Etiquette Hell

General Etiquette => Techno-quette => Topic started by: Miss Unleaded on November 17, 2013, 02:47:37 AM

Title: Transgender online
Post by: Miss Unleaded on November 17, 2013, 02:47:37 AM
I've read that the correct way to refer to transgender people is with the pronoun of the gender they're presenting.  So a man who feels like a woman but hasn't yet started the transition should still be referred to as 'he'.  If they have transitioned to female appearance, 'she' is the appropriate pronoun.  I was wondering how this applies to situations where the gender is not obvious?

I have a transgender friend I've talked into coming to play an MMO with me.  S/he is still living as a man and was having doubts as to whether s/he would in fact swap to being female, but she has asked me to use 'she' in game. I'm worried about how my online friends will react when/if they find out that the person they assumed was female both looks and sounds like a man in person.  I don't want to offend my friend by treating him as a guy, but I also don't want to lie to my other, online friends and I feel like calling my friend 'she' is close to lying.

If anyone has any perspective to offer on this situation I would appreciate it.  It's not a usual situation for me.


Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: RingTailedLemur on November 17, 2013, 03:13:08 AM
Use the pronoun the person in question wants.

If anyone else has an issue with that, it's not your fault or your problem.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: iridaceae on November 17, 2013, 04:36:41 AM

I have a transgender friend I've talked into coming to play an MMO with me.  S/he is still living as a man and was having doubts as to whether s/he would in fact swap to being female, but she has asked me to use 'she' in game. I'm worried about how my online friends will react when/if they find out that the person they assumed was female both looks and sounds like a man in person.  I don't want to offend my friend by treating him as a guy, but I also don't want to lie to my other, online friends and I feel like calling my friend 'she' is close to lying.

If anyone has any perspective to offer on this situation I would appreciate it.  It's not a usual situation for me.

She wants to be called she. She may undergo surgery,  she may not,  but she feels herself to be female. Calling her she is not close to lying in my book. And for all you know your other online friends night be undergoing/have undergone gender reassignment as well.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Pen^2 on November 17, 2013, 05:16:02 AM
As others have said. If someone identifies with a particular gender and has asked you to use the corresponding pronouns, then you should do it. That's the considerate thing to do, and fortunately, it's becoming more standard nowadays. It isn't lying in the same way that calling someone a nickname they prefer to go by instead of their name on their birth certificate isn't lying.

If someone gets upset at that, then that's their problem.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Miss Unleaded on November 17, 2013, 05:28:46 AM
Thanks for the feedback all.  I will follow your advice.

One of the other reasons I'm concerned is that this game has very few women playing it (less than 10%), so my friend will almost certainly get male attention and flirting.  I can foresee a future time where this could get awkward when it comes out that my friend isn't genetically female.  I think some of the people I play with are going to feel like I was misleading them by not sharing that information.  But you're right, that's not really my business or my problem.

Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: iridaceae on November 17, 2013, 05:40:37 AM
If any of the guys get an unpleasant surprise that's what they get for assuming any female playing is fresh meat and that she wants to be flirted with.*

*Of course maybe she does. Still doesn't mean they should hit on every female they run across.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: LadyL on November 17, 2013, 08:46:02 AM
Thanks for the feedback all.  I will follow your advice.

One of the other reasons I'm concerned is that this game has very few women playing it (less than 10%), so my friend will almost certainly get male attention and flirting.  I can foresee a future time where this could get awkward when it comes out that my friend isn't genetically female.  I think some of the people I play with are going to feel like I was misleading them by not sharing that information.  But you're right, that's not really my business or my problem.

That is for your friend to navigate, not you. She will have to confront issues of "passing" in person and disclosure in dating situations eventually. Maybe starting online seems less intimidating for her.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Bright on November 17, 2013, 09:32:50 AM
The correct way to refer to transgender people is by the pronouns they ask you to use.

I've found that MMORPGs are frequently full of male players playing female characters, and female players playing male characters, to an extent that you might be surprised with. Of course they're not all, or even most, transgender, but it's also a relatively safe environment for transgender people to start exploring their own gender identity.

