Prokofy Neva, as you know, is a well-known male avatar with a female operator.
There's a protracted dramafest going on inworld and across multiple forums about the JLU group and one of the subplots is about transgendered people.
That led Neva to make this comment in his blog...
"But Kendra didn't accept me. As I've found with a number of other m2f transgendered in SL, she thought I didn't have the right to call myself transgendered in SL. She thought only RL transgendered people were authentic, and if you had an avatar of the opposite gender, this was merely a kind of role-play or "fantasy" and "didn't count". It wasn't politically correct in her very rigid canon."That caught my eye and my interest and led me to inquire...
"Am I understanding you correctly? You do consider yourself transgender?"Neva's reply...
"Why are middle-aged males like yourself so prurient about this issue, LeeHere? Why do you think that is? Mitch Wagner was just the same way. I'm not required to discuss my private life with strangers on the Internet. And so I don't. I have a transgendered avatar that is the opposite of my RL gender as is well known. I think that is a perfectly legitimate thing to do, and I don't think I'm required to a) discuss any aspect of my private life or b) have to be an actual case of transgender in RL in order to be "entitled" to have such an avatar or be "authentic". I find it the worst sort of fascism when people claim otherwise. Gender police -- ugh! I don't have any plans for any RL operations of any type, I really don't like surgery."Mine...
"I'm actually a middle-aged (43) female, Prokofy. I did not think I was being "prurient" about the issue and indeed I was not. You made an interesting comment and I asked about it. You opened the door and I walked through it, politely, gently and reasonably and with genuine interest. I can see that you are so often attacked that you keep yourself in a defensive posture, but I sincerely meant to engage you in a topic I thought both of us found interesting. I have never seen anyone refer to the use of an avatar with a gender opposite to their operator gender as "transgender" unless the operator identified as transgender in real life. I knew you chose an avatar opposite to your operator gender and I have seen you write about why you have made that choice, but I have never before seen you refer to that choice as "transgender." I am not questioning the legitimacy or the privacy of your choices. I read your blog post and had a "Hunh. That's interesting. I've never seen it put that way before." response. That's all. I did not assume you had plans for real life surgery or that you identified as transgender in real life, I thought perhaps you had a kind of philosophical view on the nature of transgenderism in the virual world. Seemed like, as I said, an interesting point for discussion. My apologies for inadvertently causing offense, but thank you for answering the question anyway."I do think this is an interesting discussion for a number of reasons.
1. The idea that an operator of an avatar with a different gender is "transgender."
2. Neva's blog post.
3. Neva's reaction to my question.
I find it's difficult to have calm, rational conversations with Neva. No, I'm not jumping on the crazy-lady bandwagon. I know that Neva purposely indulges in a kind of TalkRadio/Internet culture virtual swinging dick hyperbole that would make Limbaugh and WoW players proud, but I suspect that Neva is so often attacked that he just keeps himself in a defensive posture. I'm not sure what the approach of a casual reader of "Second Thoughts" should be on a hot-button topic at this point. I think I was unexpectedly culling out a bit of that hyperbole and separating it from the herd of the total attack, so to speak, and it may not stand so well on its own legs in that particular field.
So if someone has an avatar with a different gender to the real life operator...is that "transgender"? Is it entirely up to the operator? Do people who are transgender in real life have cause for offense or criticism? Is there room in a virtual world for both choices and philosophies?
Neva replied and so did I.
"LeeHere, I thought you were another variation of that Lee who hangs around Ross infohub all the time who is a middle-aged male and has his RL picture on his avatar even. You *are* being prurient. No, I don't find it interesting to discuss my life with you. I wish to refer to my avatar as transgendered. It seems accurate and perfectly legitimate. I don't believe in the Gender Police and I don't obey the Transgender Central Committee. Again, I don't have to prove any status *whatsoever* in RL to have a transgender avatar in SL, end of story, that's all he wrote."
"I'm glad we cleared up the which "Lee" I am part. As for the prurient part, I think we will just have to agree to disagree. I thought it was an interesting question, a kind of philosophical inquiry. Again, thank you for answering the question, regardless. I'm content to leave it there. Have a good day. Happy blogging."