How do you handle homosexuality and transgenderism in your campaigns?


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:

A long post, I hope those that read get something from it. I thank you for reading as it took 9 minutes to write.

As the dm they can run a game vastly different to our own current existence, where our social politics and attitudes we might have do not hold sway. I think it is one of the great potentials of roleplaying that we are not just stuck playing ourselves right now in this time or limited in playing people of late modern attitudes. Instead we can control characters in very different contexts to what we are used to. Of course we don't have to fight off goblin invasions (although that might be similar to the life of a pest control officer) but it goes far deeper than that into very different times or completely non-Earth settings.

I support Jaelithe and his position that in running games located in a historical setting the beliefs will be of that time and place, and not of 2015 wherever and however we find ourselves now, and will not include certain groups that are active today.

Some will not like this, the attempt to be and play quite authentically (or even just partially authentically) in settings that are not familiar and everyday in attitudes and social politics. I am glad there are games that offer something different to our norm, and that is also what I try to bring in my many games. If there are problems with acceptance then words such as "this isn't the world we are used to" can help players to understand they aren't confined to the familiar but they also aren't located in the familiar (one of my players was struggling to play a medieval Japanese fisherman turned bandit robbing people along the silk road, but they learned how to make it work and developed a character straight out of the old story Water Margin).

One of the problems I find with transgender npcs being put into many games is if the setting is pre-modern and in that it is pre-anomie and pre the questioning of gender norms, roles and identity their inclusion, even as minorities, makes very little sense. If you are running a...

Transgender goes back long before modern times. Some cultures had specific roles for those not fitting as male or female. Even in western history there are cases that may fit. If, as modern science suggests, gender dysphoria is a medical condition with disconnect between physical sex and mental gender, that's not caused by "modern questioning of gender norms or roles", it's far more fundamental than that. That questioning may make it more acceptable to be open about it and to try to transition rather than hide & suffer. It may even make it more likely to realize why you're miserable.

OTOH, as I said, some cultures recognize other genders already and it would be easier - even without modern medical treatment.

Grand Lodge

thejeff wrote:
Transgender goes back long before modern times.

It's been said that the (first ?) female Pharaoh Hatshepsut not only wore the headdress of (male) kingship, but also wore a fake beard, though it is thought that she did this to help her to be accepted as Pharaoh, as that was a position traditionally held by men.

Though I've also heard it said that she typically went topless as well...


thejeff wrote:
DM Under The Bridge wrote:

A long post, I hope those that read get something from it. I thank you for reading as it took 9 minutes to write.

As the dm they can run a game vastly different to our own current existence, where our social politics and attitudes we might have do not hold sway. I think it is one of the great potentials of roleplaying that we are not just stuck playing ourselves right now in this time or limited in playing people of late modern attitudes. Instead we can control characters in very different contexts to what we are used to. Of course we don't have to fight off goblin invasions (although that might be similar to the life of a pest control officer) but it goes far deeper than that into very different times or completely non-Earth settings.

I support Jaelithe and his position that in running games located in a historical setting the beliefs will be of that time and place, and not of 2015 wherever and however we find ourselves now, and will not include certain groups that are active today.

Some will not like this, the attempt to be and play quite authentically (or even just partially authentically) in settings that are not familiar and everyday in attitudes and social politics. I am glad there are games that offer something different to our norm, and that is also what I try to bring in my many games. If there are problems with acceptance then words such as "this isn't the world we are used to" can help players to understand they aren't confined to the familiar but they also aren't located in the familiar (one of my players was struggling to play a medieval Japanese fisherman turned bandit robbing people along the silk road, but they learned how to make it work and developed a character straight out of the old story Water Margin).

One of the problems I find with transgender npcs being put into many games is if the setting is pre-modern and in that it is pre-anomie and pre the questioning of gender norms, roles and identity their inclusion, even as minorities, makes

...

