Discussions/TransGenderGaming

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Lemme kick this off by relating my experiences.

I've been playing White Wolf Games since W:tA 2nd ed. I started running games shortly after that. I was young and brash at the time, and I even managed to set up a gaming club at my high school. There was actually a good selection of people there, and I like to think that I introduced a large number of people to RPGaming that would never have had that exposure. I ran games of course, and played them as well. I always played males, since that was what I am.

I was 16 at the time, and now It's a decade later. I like to think that I've grown as a gamer and writer. However, it's only been within the last year that I've begun playing female characters. You can find their stories through my userpage.

I play with a guy who plays males and females about equally, and I'm incredibly impressed by his portrayal of a female (insert twenty-sided-based-rpg here) character. I decided I would play a female character once, just to see how I would do at it. I mean, I've already played female characters, but as NPCs instead of PCs. It only took a moment of thought to realize that the leap from PC to NPC was just a matter of who was running the game.

So my question to all of you, both male and female: How do you feel about players playing non-matching gender characters? ~ BrigandRansom , with no cute post-signature comment

Never bothered me. (There are two in my current game, and I have one in another game. ). Exalted seems to be a good game for this, with it's fairly equal gender distribution, etc. I've seen bad cases, but they always did a pretty bad job no matter what. -FlowsLikeBits, who's name is far to long for post signature comment
I think this is quite difficult. I've played RPGs for five years and I'm GMing for at least 1 and I think, that transgender-gaming is okay. I also understand, though, that some people do not like it. I play male and female characters about equally and I know many players who play their oppostite sex (included many female players, which portray men), but I think that it IS hard to play the opposite gender properly without falling for clichée. Female players are far more capable playing men, than the other way round, I realized recently. I'm of the opinion, that some concepts seem to fit better to a specific gender. I don't think, that transgender gaming is a problem and I respect people, who try to do it and put time and effort in portraying the other gender, trying to avoid clichées. Jiba... post-signature comments?
I've played with guys who played guys, guys who played girls, girls who played girls, and girls who played guys. I've even played with members of both genders who played "gender not applicable" characters. Doesn't bother me a bit. In Shakespeare's day, there were plenty of female roles, but women weren't allowed to play any roles on stage. So, men (specifically, boys who had not yet hit puberty) played the female roles. In modern theatre (live, not movies), men play women and women play men, and men play men and women play women. In animated features, children regardless of gender, or adults with high-pitched voices regardless of gender, are often voiced by women. Goku in Japanese, voiced by a woman. Naruto in both Japanese and English, voiced by a woman. Kenshin in both Japanese and English, voiced by a woman.
I did once play with a guy who had a preference in the matter. He told me he preferred playing women, "because girls have more fun." I'm not entirely sure what he meant by that, but there are certainly fun things to be done as a female character that don't work the same way as a male character. Especially when most of the other characters are male.
- IanPrice, jumping on the bandwagon.
Even outside the gender issue itself, my friend once told the story of a woman who was playing a gay man, and her straight male friend who also played a gay man so he could hit on her in game. I'm not sure that really counts on his part, since his goal probably wasn't playing the character's homosexuality, per se... I'm male, and my second ever character was a female, and I just played my first female in Exalted. I just tend to chose the gender that best fits the personality type I want to play. If I want to play someone who's angry at half the world, I'll play a man-hating feminist. If I want to play a dopey rabbit lunar with the hots for everyone, I'll play a guy. I make my gender choice on an almost stereotypical level.
Also on the topic of sexual preference in characters, I, one girl, and one guy I play with have both played same-gender, different-orientation characters, and it was a lot of fun. These aren't the same characters in the above story; I don't know them personally.
- AmbroseCollector

The gender of my character depends on what I call the IMAGO; the first image of my character doing something kick-ass I get before I've even thought of what they might be. Example: The imago for my raksha character was a tiny woman made of mud swinging a gigantic tetsubo. So I based a character off that, backstory and everything. So... yeah. I dig characters of both genders. -- OhJames with nothing to add, other than that post-sig comments should be in italics.

Since all of the literature I read by female authors (e.g. Ursula K. Le Guin's The Left Hand of Darkness or Margaret Atwood's Oryx & Crake) tries to hammer out the point that differences in gender are generally largely social constructions, it's become difficult for me to look at the problem not as one of innate differences but of mannerisms. Because of the expectations placed on a woman in North America, it is expected that she behave a certain way and have certain experiences. The same might be said of any individual growing up, in, say, Japan. That individual would be expected to have had markedly different experiences from an individual raised in Cape Breton, and thus would react in a markedly different fashion to any given problem.

