My “RL” alt

You may remember a few years ago I made an alt to resemble how I looked in real life?  Well, times have changed and I’ve changed, so I’ve been working on him and upgrading his look.

Now that I look more masculine in RL, I have found it much easier to get a male skin that looks right (though finding one that lacked washboard abs and didn’t look like a twink was hard). I eventually found one at Egoisme.

New look

New look

I only wear clothes with this avatar that I own in real life too.  This is a mesh jeans and shirt combo from Hoorenbeek.

Face fuzz

Face fuzz

Just the right amount of facial hair, in exactly the right place. This is part of a tintable set from SAAL.

Surgery scars

Surgery scars

I even made an attempt at surgery scars but they look more like I’ve been drawing on myself with a sharpie.

Finally (and no pic for this cos it’s way NSFW) Janzoe do a set of “herm” genitals that totally look like what a pre-op FTM has.  They’re old and I’d love to see an updated, better-textured version (or a mod version that I can retexture myself), but to exist at all in SL is pretty remarkable really.

Finally here’s a recent pic of me in RL for comparison. Sorry it’s so small, I had to crop it from a family shot.

RL me - Sept 2013

RL me – Sept 2013

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gosh, I’m a griefer

There are two things you need to know first, about my partner Madison. First, that she was raised a Mormon. Second, that she just LOVES musicals.  Inevitably she has wanted to go and see “The Book of Mormon” since it first came out. Yesterday she IM’d me all excited because she had just heard that she’s won two tickets to go and see it in Chicago on Independence Day.

So she decided to dress up as a Mormon missionary, just for fun, and I did the same.  We even made group tags for ourselves; Elder Luminos and Elder Talon.  Then she found that there was a Mormon church in SL, so we went to look, and took some snapshots.

bom sl 2

bom sl

At this point, someone who belongs to the SL church came in, took offense at our costumes and group tags, and promptly ejected us as griefers.

This was funny, but it took a new turn today when I discovered that our “griefing” escapade has made the hallowed pages of SLU’s PRS forum.   Note in particular, the comments by a user named Karen.  In particular, this one.

I mean ..(hahahaha) were you going to convince people that your crossing dressing weirdness was correct by pretending you were LDS missionaries?
Sorry that your confusion of your X Y chromosomes makes you think your are a female. X Y means you are a dude. X X means you are a female. If you feel any other way…well you have few wires crossed and need to see a head shrink so that you get it right next time around.

Yes, I am transsexual. Yes, I have XX chromosomes and (only partly, now) female anatomy.  Those things have nothing to do with whether I’m a man or a woman and modern psychiatry understands that well now.   How my status as a transman is related in any way, shape or form to my visit to the SL Mormon Tabernacle, I have no effing clue.  Perhaps it makes some sort of sense in Karen’s distorted thought-processes.

I feel sorry for Madison, knowing that the church in which she was raised is populated by people like this.  Homophobic, transphobic.  It’s no wonder people call them the “Moron church”.  Some of them bring it on themselves every time they speak.

I have never been a griefer before. I wonder if I get a certificate?

Girly me

There was a thread on the SLU forums about showing off your alt of the opposite sex from yourself. You know, everyone has one, to try out those clothes or test poseballs… ahem.

Well, I don’t really have a girly alt (Salo is more butch than me, and my lady hobbit ended up getting deleted when I got bored with it).

And I started to wonder, what would Lewis Luminos look like if he were…Louise Luminos? So I went into Edit Appearance, clicked the “female” button, did a little tweaking… and then I went shopping.

I’m actually really pleased with this result. She could be my sister.

I’m tempted to sign up a new alt now, but I know what women are like. They just steal your credit card and spend all your money. (Actually I spent less than L$100 on this avatar – the only thing I bought was the top (L$10) and the shoes (L$75 for a fatpack) – everything else was either free, or already in my inventory.

Stats:

  • Shape: Mine
  • Skin: Eloh Eliot freebie
  • Hair: Calico Ingmann
  • Eyes: Mine
  • Top: Pixeldolls
  • Pants: Eros
  • Shoes: Duh

genderbending

I can’t believe I did this. Tonight was a “genderbending” event at Lounge of Dreams. I don’t normally get to go to these events because they’re late, but sleepless nights have their advantages. Or, er, disadvantages.

So I hopped across to the Free Dove first, because womens clothing is something I just don’t carry in my inventory, and here I am. In a dress. With a beard. And heels (that are no mod, and buried somewhere in my big feet)

090503_001

090503_002

The cute “boy” I’m dancing with is Arilynn.