I think you are going to find very few examples on the historical ground you are also going to struggle to make it fit, i.e. rare anthropological examples of non-western tribes recognising a third gender is not the same thing as transgender in the peoples of societies today wanting to move between a gender binary that they feel on the wrong side of while feeling stuck in the wrong body.

Jeff, I will definitely have a look at anything you provide though as I am very interested.

There is also plenty on modernity and how it has damaged us, raised stresses and broken down old beliefs that stood for a very long time, so I wouldn't discount our modern condition just yet. Which brings us to talking about modern change.

Take the claims that "An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender" (source: http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/transfactsheet.pdf). This has not happened before. This wasn't the case in your grandfather's time and it wasn't the case before that. Their rise in numbers is new and very much a late modernity phenomenon, unless you can prove at least 2% of a previous culture's pop was transgender previously and in the relevant contexts (third gender islanders doesn't matter if a game isn't set on those islands. Would you not agree?). Of course then that has to be relevant to a game setting for trans to then make sense as being in the historically based game and for trans npcs, options for pcs and so on and so forth.

We should not just accept or advance the idea that transgender people have been present all across history and cultures without serious evidence to back up such claims. Let us not let current political groups rewrite history. Of course without such evidence, putting them in historically based games does not fit. Hatshepsut wearing a beard to solidify her political power does not prove she was transgender when such a term does not seem to even have existed in that time. Nefertiti also took the authority of a male role, the Pharaoh, but had herself portrayed as a beautiful woman (as the perfect woman actually) and was a mother.

With major recent changes, all I would like is evidence for the claims of what apparently was.


It almost never comes up in my group, being made up exclusively of straight people. We had a (poorly) closeted gay man and a couple of bisexual players years ago in the past, but lost them all to relocations. Even the few times it does come up, it's more along the lines of a mention of the flirting, then fade to black if anything gets to the 'naughty' stage.

I tried to play a closeted lesbian in a 1920's Call of Cthulhu game, slowly reaching out to a different female character who was unaware (player was unaware as well) but it didn't last all that long, as she had a random insanity roll which landed on nymphomania. Probably shouldn't have played the user of magic with that concept. That was the most serious anyone in my group ever tried to play such a thing.


DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I think you are going to find very few examples on the historical ground you are also going to struggle to make it fit, i.e. rare anthropological examples of non-western tribes

(Native) American is about as "western" as it gets. ;)

Silver Crusade

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I myself like to include these topics both to have more of a living world (these things have existed since far before people would like to accept), as well as to help normalize them with the people that I play with. Also it's quite nice to weed out people who are overly childish about these topics. I like to play with people I can trust to be respectful of topics like these (as well as other more mature topics) to help make a better environment for everyone.

I'll accept that not everyone wants these themes in their game, but generally I'm running, so I get to choose the subject matter.


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Pathfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

I'd challenge your comment (just slightly!0, DM Under the Bridge, about orcs being "so hetero it hurts" with the fact that they can have huge reproduction rates and an intense focus on reproducing and still be GLBT. A monogamous culture might insist on a gay person living with their partner, but one that's less so might have a GLBT person ecstatic about participating in reproductive mating while still personally preferring their same-sex partners. Personally for me, that stuff makes me far more interested in the character than the more typical presentation (though I do agree definitely that at times inclusion smacks of tokenism and don't disparage your overall commentary at all. I also SINCERELY don't mean to be condescending, I just love to talk about glbt stuff intersecting with cultural issues in fantasy settings!).

More related to the thread topic as a whole, one of my first Pathfinder experiences was in a game run by my friend's brother. At one point he had a flamboyant (but straight) and slightly crazy half-elf silk merchant grab my halfling oracle and kiss him in what was obviously supposed to be a "haha ewww!" moment for the table. Seeing how uncomfortable the DM got when I just shrugged and said "okay the halfling slips him some tongue" was the weirdest part: he just looked away and changed the subject completely. I realized that he'd never even considered that I might be okay with not-hetero activity, and it got increasingly weird to play with him from that point on because of how carefully he and the people he brought to the table completely avoided any and all "serious" (i.e. RP stuff) mention of any sort of romantic inclinations at all (and I mean unquestionably innocent stuff like "the barmaid winks at you in typical barmaid fashion, does your character appreciate the attention"). This extended to their out-of-game dynamics and it was pretty clear that they had a lot of interpersonal issues going on too, but more to the point; for me it was more strange to just not talk about it at all, more uncomfortable, because it was clearly this big crazy elephant in the room no one would acknowledge or talk about (unless it was in the context of either a gay joke, hot lesbians, or an ugly chick macking on a dude that was "out of her league").