In Exalted, I find the situation of playing a character of a sex different from my own to be of the same nature. Especially since Exalted so nicely goes out of its way to point out in numerous ways how women are advantaged in numerous societies, most noticeably the Realm. It is not, therefore, a problem of a man playing a woman, but of a 21st Century Canadian male playing a R.Y. X Dynast. ~ Andrew02, who is being such an intellectual poser

In the group I play in, we tend to have very little trans-gender playing. I'm not sure why anymore, but one of our old STs made it a sort-of house rue for his game that he would like it if the players didn't do that, since for him it's slightly confusing to keep track of gender. Since most players have avoided it. I myself feel I have problems playing the opposite gender. Probably because of my scewed opinion of them. When I play a male I tend to either make the character the ideal alpha male (something that doesn't fly well in thr group) or a flaming homosexual. I feel I can get behind the tought prossess of females better. But that's just me. ~StarHawk Snickering Girl, cousin to Laughing Boy

Ultimately, a player's portrayal of the opposite gender is limited by their perception of what constitutes that gender's mentality. You could claim the same for portraying characters of the same gender, too; some people have difficulty in determining how any other people work but, as a whole, people tend to be more aware of their own gender's mindset. Anyhow, those people who are inept at playing the opposite gender tend not to do so at all. And those that do... uh, I guess there has to be some purpose to all those lesbian nymphomaniac elven thieves...DeathBySurfeit, thinking italics need not be confined to post-sig comments

Ye gods, we have a player who used to be like that. Appearance 5 Black Fury lesbian nympho? Check. Halfling thief nympho lesbian? Check. Sidhe lady-obsessed sex maniac? Check. And every single one of his characters was named Kristy. Thank god he's moved on. -- OhJameswho thinks italics are lovely all over the place, but most especially in post-sig comments
Just say no? I mean.. Seriously. That is the whole point of requiring GM approval of your character, Right? ;) As far as the topic goes.. I don't play female characters, nor am I particularly comfortable GM'ing female NPc's - though I do do so - because I don't.. how to put this. I can't put mysefl in the right shoes? get my headspace around it? Im' working on the problem. Among the group I usually play with, it's more common for the female players to paly men than for the male players to play men, come to think of it.. - Molikai Who will write his whole comment in Italics. Just 'Cause.
Ah, we were young and foolish then so we just rolled with it. -- OhJames
My entire gaming group is composed of guys, so most of us, at some point have played a female character, 'cause thats the only way there is ever going to be any. I find it hard, but I like to practice playing a female character. Women are better anyways, they cant be stunned for getting hit in the crotch ;) -- LastHero
Ah, the 'tactical' consideration. Rarely a serious reason until it comes to the 'crunch' as it were.
-- Darloth provides humourous but slightly off-topic commentary
My female friends have often told me that it actually hurts quite a bit for them to get hit there, probably almost as much as for us. Plus, getting hit in the boobs is pretty bad too. - IanPrice, who is thankful for actual female gamers.

I used to play MUDs all the time when I was younger, and I recall being disturbed at first when I encountered people who played cross-gender characters, but getting over it very quickly. There was one incident when I was like 14 when I told a guy never to speak to me again because he played a female character; however, he had not been straightforward (not in-game, but out of game) about what his real-life sex was, and we'd had a number of conversations over AIM on a "real-life" footing in which I'd spoken to and treated him as a girl, and I felt really duped and lied to. If I had to do it over again, I probably wouldn't freak out as much (partially because there is no longer as big a gap in how I relate to guys vs. girls), but I'd still be pissed that he hadn't been straightforward in the first place.

These days, I rarely play male characters, but occasionally I'll come up with a character who "feels" male. I can't put it any better than that, and I can't explain it, either, although I'm sure my personal complexes about how men and women relate to each other have something to do with it.

I don't have problems with people playing opposite-sex characters, although I can think of circumstances in which I would. For example, if some sexist bastard made a female character and then purposely used the character to demonstrate how inferior chicks are, I'd be mad. But sexist bastards are pretty rare nowadays, at least in my peer group. I wouldn't even care if someone made a hot female character and used them to act out their pornographic fantasies (although I'd rather they didn't do the explicit bits in front of me), as long as they acknowledged that it's all unreal, you know?