It's far easier to make the first tentative steps towards transitioning online, than it is in person. It's safer and if people react badly you can always just turn the computer off.

Do as your friend asks, use female pronouns, and don't out her to anyone. If she wants to tell others that she's transgender then she can in her own time. It's also up to her how she chooses to navigate the flirting.

As for how your online friends will react, that's between your friend and them. Since she's transgender, it's not lying.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 17, 2013, 10:10:49 AM
This is an old study, but a survey of Everquest players found that men and women cross-played (played a character of the opposite gender) in about equal numbers.  However, because the player base was so heavily skewed male, this meant that women made up only ~50% of the female characters, while men made up <90% of male characters.

Anyone who assumes a female character is played by a woman is an idiot.

(And honestly, aside from XBox Live and similar, harassment of women in games like MMORPGs is a lot less than it used to be.  I had more harassment when I played male characters in Warcraft than when I played female.)
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: jedikaiti on November 17, 2013, 10:17:25 AM
Thanks for the feedback all.  I will follow your advice.

One of the other reasons I'm concerned is that this game has very few women playing it (less than 10%), so my friend will almost certainly get male attention and flirting.  I can foresee a future time where this could get awkward when it comes out that my friend isn't genetically female.  I think some of the people I play with are going to feel like I was misleading them by not sharing that information.  But you're right, that's not really my business or my problem.

When I was playing MMOs, I found many people were very surprised that I was a girl, playing a girl character, in a typically male class. The impression I got is that there's a fair amount of gender bending going on anyway and none of it necessarily has anything to do with Real life gender identity.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Pen^2 on November 17, 2013, 11:22:04 AM
When I was playing MMOs, I found many people were very surprised that I was a girl, playing a girl character, in a typically male class. The impression I got is that there's a fair amount of gender bending going on anyway and none of it necessarily has anything to do with Real life gender identity.

I know that when I play anything where I get to choose gender, appearance, etc. I'll tend to try to be something completely different from myself. To me, that's the point of a role-playing game. It's boring to role play someone as similar to yourself as possible. So I usually end up as a blue-skinned male sorcerer orc or something. Not because in real life I identify as male, or an orc, or blue, but just because it's a fun opportunity to make believe. I honestly think that a lot of the time, that's all it is, and it shouldn't be read into too much. That'd be like assuming that someone who is good at Risk is a sociopathic dictator at heart or something. For a lot of us, it's just a game, and we take the opportunity to pretend because the point of a game is to be fun and not mundane. Seasoned players are generally aware of this.

So sure, a person might choose a female character because they identify as female, but they might also choose it because they identify as male and it's fun to play something different, no matter what their biological gender.

Also, the pedant in me wants to point out that biological gender and genetic gender (e.g. XX, XY, etc.) are not necessarily the same thing. Look it up on Wiki though because I'm sure it would be TMI for a lot of people here in a public forum.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Miss Unleaded on November 17, 2013, 12:16:33 PM
When I was playing MMOs, I found many people were very surprised that I was a girl, playing a girl character, in a typically male class. The impression I got is that there's a fair amount of gender bending going on anyway and none of it necessarily has anything to do with Real life gender identity.

It is an RPG, but a lot of people playing it don't role play as such.  There is a chunk of the playerbase who talk and play in character, but those people are a minority.  And it's always a bit of a surprise to me when I talk to someone who unironically treats the lore of the game as part of their game play experience.

Just to clear some things up: in this game, given the mostly male playerbase, people tend to refer to both male and female characters as 'he' unless the player behind the character is known to be female.  My online friends won't assume my real life friend is female because her character is female.  They will assume she's female because I refer to her as 'she'.  I'm sorry that I didn't make that clear earlier.  And that makes me think that I should have spelt that out to my friend because she was probably surprised at my talking about a female character as he.  She might have thought I was trying to make a point out of it.   :-[

Quote

So sure, a person might choose a female character because they identify as female, but they might also choose it because they identify as male and it's fun to play something different, no matter what their biological gender.