So now I just make a point of addressing and normalizing whatever a player wants to do. If they're playing a randy paladin, power to them, if they want to have anything remotely romance-oriented removed from their character completely, I respect that and make it clear to the rest of the table that grief about that sort of stuff isn't allowed.

I even let them interpret events how they want to. It ends up in some hilarious splits in the table; in one of the Jade Regent APs, a viking jarl and his wife are being "entertained" by two thralls in their bedroom when the PCs storm the place. Half the table decided that they were doing adult-oriented things while the other half decided they were just putting on a puppet show. In the end they split the difference and agreed that nothing "untoward" was happening, but they were "really really sexy puppets".


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xeose4 wrote:

I'd challenge your comment (just slightly!0, DM Under the Bridge, about orcs being "so hetero it hurts" with the fact that they can have huge reproduction rates and an intense focus on reproducing and still be GLBT. A monogamous culture might insist on a gay person living with their partner, but one that's less so might have a GLBT person ecstatic about participating in reproductive mating while still personally preferring their same-sex partners. Personally for me, that stuff makes me far more interested in the character than the more typical presentation (though I do agree definitely that at times inclusion smacks of tokenism and don't disparage your overall commentary at all. I also SINCERELY don't mean to be condescending, I just love to talk about glbt stuff intersecting with cultural issues in fantasy settings!).

More related to the thread topic as a whole, one of my first Pathfinder experiences was in a game run by my friend's brother. At one point he had a flamboyant (but straight) and slightly crazy half-elf silk merchant grab my halfling oracle and kiss him in what was obviously supposed to be a "haha ewww!" moment for the table. Seeing how uncomfortable the DM got when I just shrugged and said "okay the halfling slips him some tongue" was the weirdest part: he just looked away and changed the subject completely. I realized that he'd never even considered that I might be okay with not-hetero activity, and it got increasingly weird to play with him from that point on because of how carefully he and the people he brought to the table completely avoided any and all "serious" (i.e. RP stuff) mention of any sort of romantic inclinations at all (and I mean unquestionably innocent stuff like "the barmaid winks at you in typical barmaid fashion, does your character appreciate the attention"). This extended to their out-of-game dynamics and it was pretty clear that they had a lot of interpersonal issues going on too, but more to the point; for me it was more strange to just not talk about it at...

"I just love to talk about glbt stuff intersecting with cultural issues in fantasy settings". Me too, and I have a few factions in development (world builder) that may have g,l,b. No offense taken, not by a long shot. Added you to my address book.

Lesbian "themes" and flirting have been in my latest game. Makes it pretty funny and definitely chill. Very amusing that you went for the slip some tongue option and into make the dm blush territory. I try to keep a straight face and roleplaying wherever it goes but my players also sometimes challenge me in similar ways.

Sexy puppets and roleplaying for good times and many chuckles for all.

Liberty's Edge

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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
As the dm they can run a game vastly different to our own current existence, where our social politics and attitudes we might have do not hold sway. I think it is one of the great potentials of roleplaying that we are not just stuck playing ourselves right now in this time or limited in playing people of late modern attitudes. Instead we can control characters in very different contexts to what we are used to. Of course we don't have to fight off goblin invasions (although that might be similar to the life of a pest control officer) but it goes far deeper than that into very different times or completely non-Earth settings.

