Celebrating International Transgender Day of Visibility!

Saturday, March 31, 2018

Here at Paizo, we value and are proud of the many and varied perspectives that our employees, contributors, and community provide. Since March 31 is International Transgender Day of Visibility, we'd like to take this opportunity to celebrate and showcase transgender members of our community. Here are their thoughts in their own words!

Rigby Bendele, Venture-Captain: Gaming and queer experiences have always been tightly tied for me. After all, I've chosen to focus on the intersections of queer theory and gaming in my scholarship for a reason. RPGs offer possibility. Play is a way to try on new identities and explore areas of myself that I don't explore otherwise. Play has served as testing ground for me to decide what was and wasn't safe to disclose. I've found benefit in the failures I've experienced in RPGs. I learned what gender expressions didn't feel right for me through exploration in RPGs. These failed attempts at creating fantasized versions of myself helped me learn more about who I was and who I wanted to be. RPGs, particularly Pathfinder, offered me the opportunity of endless, unquestioned exploration. Without this, I wouldn't have been able to find a space for me that exists outside of the hegemonic gender categories we're placed into.

Since coming out publicly as nonbinary two years ago, I've found my role in my local gaming community a way to both educate others and provide support to other trans people. While I'll never claim that gaming alone can save us, it's important to me to ensure gaming communities are just. As a Venture-Captain, I've used my own standing in the community to create a more welcoming environment. As a result, I've had several members of my local area's organized play community feel safe enough to come out as trans. They've said that watching me live openly as trans made them see transition as a possibility for their own life. While being one of the first visible trans members of this community has come with rough spots, knowing that my visibility makes it possible for other people to be themselves has made all the challenges worthwhile.

Crystal Frasier, Author: Tabletop gaming was an important support for me when I was young and lonely and hurt by the world. I hated myself a lot back then, and RPGs gave me a brief few hours to not be myself and be someone I liked instead. In retrospect, it was pretty hilarious that the only times I felt like I wasn't pretending to be someone else were when I was pretending to be an elf or a superhero or a grizzled, postapocalyptic powersuit pilot. Now that I like myself and don't feel a need to hide, I draw on those same experiences of isolation, alienation, desperation, drive, and triumph to help inform my writing. While the circumstances of transitioning are unique to transgender and some intersex people, those emotions and experiences behind it are universal and powerful.

Melissa Guillet, Systems Administrator: I first began playing tabletop games in earnest shortly after 2nd edition AD&D came out back in 1991. I worked in the local small-town bookstore, and I met the man who would be my GM when he ordered the new books through us. He told me that I could play once I reached sixteen, and so when I passed my driver's test, I joined his group. I played with that group for about 15 years. They were mostly Army/Air Force guys, and they were my best friends who saw me through high school and a lot of other transitions in my life. I had a hard time at about nineteen when I was trying to figure out how I was going to make this all work, being poor and stuck in a small town in the Southwest. I hermitted away, and my gaming friends were the ones that came around, got me out of the house, and told me that whatever was the deal, they'd be okay with me. I didn't tell them during that time, but their kindness did put me at ease. That's when I began exploring more feminine aspects of myself in game; I started playing more and more women characters. One day, some friends asked me why I was starting to play more female characters all of a sudden. I played coy at first but couldn't quite bring myself to tell them—not yet. My best friend in the group, who was basically a brother to me, deserved to know first. If I could tell him and he would be okay with it, then, well, everything else would be okay. This was way back in the late 90s, I think, so things were quite a bit different. I wrote a letter and drove to his house and gave it to him, and then I sat in his living room while he read through the pages. I poured my heart out, and he told me that, no matter what, he'd always be there for me. And then one by one, I told my gaming friends. Not everyone was immediately supportive, but they all cared and loved me, and that was about as powerful a story for gaming and togetherness as I can make. Gaming meant having the support of people who loved me and wanted the best for me. So this story goes out to Gerald, Ben, Wade, Lanell, Mark, Keith, and some guy named GM (he's really named JD). I miss you guys. Thanks for being a powerful force in my life.