Also, the pedant in me wants to point out that biological gender and genetic gender (e.g. XX, XY, etc.) are not necessarily the same thing. Look it up on Wiki though because I'm sure it would be TMI for a lot of people here in a public forum.

Thanks for correcting me. That's a very rare scenario though and has no bearing on the etiquette of the situation, so not sure why you bring it up?
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Pen^2 on November 17, 2013, 12:31:04 PM
Quote
So sure, a person might choose a female character because they identify as female, but they might also choose it because they identify as male and it's fun to play something different, no matter what their biological gender.

Also, the pedant in me wants to point out that biological gender and genetic gender (e.g. XX, XY, etc.) are not necessarily the same thing. Look it up on Wiki though because I'm sure it would be TMI for a lot of people here in a public forum.

Thanks for correcting me. That's a very rare scenario though and has no bearing on the etiquette of the situation, so not sure why you bring it up?

Pedant, nothing more. Sorry. :P
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Tea Drinker on November 17, 2013, 02:11:00 PM
Use the pronouns the person wants. With any luck, the other players will be civilized enough that, even if they meet her in person and are surprised by her appearance, they won't hassle her or you about it.

Also, if it would feel "almost like lying" for you to refer to your friend as "she," that's something you should think about separately. Is it because your friend isn't sure of her gender, or because you're used to thinking of her as male and it would feel dishonest not to tell the other people she's trans*? (Don't out people unless they say it's okay, because there can be safety issues. f you aren't comfortable introducing her to other people as the gender she identifies with, you don't have to--but the answer there is to not introduce her, not to say "this is my trangender friend so-and-so.")
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: katycoo on November 17, 2013, 04:54:05 PM
People who are on teh internet can be whomever they want to be.

If I am looking for a friend, then whatever is prjected to me is good enough.  If I am looking to meet that friend IRL I might care more about whether what was being projected to me was accurate to real-life but I have no obligation to any other person on the internet with respect to what I know, or think I know, about another person.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Twik on November 17, 2013, 06:30:40 PM
Is this a game that you'll be doing something like vent? Because if your friend is intending on becoming fully female, I don't think she would be offended by people treating her as such over the internet at this point in time, even down to flirting. Is your main concern that people will hear a male voice, and be confused?
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: nuit93 on November 17, 2013, 08:31:09 PM
The person in question will let you know which pronoun they prefer.  Some prefer to be identified by the gender they present as, others prefer a gender-neutral pronoun (zie, hir).
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Miss Unleaded on November 18, 2013, 02:54:25 AM
Also, if it would feel "almost like lying" for you to refer to your friend as "she," that's something you should think about separately. Is it because your friend isn't sure of her gender, or because you're used to thinking of her as male and it would feel dishonest not to tell the other people she's trans*? (Don't out people unless they say it's okay, because there can be safety issues. f you aren't comfortable introducing her to other people as the gender she identifies with, you don't have to--but the answer there is to not introduce her, not to say "this is my trangender friend so-and-so.")

Perceptive question.  I think it's because my friend is living as a man, has only come out to a handful of people, and the most recent time we spoke of it, was unsure if she would ever make the transition to living as a woman.  If she was already living as a woman or had even started to transition the question would not have entered my head.  So you're probably correct, I'm still used to thinking of her as a man because the visual queues are missing and it's pretty much a secret to most of our mutual friends and acquaintances. 

I have no intention of outing her, online or anywhere.  It's not my decision to make.

Is this a game that you'll be doing something like vent? Because if your friend is intending on becoming fully female, I don't think she would be offended by people treating her as such over the internet at this point in time, even down to flirting. Is your main concern that people will hear a male voice, and be confused?

I mentioned voice communication to my friend and she said she'd say that her mic is broken.

Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Virg on November 18, 2013, 07:53:42 AM
My thought is, if anyone playing an MMO doesn't understand the idea that they may be flirting with a GIRL (in acronym form it means "guy in real life") then they're not paying attention.  Heck, I had a friend who got so much flirting that he renamed his female toon "Imaguy" and it didn't slow it down much at all.