Absolutely! But a lot of people very reasonably don't enjoy playing in settings where they must deal with the same tiresome issues they have to deal with (ie: prejudices that they see regularly in real life). That's not an absolute rule, but for purely fantastical settings, it's actually a bit odd, and rather boring, to have their prejudices based on our own. Unique and odd prejudices from our perspective (such as men being seen as overly emotional while women are expected to be stoic) are much more interesting, and keep people from feeling oppressed or excluded by the game world.

That doesn't need to be universal, especially in games based on a particular historical setting that aim to hew closely to it, but for more fantastical games, I don't see any reason a lack of the prejudices common in our society and history shouldn't be the norm (and often replaced with a different, more interesting, set).

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I support Jaelithe and his position that in running games located in a historical setting the beliefs will be of that time and place, and not of 2015 wherever and however we find ourselves now, and will not include certain groups that are active today.

Actually...so do I. When doing an explicitly historical game that cares a lot about historical accuracy, anyway.

However, if you're using Pathfinder I tend to think you've categorically left any semblance of historical accuracy behind given how Wizards, Clerics, and levels work...

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Some will not like this, the attempt to be and play quite authentically (or even just partially authentically) in settings that are not familiar and everyday in attitudes and social politics. I am glad there are games that offer something different to our norm, and that is also what I try to bring in my many games. If there are problems with acceptance then words such as "this isn't the world we are used to" can help players to understand they aren't confined to the familiar but they also aren't located in the familiar (one of my players was struggling to play a medieval Japanese fisherman turned bandit robbing people along the silk road, but they learned how to make it work and developed a character straight out of the old story Water Margin).

Putting oneself into unfamiliar cultures can indeed be very entertaining. Doing so with fantasy cultures perhaps even more so.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
One of the problems I find with transgender npcs being put into many games is if the setting is pre-modern and in that it is pre-anomie and pre the questioning of gender norms, roles and identity their inclusion, even as minorities, makes very little sense. If you are running a pre-modern setting anything close to being historical then including transgenders in significant numbers sounds like historical revisionism (my group of today was there!). Of course to get around this you can make your own setting where we see transgenders far earlier in modernity, or even in pre-modernity. Then Jaelithe is absolutely right and what we see is an example of a push of "their real world socio-political agenda" to get their people in places and times when they did not exist.

This really depends on the place, era, and what you mean by transgender. People choosing to live as the other gender has actually been a rather common thing in several tribal cultures (including many Native American ones), and the idea of a third gender is also fairly common in some (India leaps to mind). So...depends on when and where you're discussing.

Additionally, the evidence is pretty definitive that being transgender is a physiological issue based on the baby receiving incorrect levels of various hormones during pregnancy. So saying that people wouldn't have been transgender in another era is, in some ways, like saying people wouldn't get cancer...a bit of an unlikely theory in regards to a purely physiological issue.

Now, as to whether they'd actually do anything in the way of transitioning or living as the other gender...that's a bit of a different question, and will be based on culture and era as mentioned above, but people feeling like they were a different gender than their biological sex have almost certainly existed throughout history. Portraying them is thus perfectly reasonable historically, if not necessarily likely to be particularly obvious.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I found paizo creating and placing a trans orc into one of their adventure paths to be very odd. Orcs are short-lived, focused upon reproduction and there has been no indication of gender dysphoria in orcs previously. Orcs are so hetero they hurt countries with their numbers. The trans orc came across as tokenism, but one in which didn't fit with the setting that has been presented, but I suspect it will fit with the changing setting into which Golarion is becoming.

Wait, what? Where was there a transgender orc? If you're talking about Wrath of the Righteous, that has a transgender woman married to a half-orc woman...but that's really not the same thing as what you speak of for a host of reasons.

Additionally...high birth rates and a lack of homosexuality are not necessarily linked. At all. Saying they are doesn't even make a lot of sense.