Sasha Lindley Hall, Venture-Agent: I feel that one of the biggest intersections between my gender identity and my love of gaming is in how I approach the details. Both of them are constantly evolving and changing and moving forward; as our understanding of gender and ability to extend our ideas grows, in parallel are the supposed limits of gaming (mechanically and culturally, both in game and out) pushed and discarded. At their core, gaming and gender are about freedom to me—the freedom to explore beyond myself and within myself. With them as prominent driving forces in my life, I am growing better every day.

Violet Hargrave, Author: While there were obvious-in-retrospect signs all throughout my life, what really made it click that I was trans was playing Pathfinder. I used to alternate playing men and women "for variety" until it sank in that all the women were fully fleshed-out characters I was really at ease inhabiting, while the men were all slight, shy, and weirdly prone to amassing magical and nonmagical disguises "just in case." Once you articulate to yourself, "I'm always a lot more comfortable as a woman," it's a lot easier to realize that it applies to more than just RPGs.

Isabelle Lee, Author: For me, roleplaying games and my trans identity are very closely linked. Gaming has been an outlet for that part of me for as long as I can remember, allowing me to experience the idea of life as a woman before I even knew I needed it and introducing me to the possibility of leaving one's assigned gender behind, while my transition has inspired a few of my creations in my time as a contributor. Accepting my gender identity gave me the confidence to decide that I wanted to be part of this game and this industry, and the friends I've made in the process (both of transitioning and of writing for Pathfinder) have enriched my life more than I can describe. I know I've been an inspiration to people, as both a writer and a trans woman, and I hope to keep on being one for a long time to come. ^_^

Jen McTeague, Author: Pathfinder was a large part of how I explored being trans in the first place. Komana Higgenstrom was my first female Pathfinder character, and I really enjoyed playing her more than the vast majority of my other characters. I didn't quite understand why at the time. After all, it would still be a year or two before I realized that I was trans. But when I started to question my gender and look back in my past for signs, those game sessions where I played Komana were a major clue that I was headed on the right track.

Nowadays, my trans identity affects a lot about how I play PFS. Since coming out, I've met a bunch of trans PFS players, and we've been supporting each other. In addition, while I'm no longer a VO, I still try to make the communities I'm a part of more friendly to trans people. This includes both talking with other organizers and pushing back against unfortunate words that are said at the table. After all, I had the great opportunity to use PFS as a jumping point for my transition, and I want other people to have the same opportunity.

Please join us in celebrating these incredible voices!

—The Paizo Staff

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Paizo Employee Starfinder Design Lead

28 people marked this as a favorite.

Many thanks to all of you for sharing.

Sovereign Court

10 people marked this as a favorite.

WooT! Thanks for being awesome.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Deluxe Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

That was a great read. I'm happy to have all these awesome people in this community!


9 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'm glad y'all're here! You put so much time and energy into this community; your creative work enriches our games, and the examples you set and statements you make are inspirations to change how we think about and approach the world.

Personally, your forum posts, panel appearances, and social media presences have taught me so much about how to make gaming something everyone can enjoy, and I do my best to apply those lessons away from the table. And I don't use you in the general sense—I can basically point to specific contributions from everyone in this post.

I'm a better person for those contributions. Thank you.


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Posts like this are a major, major part of why I love Paizo so much. (Not to toot my own horn too much, but I'm another non-binary Venture-Critter. It feels amazing to know I'm not the only one.)


10 people marked this as a favorite.

Many thanks to you all, and Paizo's LGBTIQ messageboard community, for making the products and this place that much more awesome for all of us.

And YAY IZZY!


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Lookit all these awesome people!

Dark Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

Thanks for sharing, I am glad to count you all among my friends!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for sharing.


11 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Cards, Companion, Maps, Modules, Pawns, Roleplaying Game Subscriber; Pathfinder Battles Case Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

One of the best pieces on these boards I ever read was Crystal Frasier's back story for the iconic shaman, Shardra. I was able to glimpse—albeit briefly—looking at life from the perspective of a trans-woman. For a cis-gendered hetero male, that was utterly amazing. I highly recommend anyone interested in reading it.

