“What is it like for you being a Trans gamer?” I’ve been asked this question a few times, never knowing how to answer it exactly. I mean, to me, it feels like someone just asked me what it is like to have hazel colored eyes; I just have them. But am I just a Trans gamer? Being a gamer is a large part of who I am. I spend most of my social interactions either playing games with others or talking about games. My passion is Magic: the Gathering. Its is so much a part of my life that I travel the United States to participate in tournaments and even became a judge. So, when I think about my experience as a Trans gamer, I have my life as a Magic player and judge to look at.
The first memory I have is the last Pro Tour Qualifier I played for the PT Nagoya season in 2010. It was the first time that I played outside my local card shop under the name Amanda. However, I felt it was safer to present male. Why? It was hard enough for me to play at such a competitive level. Adding the worry that someone would say something about how I looked wasn’t on the list of things I wanted to do. My first round opponent asked if my name was really Amanda. I said, “Yes.” Later round opponents would make comments about never hearing Amanda being a guy’s name. I would correct them, saying I was girl. A raised eyebrow later and we were back to just playing the match.
It wouldn’t be until I went to Grand Prix Providence in 2011 that I would actually face a direct form of ignorance. Like any other girl on a warm day, I decided to wear a simple sundress to the event because it would be comfy and I would stay cool. At some point, someone in a staff shirt approached me between rounds and asked why I was dressed this way. Before I could even answer, she proceeded to say that a guy at her local store wore wigs and crazy hats to throw off his opponents. She wanted to know if I was cross dressing to put my opponents on tilt.
I understand that I don’t fit the conventional ideal of how a female should look. I am built like a martial artist because I am one, so I have a broad upper body. I lack estrogen-laden curves and had short hair at the time. This was around the time I started wearing breast forms to pass better. Point? I was doing my darnedest to be seen as a girl. And yet here I was presented with an unprovoked assumption I was cross dressing as some type of gag when nothing about my outfit was outrageous.
A plain red summer dress, black tights, and blue converses. The situation was humiliating to me. It also soured me pretty hard to competitive Magic. Dealing with these interactions wasn’t something I wanted to be a part of.
Unfortunately, I had to at least go to a Star City Games Open in Worcester, Massachusetts. The hotel I booked for my friends and I was in my name and I had a family discounted rate so I couldn’t just hand it off to one of them. Once again, I decided to be truer to myself and not present male. I felt insecure the entire time. Where once I had confidence in my appearance, my experience at Providence had shaken that. I was hyper aware of every glare, snicker, and comment I could tell was being mouthed. Playing the Standard Open was a nightmare. My focus was never on my matches. I scrubbed out with a 1-3-1 record.
With my team was off doing their own thing, I was forced to socialize. I made friends with some local players and with alterist Lindsay Burley and her boyfriend Anthony Wilson. Meeting them was the saving grace of the trip and forced me to relax. All the friends I made at this event are still friends with me now. Especially Lindsay and Anthony. I took away a lesson from this. If I surround myself with friends and make new ones, the background “noise” wouldn’t matter.
I applied this theorem to every event I’ve gone to since. The worst I get nowadays is hearing things second-hand. I’ve heard from friends and fellow judges about comments they’ve heard people make in my direction or about me. I do a lot not to focus on them. Outside of just getting a whole slew of surgeries there is nothing I can do to fit people’s standards of femininity.
You’re probably wondering what my local community is like. To be honest, there isn’t much to be said. My local play community is pretty fantastic as far as respecting who I am. It was a rough start since, for many of them, I was the first Trans person they knew. It was especially harder on players who knew me before I came out. But, they always have my back. Does that mean they don’t slip up and use male pronouns? Sure, they screw up. But they’re always quick to correct themselves.
“What is it like for you being a Trans gamer?” The answer is pretty simple. It is just like being any other gamer. I get a little nervous before a big tournament; calm when I see old friends and make new ones. I am elated when I win matches and down when I lose close ones. The only difference? I probably think about gender a little more than you do.