In fact, the most popular evolutionary theory on the persistence of homosexuality in the gene pool that I've heard is that, in tribal societies where everyone is related, it's extremely beneficial to the tribe (and thus gene pool) as a whole to have some people who pretty much don't have children so that if any children become orphans there's someone to take care of them who doesn't have to split resources or attention with their own children. Given the violence seemingly inherent in orcish behavior and their high birth rates per mother, having such people would be even more likely to be useful, and the number of homosexual members of that society might even be higher.

Which is all a bit beside the point, since all the current evidence supports being transgender as pretty much unrelated to being gay, and (to reiterate) to it being basically a physiological issue based on the baby receiving incorrect levels of various hormones during pregnancy. Something that could easily be as common among orcs as anyone.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
One can deny there is an agenda, but paizo have been very clear in what they want to represent and add in the future (and they certainly defended placing the trans orc even though it did not fit with orcs as they had been presented).

Oh, Paizo has a clear and explicitly stated 'agenda':

Inclusion.

Paizo has, from day one with a black female Paladin as an Iconic and a gay Paladin in the Sandpoint gazetteer tried to strongly indicate that anyone and everyone can be heroes in Golarion. That whoever you are, people like you are awesome, and are out there doing amazing things in the world they make.

That's it, as far as agendas go, and frankly a pretty good one to have. I certainly support it.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
People will change and run the settings in the way that they want to run them, but not every group of people or identity is going to be in every setting or game. Trans especially do not fit into certain historical settings and thus they don't fit into many historically located games. Some have said that it doesn't come up. If it isn't there then it is unlikely to come up. Thank you.

As noted, this is not precisely correct historically. And thus something of an agenda in its own right if applied to remove people from history who were actually there. And not a very good agenda is that's the intent.

Now, I doubt that's your agenda or intent, but it's nonetheless a real risk of banning things on the basis of 'historical accuracy' without doing some in-depth research on what you're removing.

Sovereign Court

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber

Well said. ^_^


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:

I support Jaelithe and his position that in running games located in a historical setting the beliefs will be of that time and place, and not of 2015 wherever and however we find ourselves now, and will not include certain groups that are active today.

Some will not like this, the attempt to be and play quite authentically (or even just partially authentically) in settings that are not familiar and everyday in attitudes and social politics. I am glad there are games that offer something different to our norm, and that is also what I try to bring in my many games. If there are problems with acceptance then words such as "this isn't the world we are used to" can help players to understand they aren't confined to the familiar but they also aren't located in the familiar (one of my players was struggling to play a medieval Japanese fisherman turned bandit robbing people along the silk road, but they learned how to make it work and developed a character straight out of the old story Water Margin).

One of the problems I find with transgender npcs being put into many games is if the setting is pre-modern and in that it is pre-anomie and pre the questioning of gender norms, roles and identity their inclusion, even as minorities, makes very little sense. If you are running a pre-modern setting anything close to being historical then including transgenders in significant numbers sounds like historical revisionism (my group of today was there!). Of course to get around this you can make your own setting where we see transgenders far earlier in modernity, or even in pre-modernity. Then Jaelithe is absolutely right and what we see is an example of a push of "their real world socio-political agenda" to get their people in places and times when they did not exist.

This brings up a very important point, however, in that it seems to me a lot of D&D settings, Golarion prominent among them, are not pre-questioning of gender norms at all. That is why women can have such prominence as warriors in large swathes of the world. Patriarchial norms still exist somewhat, but it is quite obvious that the setting is very modern on the issue of gender politics. This applies not just to Golarion, but to Forgotten Realms and Eberron. The three of those together shape a lot of the community.

