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Go Gamer Girl, Go!

| Aug 29, 2016
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Dealers Room 4

As with many areas of life things post transition can be dramatically different depending on which side of the journey you happen to be on. I found this especially true when it came to all of my geeky endeavors. Long before my transition I was you what you would call a nerd. Not the cool way either, like it is in view today, but in a Revenge of the Nerds sort of way. Back in the 1970s I was huge into the original Star Trek TV series and would even carry around the James Blish novelizations of the episodes in high school. I recall being embarrassed when once caught reading in class as my Chemistry teacher in the middle of his lesson said “We will be going over the periodic table and then Hutchinson here will tell us who poisoned the Quadrotriticale!” It was in high school that I first got into what was at the time consider another nerdy hobby, board gaming.

When I mention board gaming many will no doubt think of such terrible games as Monopoly, Sorry or some other kids game. That is not what I am talking about at all as strategy board gaming is much more of an adult hobby and is huge in Europe. The games I would play simulated all sorts of things from playing a primate tribe trying to hunt a mastodon to a rail baron trying to make the most money while growing their railroad and trying to tank the other baron’s stocks.

Since 1982 I have held weekly game sessions with my best friend from high school Jim as the co-founder. We have had many come and go in the group over the decades (over thirty at last count), but Jim and I have always been there. Of course when I was going to transition Jim was one of the first I told. Before I even told him he handed me a card saying that he didn’t care what I was going to say, he would support and love me. Great friends like Jim are few and far between and I consider him not only my best friend, but my brother. As for the rest of the group, Jim’s brother Jerry, who I’d known since he was in footie pajamas begging to play with us, needed a little time to adjust, but he did rather quickly. Bill, who I’d known for only a few years at that point was on board from the get go. These reactions spoiled me a little as these guys treated me the same as they always had with respect and friendship. This was not the case with some other members of the gaming community.

The action is on board.

The action is on board.

Before my transition I’d decided to drop out of the gaming community (with the exception of my weekly game group) for about six months. I re-emerged at the big local game shop’s annual Halloween party with a costume that was clearly female. My thinking at the time was this would give me the chance to explain that part of my “costume” was more than that. This worked quite well and it was in fact this party where I met Nick, who is now my husband of 14 years, for the first time as my real self. He had met me a few times before briefly. This was also the place where it became clear I had moved down the social ladder when it came to gaming.

This manifested in a variety of ways. For example I’d been playing Magic the Gathering since it came out, but now people felt the need to explain the game to me as if I were a five year old “You see it uses these cards and….” Infuriating. Another thing I quickly found out was that it was hard to get a word in edgewise as apparently my opinion on gaming issues was instantly devalued. This in particular is something that I still sometimes deal with though that has become less of an issue over the last few years. The reason I think is that our culture is changing for the better in that female opinions are in general garnering closer to equal respect in most places combined with the fact that I, as a post fifty person, am perceived far differently than when I was younger.

This shift in the gaming/geek culture is very evident in many aspects including things like gaming convention attendance. I’ve been attending the Origins game convention for many years. In 2000 the convention had about 82% male attendees to the 18% female. I can remember there was even a group of women about that time that would schedule day trips away from the con while their husbands attended. Suffice to say that when approached by this group I passed on the offer. Today I’d estimate the split to be much closer at about 60/40 and I’ve not seen the wives day trip group in about ten years now. This is a pretty awesome turn and I fully expect the gap to close further as time moves on.

Diane with some of her gaming friends.

Diane with some of her gaming friends.

In 2013 Nick and I formed our own company for the purpose of publishing our own games. In the process of play testing some of those games I did see the ugly head of sexism rear up again with people questioning my math (which Nick the scientist checks by the way) and outright being general all around jerks when giving me feedback. I can say with absolute certainly they would have never said those things to a man, at least to his face. Still, the vast majority of gamers are wonderful inclusive people. Dexcon, a New Jersey convention I’ve attended for many, many years is especially inclusive and supportive of everyone including LGBTQ people. They’ve had gender neutral bathrooms long before it was “cool” to do so. Gen Con is the biggest U.S. board gaming convention. They are based in Indianapolis and were the first to say that they would take the convention out of the state of Indiana if the horrible anti-LBGTQ directive issued by Governor Mike Pence was not repealed.

The board gaming community today not only has become more mainstream and widely accepted and it has become very inclusive to all of us. If you are not a person that plays board or card games or attends such conventions, I suggest you give it a try as I doubt you will be disappointed.

A fairly comprehensive list of annual game conventions can be found online. If you are interested in checking out Diane and Nick’s games head to our website.

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Category: Transgender Body & Soul


About the Author ()

Diane was born and raised in New Jersey. She has two fully grown sons and a husband of thirteen years. Diane runs a two small businesses and in her spare time enjoys strategy board gaming.

Comments (1)

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  1. Sophie Lynne Sophie Lynne says:

    I worked in the gaming industry for 13 years: first at Chessex Game distributors and at TSR as a freelance editor, then at Games Workshop.

    I started gaming in 1977. I pretty much stooped when GW released me in 2003. I miss gaming. I miss the cameraderie.

    I miss losing myself.

    I DONT miss working conventions, with the bad smells and rude people. But, I miss attending them. Maybe someday i will again. 🙂

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