Incidentally, someone above said that they thought chicks play better male characters than vice versa ... does anyone else agree, and would anyone care to explain why? I'm very intrigued.
~ Shataina

If the trans-gender player is really putting the effort in, there is certainly something to be said for the insight provided by an outside perspective on someone's behavior. After all, a lot of role-playing is making your character look believable, and to a certain degree that can be provided by a simple imitation of behavior patterns, especially if that imitation is insightful and thorough.
Playing trans-gender also helps some people to step outside of themselves, because it gives them a mental check. If you always have to stop and think, "would a boy/girl do this the same way as me?", it gives you an extra reminder, "this character is someone different from me who thinks and acts differently." It also provides an extra cue that the character isn't real.
So, I'd say that trans-gender playing doesn't automatically increase your skill at roleplaying, but it can be used as a tool to do so. - IanPrice

For the past 18 years or so, the second thing I do for any new character (after thinking of a very loose concept) is to flip a coin to determine their gender. This refines the concept more and gives me somewhere to go. I've done better at playing some of these more than others. With Tess, one of my old (now dead) Shadowrun characters, I somehow got everyone referring to me reflexively as "she", so mission accomplished on that one. Others I've had more trouble with. I never really nailed the mannerisms of Alabaster, for example, the way I wanted, but then she was sort of envisioned as a female version of Deiter from Sprockets. I also tried playing a genderless character once, but it got killed before I really got into it. - Wordman

In one of the Dark Ages games that I ran, one of my players played a hemaphrodite. At first I thought he did it as a joke, but he played it off very well. The reactions that followed when the other characters (and players) found out was amusing and interesting. Overall I think transgender gaming falls into the same category as basic roleplaying, and serves the same purpose...to step out of yourself and become another person.
--DarkWolff

When playing online games now, I prefer to be female, as I actually found a cool name, and in WoW I play a Night Elf and the males ears wobble when you run, its so unsightly I deleted the character and created a female one. And now it has continued on, my main character on GW is female, and when I made a mage on my friends EQ2 acount it was a female one. Last time I tried to draw a Solar character I was making, it was supposed to be a guy, but my hands just turned it into a girl, with a huge sword. Now I get jokes all the time.... - LastHero whos friends consider him to be feminine

Heh, I have two female WoW characters (of 5) for one reason, I like staring at the models. But then, for me, WoW is just a long trek of staring at lovely graphics and clicking a lot. As far as tabletop games go, I tried alternating male and female characters when I first started playing, but they just never seemed to feel like I could play them correctly. I haven't tried going transgender in years and prefer that people who play games I run don't do it either. -- Somori Who has played too much kick-in-the-door up till recently.
That was my second reason, staring at the lovely models, and the reason for my human female character, mu Undead female character was made because the animation for the rogue kick ability is really cool. Alliance FTW! - LastHero

I generally play female characters to even out the party gender balance, because most everyone I know favors male characters (even the female players.) I don't mind and no one else has bugged me about it. - braincraft

I have (unfortunately) done a lot more MUSHing in my years of gaming than I have done actual tabletop gaming. When I do have the chance to play a pen and paper game, I am almost always the GM so I don't think the question really applies there. I have to play a lot of male and female characters. When I MUSH I tend to go through phases - sometimes I prefer playing my real life gender (male) and sometimes I prefer playing female. Either way, I've never worried to much about making sure they behave "right". I just try to get strong character concept and do what I think they would do. And I've been told by rp partners who are aware of my RL gender from time to time that I portray females pretty well. -Krendal

Players ought to play the character they think of when they sit down to chargen, or one they plan out beforehand, not make a character based too heavily on gender. If a character is one that could easily be male or female, just pick one. In a setting like Exalted, there should be little differance to the character because of gender. Play the character as-is. It isn't necessary for so much focus to be placed on the gender, since the world this is set in does not include the same boundaries (societal and genetic) our existence does. Preferably, I would have people either play the gender they are best at, or the one that would add the most novelty to the game. A player who just wants to cross-play for the heck of it I would discourage, because he or she is likely to play that character in a particular manner instead of playing a personality that just so happens to be male or female. - BlackAndWhite

Many of my Exalted characters have been women (although my favorite at present is a deliberately Dumb Manly Guy); indeed, in many RPGs I've been in, I've played women. Online I play women almost exclusively; this is handy in a way, since I have the problem of my tough-girl characters being assumed to be male because I, as a player, am. (Strangely this wasn't a problem with my nice-girl character, so perhaps it's got more to do with gendered behavior.) Generally if a character just pops into my head, it's usually a fairly tomboyish woman. I set out with Jan to create something to break my "playing only women" pattern and it has worked out nicely. There's something to be said for breaking patterns, no matter what. - JanVutch

I'm fine with cross-gender gaming myself. More often than not, though, if I'm playing in a tabletop game, the character is usually female. However, if it's an online game, I have a pretty even split between male and female characters. I think this happens because the group I TT with are all guys (and play all guys, for the most part), so I play a female to counter all the testosterone in the party. My main online group, on the other hand, is big on cross-gender gaming; I believe that myself and one of the other amazing guys at The Freedom Stone have made no less than four Solar-Lunar pairings, with him making the female half for at least two of them. In fact, with the pairing we're playing now, I'm playing the male character, despite my physical girly bits. At any rate, I think that the gender of the character really doesn't matter much; it's really the concept that drives the character. - Caelene, who posts all of her comments in Italics anyway. So nyeh. =P

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