Furthermore, since it does seem that we are talking about Golarion specifically here, I would also like to challenge the idea that the setting was ever really meant to be historical in an accurate manner, or authentic. Golarion certainly doesn't look like any historical period I know of, what with that eclectic mix of weaponry from centuries apart being used side by side, technology and society that is as Renaissance as it is Medieval, and an strange mix of Medieval and Modern social mores that seems quite common to the fantasy genre. Golarion certainly isn't historical at all. What with all the magic about and interventionist dieties, I would also not expect it to look like any particular period in Earth's history. Therefore, including transgender people in Golarion is not inserting them into a historical period in which they did not exist, because Golarion is so socially and technologically different than any period in pre-modern Earth.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I found paizo creating and placing a trans orc into one of their adventure paths to be very odd. Orcs are short-lived, focused upon reproduction and there has been no indication of gender dysphoria in orcs previously. That was once the case in Western society, as well. Orcs are so hetero they hurt countries with their numbers. The trans orc came across as tokenism, but one in which didn't fit with the setting that has been presented, but I suspect it will fit with the changing setting into which Golarion is becoming. One can deny there is an agenda, but paizo have been very clear in what they want to represent and add in the future (and they certainly defended placing the trans orc even though it did not fit with orcs as they had been presented).

I am not an Adventure Path reader, nor am I particularly fond of the way Golarion portrays Orcs in general, so I cannot comment here.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
I think you are going to find very few examples on the historical ground you are also going to struggle to make it fit, i.e. rare anthropological examples of non-western tribes recognising a third gender is not the same thing as transgender in the peoples of societies today wanting to move between a gender binary that they feel on the wrong side of while feeling stuck in the wrong body.

I wouldn't call the occurence of third genders in non-Western society rare. On that token, we don't know a lot of the ancient European or even Medieval European views on the issue, and likely never will. With so many cultures and time periods, we just don't have a lot of surviving writings about civilian life, and the Medieval period is a thousand years of culture across an entire continent. More Medieval cultures existed than we can count, and we only know the gender mores well for a minority of those cultures.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Take the claims that "An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender". This has not happened before. This wasn't the case in your grandfather's time and it wasn't the case before that. Their rise in numbers is new and very much a late modernity phenomenon, unless you can prove at least 2% of a previous culture's pop was transgender previously and in the relevant contexts
Actually, we don't know close to anything about how many people were closeted transgender people prior to the existence of the label. We can't really say the 2% figure can or cannot hold for any pre-modern time. It comes down to whatever it is that causes transgenderism, and we don't have a full answer to that question.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
(third gender islanders doesn't matter if a game isn't set on those islands. Would you not agree?).

By the same token, Golarion is certainly not set in Medieval Europe, so the demographics of transgenderism in Medieval Europe would likewise be irrelevant here.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
We should not just accept or advance the idea that transgender people have been present all across history and cultures without serious evidence to back up such claims.
Neither should we say they haven't. It is okay to not know things, and this is something we don't know. From a biological perspective, we cannot imagine that they did not exist, given that we know just enough about the causes of transgenderism to know there is a biological component, but we certainly cannot know how common they are, and we know almost nothing of how they lived.
DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Let us not let current political groups rewrite history. Of course without such evidence, putting them in historically based games does not fit. Hatshepsut wearing a beard to solidify her political power does not prove she was transgender when such a term does not seem to even have existed in that time. Nefertiti also took the authority of a male role, the Pharaoh, but had herself portrayed as a beautiful woman (as the perfect woman actually) and was a mother.

When portraying a game in a time period so far back, the only thing that can be done is to make educated guesses or artistic assumptions, because we have no idea whether or not Hatshepsut felt more a man than a woman, and we never will. There are endless gaps like that, and a lot of them go deeper. We don't know enough about Ancient Egyptian urban life to provide an accurate portrayal of any one time period in an Ancient Egyptian city. If you want to play there, you are going to have to take artistic license somewhere, and it goes far beyond Hatshepsut's feelings on gender.

DM Under The Bridge wrote:
With major recent changes, all I would like is evidence for the claims of what apparently was.

We cannot claim anything concrete on most historical LGBT+ issues. Nature of the field.


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Regarding the idea of Transgender identity not being a historic concept, it is not only a historic tradition in India, it was also a tradition in the early days of Islam.

I think what would be more accurate would be saying "it wasn't prevalent in post-Rome Christian Europe". Except of course for broad societal acceptance of men playing female roles in theatrical productions...