This is why I love Paizo—so welcoming to everyone regardless of background or belief, so long as they love gaming. Brilliant words, everyone, and thank you so much for sharing!

Contributor

4 people marked this as a favorite.

You're all awesome, both for your work on it's own and as examples that folks who might be trans or are questioning their gender identity can look up to. You're all really cool folks. :)


3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Modules, Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you all for sharing your stories.


2 people marked this as a favorite.

Huzzah!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

This is a wonderful, loving, supportive post, and showcases one of the reasons that I love Paizo so much. I may be cis, and 5E may be my system of choice these days (busy mom, teaching kids, juggling moderating duties), but damn if I don't want to play in your sandbox again! <3 Especially soothing after spending another afternoon trying to support my genderqueer siblings-in-games on largest DnD5thEd FB group. So much hate left, or at least so much noise left by the remaining haters. I'm glad your celebrations and stories and supporters drown them out more and more!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you. I am proud to be a member of this community.

Liberty's Edge

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Paizo Charter Superscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber; Pathfinder Legends Subscriber; Pathfinder Tales Subscriber; Starfinder Charter Superscriber

Awesome blog post, I'm glad it was posted.

Silver Crusade

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Cool people who do great things. :)


6 people marked this as a favorite.

Excellent post, and thank you. RPGs helped me through a rough patch when I first realized I was trans. It makes me happy that the RPG community is so trans-friendly (for the most part).


5 people marked this as a favorite.

My sis is trans lesbian and I'm her BBBFF (aka Big Brother Best Friend Forever) so I'm definately pro-LGBT. All your stories are moving and inspiring and I'm super happy that Paizo Publishing has been one of the first tabletop gaming companies to feature LGBT couples in their gaming content. ^_^


2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild Subscriber

I'm sharing in the love and pride I feel for the wonderful humans of Paizo. Y'all are amazing.


Sharing experiences, either with a community or with other individuals, can alleviate loneliness and raise morale. That is good.


4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Pawns Subscriber

This post made me so happy to be a customer of Paizo. I see you, I hear you, and you are a light to others. Thank you for your courage and authenticity.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

This is part of the reason why I love being a part of the community. Pathfinder helped me really come to terms with the fact that I'm a trans woman when I first started playing when I was 16, and having such a sincere and genuine place of support and representation has been critical in the shaping of who I am today.


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you for this blog post. <3 So good to see my trans-siblings doing great things.

Sovereign Court

2 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Card Game Subscriber

While I may just be a cis-gay-boi, much love goes out to my transgender brothers and sisters. The struggle is real and has always been led by you showing the rest of us the way. Never dull your light!


5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Wow!

I learned some NEAT things today.

Thank you all for helping me learn!

Grand Lodge

12 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank you, Paizo, for posting such an important message and for your years of representing the LGBTQ+ community.

If you are an out and proud transgender person, then I applaud you. You are a brave and fantastic person for being true to yourself and who you really are.

If you are a closeted transgender person, then I applaud you. The fact that you know who you are is important. Maybe it's not safe to be public. Maybe you're not ready yet. That's ok. Today is likely a hard day for you because you want to scream at the top of your lungs and tell the world who you are. You want to live life honestly. You'll get there.

Try and let today be the day where you see all of these openly transgender people give you strength. Let them give you courage. Let them give you hope. Have hope.

Someday you will be able to show the world who you are. When that day comes, know that many people will embrace the true you and love you no matter what. We'll love you and support you. We'll lift you up. We'll accept you.

It will happen. And when it does, we'll be here for you.

Paizo Employee Managing Developer

5 people marked this as a favorite.

I love that y'all are part of our community and do so much to make it awesome. Thank you for being here. Thank you for being seen. And thank you for all that you do!

Liberty's Edge

7 people marked this as a favorite.

The is a player in my group, Rawlin who is transgender, and we are giving him support as he is transitioning. (He was very happy with the blog and said I could mention his name.) I think it means a great deal that Paizo is welcoming to the LGBTIQ community. I know that some places are not welcoming, but as a GM and VO, I try to make everyone feel at home at the gaming table.