If she identifies herself as a she online and it's not to commit fraud, then you should do the same.


Miss Unleaded wrote:

"I mentioned voice communication to my friend and she said she'd say that her mic is broken."

I've known several people who did this, and I've known some who either just talk and let others think what they will or use a modulator to alter their voice.  In the end, it's her choice how she wants to handle it, and most groups don't care if you talk over the voice chat as long as you respond to audibles in group settings.  When the raid leader yells, "Don't move when Flame Wreath is cast!" he's not going to care if she doesn't speak as long as she doesn't move.

Virg
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Yvaine on November 18, 2013, 09:13:54 AM
I've read that the correct way to refer to transgender people is with the pronoun of the gender they're presenting.  So a man who feels like a woman but hasn't yet started the transition should still be referred to as 'he'.  If they have transitioned to female appearance, 'she' is the appropriate pronoun.  I was wondering how this applies to situations where the gender is not obvious?

I have a transgender friend I've talked into coming to play an MMO with me.  S/he is still living as a man and was having doubts as to whether s/he would in fact swap to being female, but she has asked me to use 'she' in game. I'm worried about how my online friends will react when/if they find out that the person they assumed was female both looks and sounds like a man in person.  I don't want to offend my friend by treating him as a guy, but I also don't want to lie to my other, online friends and I feel like calling my friend 'she' is close to lying.

If anyone has any perspective to offer on this situation I would appreciate it.  It's not a usual situation for me.

Don't out her birth gender to your online friends. If it comes up someday that she might meet your online friends, let her decide how she wants to deal with that. I find it pretty likely that it'll never even come up, so there's no point in hurting your friend over a hypothetical situation that probably won't come to pass. If she does meet them, it's up to her how she introduces herself and it's up to your friends whether they have prejudices or not.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: guihong on November 18, 2013, 11:09:53 AM
I agree with the advice above, but this reminds me of something my husband said; that if he has to run a character around and spend time gaming, he'd rather look at a female in some skimpy outfit than a guy!
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: GlitterIsMyDrug on November 18, 2013, 11:53:16 AM
If a person asks to be referred to by female pronouns, use female pronouns (and vice versa).

Outing, in the LGBTQ community, is generally frowned upon. Which means if you are introducing Carol to Joan it isn't up to you to say "BTW, Joan used to be Bob", Joan will tell Carol when/if she wants too. And since this on-line, it's not a big deal that Joan hasn't started transitioning.

Coming to terms with who are you, when you who are doesn't meet social norms, is a long and arduous process. It is very personal, requires a lot of self-reflection and self-acceptance. Then announcing that to the world, even longer. Not everyone is accepting, or even polite. A lot of people are down right mean and nasty. So you spend time playing the "How will the take this?" and "How important is that they know" game. If you fear a negative reaction, is it something they really need to know? If Joan never meets Carol IRL, and Joan fears Carol will not be kind, then Joan may never tell Carol.

The fact that your friend has shared something so personal with you that it sounds like she has only just begun to accept herself reflects wonderfully on how much she values your friendship and how much she trusts you. 
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: blarg314 on November 18, 2013, 06:58:43 PM

On the MMO, being a woman is no problem as far as basic on-line etiquette.

Being a woman on an MMO can sometimes be a problem for other reasons.

In your case - do your best not to out him/her in either direction, but don't feel guilty if you accidentally slip up, because keeping two separate identities for someone can be difficult. You need to refer to them as "him" exclusively in real life, because they are not out there. But you need to use "she" exclusively in the game, so as to not out them to their on-line friends. It's easy to slip up in a case like that, because it's something that we don't generally need to do - switch between pronouns in a situational way on a daily basis.

So I might say to your friend that you're happy to call them she, but you are worried that you might accidentally slip up, for the reasons above.

I would be quite interested in your friend's perception in playing MMOs as a woman vs as a man, particularly when it comes to the non-stop flirty, sexually charged comments/insults, and propositions.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Teenyweeny on November 19, 2013, 10:26:12 AM
Use somebody's preferred pronouns. Always, no exceptions. Even if their name is Manly McManson and they only ever wear plaid and open bottles with their teeth, if they prefer female pronouns then you use female pronouns.