Sappho of lesbos? Greek men? That one Greek historian (name I don't remember) who was turned into a woman as punishment by the gods (and later turned back into a man). Well that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender before we even hit the birth of christ.

Sovereign Court

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Pathfinder Adventure Path, Companion Subscriber
Trekkie90909 wrote:
Sappho of lesbos? Greek men? That one Greek historian (name I don't remember) who was turned into a woman as punishment by the gods (and later turned back into a man). Well that covers lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender before we even hit the birth of christ.

Tiresias. ^_^


Elagabalus - 24th Emperor of Rome.


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Regarding prevalency in post-Rome Christian Europe.

A) This needs to be prefaced as Pre-Renaissance. We have plenty of written and artistic evidence that there were gay men (and to a lesser extent women - mostly because there's generally less material about women) in post Renaissance Europe while the Catholic Church was still going strong (including during the time of various great schisms in the Reformation). As printed material became more and more common (thanks in large part to the Gutenberg printing machine) we get more and more records of L/G/B people (and people in general).

B) The sum total of our written and artistic knowledge of the dark ages comes from the odd census, and various illuminated manuscripts. Hardly a basis to argue for the disappearance/non-existance of the GLBT community.

Trans is probably the least portrayed historically, but given how terrible surgery was before penicillin that's understandable.

In a related note I find it worth mentioning that the first written work still in existence, the epic poem Gilgamesh - printed in cuneiform stone tablets, is a Bromance of the first degree and we're missing most of it.

EDIT: I am not aware of any published records regarding castrations; I know they were prevalent historically, both in the Orient and throughout Europe (including Christian/Catholic Europe up until about the 1800s). I realize many of these were ceremonial/parents selling their children into slavery, but perhaps someone has more intimate knowledge of the practices? I assume that being castrati/a eunuch would be something that ancient trans people would be drawn towards given some of the posts in the LGBT thread (again, others on the board would know better than me).


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DM Under The Bridge wrote:
Take the claims that "An estimated 2 to 5% of the population is transgender" (source: http://www.transgenderlaw.org/resources/transfactsheet.pdf). This has not happened before. This wasn't the case in your grandfather's time and it wasn't the case before that. Their rise in numbers is new and very much a late modernity phenomenon, unless you can prove at least 2% of a previous culture's pop was transgender previously and in the relevant contexts (third gender islanders doesn't matter if a game isn't set on those islands. Would you not agree?).

That claim is far higher than anything I've seen elsewhere and doesn't seem to be sourced to anything. Numbers I've seen are much lower, topping out at 0.5% or so. The larger number might be referring to anyone with any degree of gender dysphoria - gender fluid or genderqueer rather than transgender perhaps. Of course, those would be harder to see in the historical record.


How I handle it depends on the group I play with. Simple as that.


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For those talking in terms of pre-modern or historical settings, I hope it's not just LGBTQ issues you avoid on those grounds. Women's lib is modern too. As are modern attitudes towards formal class structures. Widespread acceptance of slavery and/or serfdom. Noble classes with more legal rights than the masses. All or most of it understood to be ordained by God.

It's not just one, still controversial, subset of the differences between the modern world and a historical setting that beyond the pale, right?


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thejeff wrote:

For those talking in terms of pre-modern or historical settings, I hope it's not just LGBTQ issues you avoid on those grounds. Women's lib is modern too. As are modern attitudes towards formal class structures. Widespread acceptance of slavery and/or serfdom. Noble classes with more legal rights than the masses. All or most of it understood to be ordained by God.

It's not just one, still controversial, subset of the differences between the modern world and a historical setting that beyond the pale, right?

I don't avoid the issue, per se, other than avoiding anything that becomes too overtly graphic, whether hetero-, homo-, bi- or omni-sexual, because it makes me uncomfortable in a public context. I don't think there's anything wrong with that.

I'd never deny someone the right to play a homosexual or transgendered character. They obviously existed during those periods. But if they began, with progressively more public actions, pushing for open acceptance of their character's inclinations in, say Fatamid Egypt or the Kingdom of Jerusalem, I'd have to seriously consider just how I'd handle it.

