 16:18

      dys4ia is great. A truly effective way to communicate the experience of the author. Thanks for linking that up.
      And thanks for being here with us.

      Thumb up Thumb down +1
      • avatar
        March 14, 2012 at 21:57

        Thanks Giulia! It’s been a pleasure so far.

        And yeah, dys4ia really is great.

    3. avatar
      Angela Craft
      March 14, 2012 at 16:29

      Glad you’re here, Renee. Thanks for the Transgender Manual of Style link! (And as a former Michigan resident, say hello to my home state for me!)

      Thumb up Thumb down +1
      • avatar
        March 14, 2012 at 22:03

        Hi Angela!! Michigan says hi back. It’s beautiful here today, in a way that really makes me worry about climate change. Sunny and in the high 60s, with birds singing and trees starting to bud. Scary stuff.

        Natalie Reed is something, no? Most of the time it’s like she reached into my brain and plucked out the half-formed contents…I can’t think of a time I’ve actually disagreed her. She’s also a bit of a game wonk herself…she’s proposed a couple of designs, always with a social justice bent, and at least one of those I’m going to talk about in an upcoming post. I really recommend everyone subscribe to her blog.

        • avatar
          Angela Craft
          March 15, 2012 at 14:24

          We only had two days of snow here in NYC this year. One before Halloween, and a second in January. SO WEIRD. I definitely worry about the climate change implications here (and wonder just how miserably hot this summer is going to get if we’ve already hit 70 in March).

          I can’t wait to hear more about her social justice games. I love anything with a social justice bent – I love having my all parts of my brain really engaged, even when “just” playing a game.

          Thumb up Thumb down +1
    4. avatar
      March 16, 2012 at 18:21

      Renee, thank you for joining us. I’ve already learned so much. I was curious but I was taught it’s just not good manners to ask about personal matters like this unless you really know someone. And I was worried about hurting someone’s feelings or making that person feel ‘less.’

      Thumb up Thumb down 0
      • avatar
        March 16, 2012 at 19:01

        Hey Arlene! It’s been good getting to know everyone so far.

        RE: Curiosity: Basically, you were taught right, I’d say. Most trans people have already answered so many questions, many of them probing and invasive and asked in totally inappropriate circumstances, that even well-meaning inquiries can be really triggery and/or angry-making. Some people just want to live their lives and put the trans stuff behind them, and that’s totally fine. Others are fine talking about it, but don’t necessarily want to play Wikipedia for everyone and their brother.

        But education can be an important part of activism, particularly where potential allies are involved, and I don’t mind doing that stuff. My life has been so touched by prejudice, and others so much more so than my own, that I feel I need to do something to promote understanding. All I ask is that people recognize how these conversations can be difficult – I am going to talk about how cissexism underlies a lot of assumptions, and I’m probably going to answer certain questions with more questions – and join me in being vulnerable when we have them.

    Comments are closed.