Sunday, June 3, 2007

True confessions

Tatsuko Hayashida is one of my closest friends in Second Life. I've written about her in this blog. Now she wants me to write again, for a specific reason.

She wants to tell everyone that she's a biological male in first life. I thought I was going to give gender a rest for a bit, and go back to writing about discoveries in SL or fashion or something less weighty, but Tats has a need, and I want to help her.

I've known for a long time that Tats is male in first life. Way back when, she came out to a small number of friends. She says she's coming out to everyone now because she wants to reveal the real her. "I am two-spirited, TG [transgender], and bisexual, and that's not only what I am but also the foundation of who I am," she wrote in her SL profile. "If I'm not accepted or treated fairly because of this, so be it."

People who cross the gender line in SL have to figure out how to navigate the waters while remaining true to themselves. If SL is about imagination and possibilities that cannot be reached in first life, then there should be no problem in a biological female being a male in SL or a biological male being female in SL. SL is not a game. It's an alternate reality, a "metaverse." It is a world of imagination, at least for now (Linden Lab seems to be trying to back off from that, sadly), but it is also a world of real people with real feelings. And there is no general agreement as to what the "right thing" is in cases like this.

T-girls and T-guys feel that they are expressing their real selves in SL. For some at least, confessing to their biological sex would be providing misleading or incomplete information, information that would likely be misinterpreted, because biological sex and gender identity are two different things. Gender identity isn't something chosen. It's something that happens in the brain and the body. It's innate, like sexual orientation, and it's not either/or. Those whose gender identity differs from their biological sex deal with that fact in various ways. One way is by living their ideal life in SL, freed from the constraints of their biological first life reality. In SL, they can be who they feel they really are despite appearances to the contrary.

But no one can or should impose his or her views on others. If someone says that the biological sex of an SL lover matters, it does. For some, it matters a great deal, and there's nothing wrong with that. For others, only SL counts. What you see is what you get. And there's nothing wrong with that.

That's how it works for me. I still see Tatsuko as a beautiful girl. I did before I knew, and I did after. We have made love in the time after I knew her first life biological reality, and it didn't matter to me. Her in-world presence is what counts for me. I find this is true for other cross-gender people I know in SL. I can force myself to think of them as their first life sex, but it's not easy. It seems to come naturally to treat them as they appear in SL.

I love Tatsuko regardless of what is between her first life legs. But then, even though our relationship is between two real persons, it's also expressed entirely through our SL of imagination.

I'm not unique, but I don't know how common my view is. I know many disagree. And Tats herself is feeling that she has been deceptive. I think she might be flogging herself excessively, but she feels the way she does. So she has now chosen the path of being female in SL but publicizing her first life biological sex in her SL profile, right on the first tab. People who know her and people who meet her will have to decide for themselves which is reality for them. Maybe it's both.

1 comment:

Zavijava Voom said...

Thank you so much for posting this. It has led my partner and I to "out" her in SL and thanks to your wonderful counselling we feel at peace and also excited about the new beginning. So far so good with telling our friends that the woman they think I am married to is actually physically male. All have been wonderful to us so far!