You know, when Alice gets back from holiday and sees this, she’s going to laugh her head off.

Gender and Disclosure in Second Life

This is a collection of thoughts that sprang out of an interesting thread on the SLU forums, in which the OP lamented the fact that as a lesbian woman, she found it incredibly difficult to find other genuine RL lesbians with whom to form relationships, and instead was disppointed by the number of “lesbians” who were, in fact, straight men with female avatars. The purpose of this post is to correlate my thoughts on this and related matters, and expand on them a bit. Be warned for tl;dr.

This whole issue is an ethical minefield, and because of my own situation it is also one that touches very close to home.

The main question that seems to arise from this situation is, if your RL gender does not match the gender of your avatar, at what point, if ever, does it become mandatory to disclose this fact? And at what point does failure to disclose it become an act of deliberate deceit? The general consensus was “it depends”, and the things it depends on vary from one person to another, and one situation to another.

It is fairly accurate to say that the majority of SL users fall into one of two camps.; On the one hand you have people who take other people’s SL avatars at face value, and they do not mind if reality differs from that; they treat the other person as though they are who their avatar appears to be. On the other hand you have the group of people for whom SL is a tool for interacting with a RL person, and for that group, the identity of the typist is far more important than the identity of the avatar. The problems arise when a person from one group hooks up with a person from the other group and one or both of them have not made their position clear from the outset.

The situation that arose in the original post is clearly one of deceit. A straight guy wanting a bit of hot girl-on-girl pixel-porn dresses up in a girl’s avatar, goes to a lesbian club and picks up another girl and starts dating her. Only after several days does he confess that he’s really a guy. Kudos for him that he actually admitted it at all, many don’t, ever. But to string her along for days, to take her on dates under false pretenses… the deceipt began with the first IM, and I think that is despicable.; The amusing thing about all of that is the thought that two blonde lipstick lesbians hooking up are actually two straight guys both of which would be absolutely horrified if they thought they were wanking off to another bloke.

This leads to the development in SL of the A/S/L – pics – voice – webcam conundrum, where many guys are just too afraid to get involved without knowing for absolutely certain that the female avatar they’re chatting with is a female in RL. It starts with A/S/L – but the girl might be lying. So they ask for RL pics. But they might be pics of someone else – so they ask for Voice – but that might be cheating using a voice modulator – so they demand web-camming… and so it goes on. (And makes me wonder why they are even bothering trying to pick up girls online at all if their paranoia is so great that they distrust everyone they meet).

But there are other reasons for guys (or girls) to have avatars that do not match their own RL gender, and here’s where the ethical waters start to get murky.

Lets take situation two. Woman A is, in RL, a bisexual female with a slight preference for other women. She is of the type of player that really doesn’t care about anyone else’s RL identity – she takes everyone at face value, and states openly that she does not mind if the person behind the keyboard is male or female. Woman B is in RL a straight man who is experimenting with a female avatar for fun and personal curiosity, just to see what it’s like. He choses NOT to tell woman A that he is male in RL. They hook up and have a lot of fun together. Is that deceipt too?

Now lets look at situation three. A post-operative transsexual woman, who was born biologically male, but fully identifies as female, has completed medical transition and has offically changed gender and become female. She has a female avatar in SL. Is this deceipt? Is there a point at which it becomes essential for her to disclose her previous gender?

Situation four – same woman, with a female avatar in SL, but ten years younger, and this time still pre-op. Maybe cross-dressing full time in RL, and identifying internally as female, but still having a RL body which is physically male.Is this different from situation 3, and if so, on what grounds?

This is the situation that matches my own, except the other way round, gender-wise. I regard myself as transgendered, female to male; I cross-dress near enough 24/7/365, but for practical reasons (mainly financial ones) I have not and probably will never make the magic medical transition. So… is it unethical of me to not disclose this to all I meet in-world? It’s an odd situation, being transgendered in SL, because I don’t feel that it’s my SL avatar thats the wrong gender. My SL gender is right, it’s my RL avatar that’s wrong. I cannot possibly say that I’m female in RL because this is blatantly not true – there’s nothing female about me except for my reproductive organs. At the same time, I can’t honestly say that I’m male because physically, I am not. The only way out of this dilemma I can find, without deliberately lying, is to be completely up-front and honest about being transgendered. Unfortunately doing that has totally ruined any chance I might have had of any sort of relationship in SL – straight girls and gay guys don’t want to know because I’m not male. Lesbians and straight guys don’t want to know because I’m not female.