If I am unsure of somebody's pronouns, I find that using 'they/them/their' works very well, and is not as noticable as other neutral pronouns.

I actually think that everybody does this subconciously when they don't know the gender of the person they are referring to. See, I just did it in that sentence!

I know that the best thing to do is to ask about pronouns, but I'm too much of a wuss! And the potential for offence is huge.

Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: mspallaton on November 19, 2013, 10:32:29 AM
I mentioned voice communication to my friend and she said she'd say that her mic is broken.

That was my go to.  I'm female and I played a male character in WoW.  As much as there is a lot of cross play - the server I was on had almost no women with male characters and a lot of sexism.  I got a lot more opportunities with people thinking I was male.

That is somewhat off topic, but I shared it for this reason --- whatever the social cues existing in your game, your friend can navigate them.  It isn't easy, but it is a baby step compared to presenting offline as a woman.  This may be her first comfort zone where she tests the water.

I want to commend you on asking the question.  Transgender issues are just recently becoming openly talked about and it is great that you're thinking hard about the right thing to do.  Other posters have explained that you should use the pronoun she wants.  I concur.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Slartibartfast on November 19, 2013, 10:50:00 AM
Even if their name is Manly McManson and they only ever wear plaid and open bottles with their teeth, if they prefer female pronouns then you use female pronouns.


*off to create a new tauren character in WoW*
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: lmyrs on November 21, 2013, 11:54:27 AM
This:

Quote
Even if their name is Manly McManson and they only ever wear plaid and open bottles with their teeth, if they prefer female pronouns then you use female pronouns.

and this:

Quote
Heck, I had a friend who got so much flirting that he renamed his female toon "Imaguy" and it didn't slow it down much at all.

are absolutely awesome.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Allyson on November 21, 2013, 11:25:36 PM
I would rather not be totally 'accurate' with some people online who I'll never meet, than hurt my friend; I do get your worry, but I know a lot of people who started coming out as trans online because of the safety factor.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: DavidH on November 25, 2013, 01:23:52 PM
On line, particularly with people they are unlikely to meet in real life, there seems no reason to disregard their preference.  It may be worth a conversation around do they ever intend to meet any of these people and what to do at that juncture.

IRL, it is, perhaps, a bit more challenging if their only step in transitioning is changing a pronoun.  If you live as one gender, then requesting to be addressed using the other pronoun seems like it's going to present a lot of issues and come across as more attention seeking than anything else.

Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: zyrs on November 27, 2013, 11:55:26 PM
Call your friend by her preferred pronoun.  It's the accurate one.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: blarg314 on November 28, 2013, 04:29:13 AM
On line, particularly with people they are unlikely to meet in real life, there seems no reason to disregard their preference.  It may be worth a conversation around do they ever intend to meet any of these people and what to do at that juncture.

IRL, it is, perhaps, a bit more challenging if their only step in transitioning is changing a pronoun.  If you live as one gender, then requesting to be addressed using the other pronoun seems like it's going to present a lot of issues and come across as more attention seeking than anything else.

I don't see it as attention seeking, particularly.

But it can be very difficult for even well meaning, thoughtful people to change long established patterns of address. Using pronouns, or names of people we've known a long time, are not things we think about each time we do them - they become automatic, and the longer we use them, the more ingrained they can be.

It's not just pronouns - ask anyone who has changed their first name, or tried to ditch an unwanted childhood nickname with their family. The case of changing a pronoun when the appearance isn't changing is significantly more difficult, because traditionally pronouns aren't something that people have chosen - they've been assigned by society. So you're working against both habit and societal conditioning.

In the OP's case, they are trying to use one set of pronouns in one situation, and a different set in another, for the same person. So I wouldn't be surprised if even though they were trying, they still slipped up accidentally  in one situation or the other.


Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: White Lotus on November 29, 2013, 04:45:32 PM
Our neighbor, before she began living as a woman full-time and ultimately transitioning entirely, sometimes dressed as a man and sometimes as a woman.  She said wardrobe, at that stage, dictated both name (she had one for her male self and one for her female self, which is now her full time legal name) and pronoun.  So if a person, even if I knew them IRL as one sex, played a character of the other, I would consider that wardrobe and use pronouns appropriate to the character.  If I think of on-line character Jeanine when playing, I am not thinking of IRL buddy Bob.  Always, what the person prefers is paramount, of course, in every context.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: baglady on December 03, 2013, 07:44:29 PM
Quote
I'm worried about how my online friends will react when/if they find out that the person they assumed was female both looks and sounds like a man in person.

If these are strictly online friends, how are they going to find out? Especially if the context in which they know your friend is a role-playing game, where, as PPs have mentioned, it's common for people to play characters of a gender not their own. And also as some PPs have said, the Internet in general and RPGs in particular are a safe place for someone in gender transition to try things out. If your friend gets close enough to fellow players that s/he wants to open up about his/her situation, that's on him/her -- not on you.

I have about a half-dozen transgender friends of different ages (early teens to mid-70s) and stages of transition. But I admit to being stumped recently. It was at a party hosted by a couple I'll call Mark and Laura. Laura introduced another guest as "John, Mark's sister."

John is, by all appearances, male. He was wearing men's clothes. He has a beard. He has a wife. His name is John. Every transgender person I've known, the first thing they do when they begin the transition is take an opposite-gender name. Given the circumstantial evidence -- the beard, the craggy features -- it's unlikely John used to be female. I didn't pry, I didn't have occasion to refer to John by any gender pronouns, and since John is from out of town, I expect little to no future interaction. But as I said ... stumped.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Yvaine on December 03, 2013, 07:54:49 PM
Quote
I'm worried about how my online friends will react when/if they find out that the person they assumed was female both looks and sounds like a man in person.

If these are strictly online friends, how are they going to find out? Especially if the context in which they know your friend is a role-playing game, where, as PPs have mentioned, it's common for people to play characters of a gender not their own. And also as some PPs have said, the Internet in general and RPGs in particular are a safe place for someone in gender transition to try things out. If your friend gets close enough to fellow players that s/he wants to open up about his/her situation, that's on him/her -- not on you.

I have about a half-dozen transgender friends of different ages (early teens to mid-70s) and stages of transition. But I admit to being stumped recently. It was at a party hosted by a couple I'll call Mark and Laura. Laura introduced another guest as "John, Mark's sister."

John is, by all appearances, male. He was wearing men's clothes. He has a beard. He has a wife. His name is John. Every transgender person I've known, the first thing they do when they begin the transition is take an opposite-gender name. Given the circumstantial evidence -- the beard, the craggy features -- it's unlikely John used to be female. I didn't pry, I didn't have occasion to refer to John by any gender pronouns, and since John is from out of town, I expect little to no future interaction. But as I said ... stumped.

It might have even been a brain fart on Laura's part. She'd probably been doing introductions all night and the wrong word just fell out that time.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: blarg314 on December 04, 2013, 08:06:20 PM


It might have even been a brain fart on Laura's part. She'd probably been doing introductions all night and the wrong word just fell out that time.

I've also found that non-native speakers can mix up "he" and "she" accidentally without noticing it. I could see myself reaching for the Chinese word for younger brother, and having the wrong word come out.
Title: Re: Transgender online
Post by: Pen^2 on December 04, 2013, 09:21:16 PM


It might have even been a brain fart on Laura's part. She'd probably been doing introductions all night and the wrong word just fell out that time.

I've also found that non-native speakers can mix up "he" and "she" accidentally without noticing it. I could see myself reaching for the Chinese word for younger brother, and having the wrong word come out.

My MIL does this all the time. In her native language, "he" and "she" are pronounced exactly the same way, which makes things a lot simpler. Gendered language just makes things more complicated than they need to be more often than it's actually useful IMO...

And I'm sure I've done it also, despite English being my first language. We all make mistakes, especially when tired. No big deal.