It's very possible that it wouldn't end well.


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I feel almost ashamed to admit that I've temporarily stopped including "trans" NPCs ever since it became the flavor-of-the-week on the boards. Some kind of Driz'zt clone syndrome at work there, maybe. I'll include them normally, but stubbornly refuse to do it in order to be one of the "cool kids."


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Wait... People actually play as someone who wants to switch genders?! Why? Why not start out with the gender you want to play as?


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Aranna wrote:
Wait... People actually play as someone who wants to switch genders?! Why? Why not start out with the gender you want to play as?

Because you want to play as someone who wants to switch genders? Because you want to play through the experience of both deciding you want to change and of how that changes you?


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Pathfinder Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:
Aranna wrote:
Wait... People actually play as someone who wants to switch genders?! Why? Why not start out with the gender you want to play as?

Because you want to play as someone who wants to switch genders? Because you want to play through the experience of both deciding you want to change and of how that changes you?

Or alternatively, have characters that are attempting to cope with being presented with situations beyond their control and how they progress down that conflicted path while still remaining on the hero's journey?

Grand Lodge

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber
thejeff wrote:


One of the drawbacks to running a quasi-historical game, at least using something like the PF system, is that you have to decide what God thinks of such things in your world.

Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.


LazarX wrote:
Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.

Quasi-historical, meaning using real world religions, not Pathfinder gods.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:


One of the drawbacks to running a quasi-historical game, at least using something like the PF system, is that you have to decide what God thinks of such things in your world.
Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.

Yeah and that's always bothered me.

Of course, in Golarion, we're way outside of "quasi-historical" game.


LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:


One of the drawbacks to running a quasi-historical game, at least using something like the PF system, is that you have to decide what God thinks of such things in your world.
Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.

Cayden Cailean's "tastes great" " less filling" schism has also spilled much precious liquid into the sands.


Wh-what did you do?! i could've drank that! I'll kill you! you bastard!


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LazarX wrote:
thejeff wrote:


One of the drawbacks to running a quasi-historical game, at least using something like the PF system, is that you have to decide what God thinks of such things in your world.
Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.

Sarenrae has a bet going with some of her handmaidens as to which sect will come out on top.


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LazarX wrote:
Tormsskull wrote:
LazarX wrote:
Not really. The gods in Golarion, outside of Razmir, are notorious for NOT making public statements on their positions. There are at least two factions of Sarenrites that are in violent disagreement, yet the goddess continues to supply the priests of both with spells.
Quasi-historical, meaning using real world religions, not Pathfinder gods.
I don't see where that makes any difference. Or have their been any public statements by Jehovah, Buddha, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster, that I've missed?

It's the merging of real world monotheistic religions and their claims to an omniscient, omnipotent, omnibenevolent God with the kind of access to the divine that PF magic (and especially divine) magic gives you that causes the problem for me.

In a polytheist world like Golarion, the Gods themselves are fallible. They can disagree amongst themselves and are not the final word on anything. And even there violent clashes between sects of the same religion bother me - unless it's that religion's thing. Certain gods might even encourage it.

It's harder to accept when it's an actual Supreme Being giving His blessing to what most of us now consider to be evil. Leaving aside the sexuality side, do Clerics participating in slavery remain in good standing? Is the Inquisition really the will of God? Or does God not actually withdraw his favor for sinning?
How do different religions work out? Are the Christians, Muslims and Jews all right about what God wants? When you can actually ask, how does that work?
Does God not actually take a stance on moral issues? Despite every Church ever claiming the opposite?

Again, I'm quite happy playing with moral ambiguity and with different cultural mores. I'd just rather not do it with a system in which some can literally ask the supreme moral authority for the answer. The typical fantasy world isn't one of those, since the various Gods aren't actually supreme.

Sovereign Court

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I treat all my NPCs orientation as completely and utterly unimportant unless a PC wants to know. And then I roll percentile.

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