In the end, I’m fairly unusual as far as transgendered/transsexual people in SL go. Most of them do not disclose at all, partly because it ruins the immersion, and partly because in many cases SL is the only place where they can truly pass as being the gender they feel they should be. I certainly would not expect a transgendered person to disclose their RL situation. As far as I’m concerned, a TG man is a man and a TG woman is a woman, regardless of the genitals they were born with. But then again I am bisexual and it really makes no difference to me if my partner is male, female, or somewhere inbetween. I can understand it being different for someone who is 100% gay or 100% straight, where the mere thought of being with someone of the wrong gender is a complete physical turn-off. So I can see how, for some lesbian women, that a transgendered woman doesn’t quite meet the required standard.

The problem is not everyone who has a male body in RL and a female avatar, is either TS or TG. Some of them are just straight guys wanting to watch a bit of hot girl-on-girl porn and they figure the easiest way to get it is to be one of those girls. Its these straight guys playing sexual games for their own entertainment, those are the asshats that are being deliberately deceitful. But where do we draw the line, if the other woman (as in Situation #2 above) says that she doesn’t mind? Would it be deceitful for a guy (maybe a closet gay or bi-curious guy) to put on a female avatar and pretend to be a straight girl for me? I’m inclined to say no, I don’t consider that deceitful, because gender isn’t a deciding factor for me. Likewise I would believe it’s not deceipt for the woman in situation 2 either.

One thing is for certain – every situation is going to be different, and the answers to the above questions will not be the same for everybody. The most important thing in any relationship, whether it’s in SL or not, is for both parties to be absolutely clear with each other right at the outset, what they’re looking for,l and if one of them does not match the others’ needs then it’s just wrong to lie about it.

With all of that in mind, I updated my SL profile today.

An experiment in gender ambiguity

The past three days or so, I have been playing with an alt, for the purpose of conducting a little experiment. I wanted to see if it would be possible to make an avatar that looks like me in RL. And I’m rather amazed to say, I actually can.

Meet Salo Tiratzo.

Salo is made off a female shape which I’ve created myself to match my RL body as close as possible (although I’ve stuck to an average-for-SL height rather than my actual RL height, becaue I’m average in RL). The skin shown here is a freebie female skin without makeup on offer from Blowpop, although I’ve also been switching into a number of other skins, mainly male ones based off the Eloh Eliot templates, which look pretty good on this avatar. The trouble with a female skin is how bad it looks naked with the breast sliders set to 10 and the big painted-on shadow that belongs to a D-cup.

I gave up trying to match the hair, because mine is so short in RL (I have it as short as it’ll go without using clippers) and hair this short just doesn’t look good in SL. So I’ve ended up with this, which is what my RL hair looks like if it wasn’t cut for 3 months. This one is a freebie from Philotic Energy (can you tell I love that store?) which I settled on because her Dark Ash colour is almost an exact match.

The glasses are a freebie from nea-Ban via Sarah Nerds, and the shirt is purchased from Bare Rose (donated from my main av, because they’re transferrable and I’ve been reliably informed that I can’t wear red with ginger hair).

For purposes of comparison, here’s me in RL:

This whole experiment has been very interesting, firstly because of how surprisingly easy it was to create this very androgynous appearance – even though Salo is wearing both a female skin and a female shape, the appearance is so far off what people expect of female that other people have assumed male. Which is what tends to happen in RL too. So even a transgendered female avatar in SL can “pass”.

Also because it raises some interesting questions about how I relate to and identify with my avatars. They’re both me, without any doubt. To begin with, I find myself wanting gender-neutral pronouns with Salo, which is odd because when I think of myself in RL there’s no ambiguity at all – I may have female bits but I am definitely male, without any shadow of doubt. So when I’m thinking about myself, I think of myself as “he”, completely. Same goes for Lewis of course.  With Salo, I want to be using both he and she, or neither, all at once. I’m tempted to use both, alternating at random, even in the same sentence.

One odd thing, is when I dream, I never have the same body in the dream that I have in RL. It’s always tall, ginger-haired and male. Someone on the SL forum mentioned the concept of “Residual self-image” and I think thats a big clue to what my residual self-image is like. A lot like Lewis, actually.  And that springboards into a whole psychological maelstrom of gender dysmorphia, body issues and related topics.  Which I could get into here but I won’t. Thats a topic probably best saved for my RL blog.

I think I will keep Salo, at least for now.