Fake friends, real pain

Throughout most of my transition, online games were a safehaven. Not always (I’ve been harassed and doxxed) but overall they were more positive than negative.

At a time when my life was utterly devoid of meaning and connection, the friends that I made and played/raided with in lotro (and more recently gw2) helped me through some extremely tough times.

One thing that I’ve always struggled with is the sense of developing stronger feelings/connections to my online friends than they do with me. It hurt to have someone out me to other players. It hurt when those players then trolled me and doxxed me. It hurt when my female friends were so lusted after by other players (which is honestly gross and creepy) not because of the attention, but because of the divide it reinforced between me and other women. I’m trans, they aren’t. They deserve attention and affection, I don’t.

That hurt.

It still hurts.

It may not seem like this relates to the point I want to make, but it does. The point is that online friendships can be real, and cause real joy, and real pain/hurt.

I’ve been struggling with that again lately. I spent most of the summer raiding with a guild in GW2, and while I was always a bit of the shy outcast (they don’t know I’m trans, I’m much more cautious about that these days) there was something to look forward to and enjoy for a few hours each week.

Unfortunately, when the semester started, I had no choice but to take night classes 4 days a week (two classes I needed were only offered one section each, both night classes.) No big deal right, 4 days isn’t every day, there are still three days to raid/play with my friends.

Except they don’t want to. They don’t care to make time to help me now that I can’t fit my schedule to theirs. Worse, the ‘leader’ has been outright hostile about it when I plead for connection and friendship, just telling me to find a new raid group.

Again, that hurts.

It hurts because it means that once again I let myself feel more for these people than they felt for me.

And when I see them raid without me now, it causes very real feelings of rejection and loss.

It hurts.

Dumbfounded

I woke up numb. And as reality set in, the tears came.

My aunt put it best last night:

“Right this second, what bothers me the most is that I don’t understand my country.”

President Trump.
Republican Majority in the House and the Senate.
An open supreme court seat because the senate succeeded in stonewalling Obama’s appointment of Garland.

In one day we’ve validated and endorsed obstructionist politics; we’ve told the republicans it’s ok to hold the government hostage, and stonewall the President, the American people don’t care/won’t act.

In one day we’ve told every misogynist and racist that their actions and hate are not only allowable, but to be lauded; they’re presidential qualities now.

In one day we’ve validated rape culture.

In one day the United States has halted (or started the process of reversing) ~30-50 years of social progress.

How am I supposed to be feel about this as a trans-woman who’s still homeless, and reliant on social welfare programs (e.g. Pel Grants, Medi-Cal) to survive and try and rebuild my life?

Back to reality.

Today I made the mistake of browsing through a friends photo library on Facebook.

I know, never trust Facebook to be an accurate representation of anyone’s real life, but even still, it was sobering.

Even if you accept from the start that Facebook is basically a “highlight reel” for people, how does someone reconcile that against their own inability to measure up?

It was a stark reminder of who I am compared to other people my age, and a reminder of the potential for how anyone’s individual happiness can negatively impact other people.

This brings me back to relationships and the effect of dealing with depression, and anxiety. Can someone with such an aching, consuming sadness in their life (like me) ever feel good about lowering the max potential happiness level for another human being?

I doesn’t really relate perfectly (maybe not at all?) but I’m reminded of another old zefrank episode, from September 21, 2006, about the science of happiness:

Admittedly this video is closing on a decade old now, but the book it references (“Stumbling on Happiness”) is still relevant, maybe more so today than ever before.

Another day, another source of anxiety

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So has this popped up in your Facebook, Twitter or Reddit feed yet?

It’s shown up two or three times for me already, and it’s frustrating, and then then I think about it a little bit here and there thought the day, and it becomes downright depressing..

“Oh look, another gorgeous, perfectly stealth trans woman that thinks the bigots even notice her.”

The trans woman in that selfie passes for female, 100% stealth. Full stop.

Regardless of how absurd the HB2 law in North Carolina is to most of us, it never would have actually applied to her. For her, HB2 as it exists today is literally unenforceable. For me though, it’s a very real fear/anxiety every time I use a public restroom.

Nobody would ever notice if she went in there, unless she decided to go out of her way to draw attention to herself… like taking a selfie and posting it online. And for all the “allies” out there… remember that there are always second and third order consequences.

Is the HB2 law bullshit? I sure think so. But this trans woman has now basically validated the outrage and hate of the closed minded people who think this law is necessary to help with “protecting their children.” Those people now have something to point to, they have a target, and will just be even more angry and violent about it.

Bigots won’t stop being bigots because of this selfie.

And all people, supportive of trans rights or not, that see this selfie will be just a little bit more unsure and scrutinizing of possible trans people in public.

I’ve already seen it, just shopping at Costco this afternoon.

I don’t pass perfectly like she does, and I never will. I’m 5’10” with a torso like a linebacker, square jaw, massive nose, prominent Adam’s apple, and basically flat chested even after 6 years on HRT; yay genetics. I stand out wherever I go, even when I try as much as possible to just blend in. That’s just the genetic lottery. This trans woman may have lost the “big” lottery by being born trans (and not CIS) in the first place, but she clearly won enough smaller lotteries to pass “stealth” the way she does. I lost all the genetic lotteries, and thanks to this stranger, I get to be reminded of that in public (and on Twitter, Facebook, Reddit, etc.) a little bit more than normal for a few days or weeks now.

It’s just a reminder to me that even among trans people there’s still huge variance among individuals experience.

And none of us has the right to cause extra stress or harassment for anyone else.