As a member of a minority faith (Reform Judaism), I know what it is at times to feel like an outsider. So, I try to make the gaming table a welcoming community to all. I have gamed with LGBTIQ gamers, straight gamers, Christian gamers, Jewish gamers, Muslim gamers, Wiccan gamers, and people whose faith and orientation I knew nothing about at all. What matters at the gaming table, and in our various communities, is creating a sense of welcomeness and acceptance. I would like to thank Paizo for doing so for many people. Let us all try to understand and accept each other in the true spirit of community and with respect for the inherent dignity of each individual.


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Card Game, Class Deck, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you all for sharing and being such shining parts of this community!


3 people marked this as a favorite.

Thank all of you for sharing. I personally know 4 Trans women, 3 of which work for Tekko, Pittsburgh's anime convention. The 4th one used to, but she doesn't GM anymore. I learned long ago, that if you realize that we're all just people, the World becomes a happier place. Stay strong, everyone.


3 people marked this as a favorite.

I just wanted to say thank you for your contributions to the community. You've definitely helped me.

Dark Archive

6 people marked this as a favorite.

This is super cool. I’m trans myself and it is awesome to see the effort by this company to be inclusive.


7 people marked this as a favorite.

Reading this just reminds me again why I love these boards...the support I get is great and at times this is the only place I do feel safe to express myself fully.

And reading the above and how it relates to my experiences with being a transgendered woman and gaming just makes me not feel alone as I have gone through similar things.

Silver Crusade

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Campaign Setting, Companion, Modules, Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Roleplaying Guild, Tales Subscriber; Pathfinder Comics Subscriber

Thank you, to each and every one of you for sharing, all of this was wonderful and beautiful to read. These boards and the gaming community at large are much brighter for having you, I know my life is in a much better place for knowing you all ^w^

Y’all kickass!


7 people marked this as a favorite.

The official support and inclusion means so much to me! <3


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

Thank you for your bravery and making the world a better place!


1 person marked this as a favorite.

Thank you all!


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Now that's class, Paizo. Possibly class enough to count as multiclassing.

Seriously though, this is a very kind post on your part and I'm glad to see things like this!

Shadow Lodge

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Hear hear! My thumbs are up for all of you and your efforts. You're awesome!


1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

Those are some wonderful stories - thank you for sharing them with us! :)

Paizo Employee Creative Director

12 people marked this as a favorite.

Yay! Thanks for the stories all, and for making what might be the best blog post we've ever done!

Grand Lodge

5 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Starfinder Maps Subscriber

This is one of the loveliest things that I have ever read on the Paizo Blog — how honored I feel to know so many of you. Paizo thanks for highlighting and celebrating some of the shining stars in our community.

Big hugs to all of you. Thank you for sharing your stories with us.

Hmm


5 people marked this as a favorite.

Great read. Thank you for sharing. Love you all. I'm not trans.. and I used to be anti-trans.. I had to learn. Helps that several of my closest friends are trans.. including my roommate and best friend.


Nice read. We need more things like this in Spain


6 people marked this as a favorite.

/exits lurk mode
Just wanted to throw my own thanks in here as well. It was wonderful to see these stories.
I too have found gaming to be a wonderful outlet that allows me to express my true gender in a supportive environment. Thank you, Paizo, for helping to make that environment even more supportive and open!


I approve of everything here except the absence of Xomar, his red beard, and his wink at the fourth wall.

Liberty's Edge

11 people marked this as a favorite.

I just got back from a wonderful whirlwind of a weekend at Norwescon. I met several Paizo employees and contributors, including Crystal Frasier, Adam Vick, Bryan Syme, and Christen Sowards, who were presenting on topics relating to using their creative power, as a writer or artist, to make gaming (and the world) more inclusive.

As a trans gamer, I feel like I can walk into a PFS Society game, roleplay to my heart's content, and not have to worry that some character or event in the scenario will suddenly make it clear that I'm not welcome.

Thank you for that.

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