TG or not TG?

(With apologies to the entire universe for that title; I couldn’t resist.)

In the next sim over from Hughes Rise (where my mainland land is), in Mooter, is the FABGlitter Women’s Club, a nice “girl AVs only” dance club up above the clouds. I go there now and then (as a girl of course) when I want to hang out with some people I know only vaguely and dance around and listen to music and not be far from home. It’s not exclusively a lesbian or otherwise queer place, or particularly revolutionary (despite the name).

The other day the FABGlitter folks sent around a notecard listing a number of women-only clubs and venues in SL, and the policy of each one (if known) about transgendered (TG) folks. And I was sort of confused as I read it, since I couldn’t really tell if by “transgendered” they meant people who are biologically male but identify as female in RL and have female AVs in SL, or if they meant it more broadly to include people who identify as male in RL but have female AVs.

One club, which said that they would allow TG people only if they had fully transitioned and identified as women rather than as TG, seemed to be using the RL definition (or at least that was my impression on reading the club’s statement). Others, which said that as long as the AV is female and the person follows the club’s other rules they don’t care about RL gender, seemed to be including also people identifying as female only in SL. It was all pretty unclear to me, but since FABGlitter itself is one of the latter, and that was the only one I was interested in going to just then, I didn’t try to dig deeper.

Then, while reading around about some of the LCO drama linked to yesterday, I came across the comment thread to a Prokofy Neva weblog entry on the subject, and at the bottom of that comment thread there was some discussion about what “transgendered” means, and who can legitimately use the word to describe themselves, and so on, and that reminded me of the question.

First off, as far as I’m concerned anyone who wants to use the word about themselves is welcome to and I won’t tell them they’re wrong. The literal meaning is simple, and anyone who has anything gender-crossing about themselves can go right ahead and use it. On the other hand, although I do often have an SL AV that’s a different sex than my RL body, I don’t (at the moment?) apply the word to myself, and I’m going to use this space to think about why.

Being transgender in any significant way in RL is a burden, and doing anything about it is an act of bravery. Anyone biologically one sex living as the other, or changing from one sex to the other in lifestyle and identification, with hormones and surgery, or in any other visible way, opens themselves up to harassment, discrimination, violence, social stigmatization, possible career disaster, etc. Even if someone is not in a situation to do anything about it, anyone who strongly feels that their true sex is different from their biological one bears a potentially huge burden, that deserves our respect. For any of these people, “transgender” feels to me like a mark of respect or honor.

I, on the other hand, am absurdly lucky. I have no strong sense of gender identity in RL or in SL. I’ve always been perfectly happy with the sex I was born with, and I can also perfectly well imagine being the other sex. I identify more strongly with my political opinions, my spiritual outlook, my nationality, my home planet than I do with one sex or the other. When I came into SL and found how easy it was to flip the bit, I immediately tried it, and discovered that it was wonderful fun. So now I play sometimes as boy Dale, sometimes as girl Dale (and for that matter sometimes as Pandaren or shiny-sphere Dale), and the most I’ve ever suffered for it is some perfectly good-natured teasing from my friends. (And I’ve probably been teased more for going barefoot than I have for gender-flipping.)

So I think it’s that I feel that calling myself TG would be claiming a degree of bravery that the world has not actually required of me. I’ve never felt the burden of being the wrong gender, and I’ve never had to have the strength to do anything about such a burden. It’d be like I dunno wearing a medal that I technically might qualify for, but didn’t really deserve. A few people in SL have thanked me for being an extremely open gender-bender, but although I love and appreciate the thanks (keep it coming, heh heh) I don’t feel like I’ve done anything very special to deserve it.

On the other hand, as I’ve said above, anyone else who has anything at all gender-bending about them is welcome to use the term; no one is required to share my squeamishness about it. And if there’s any suggestion that being transgender is somehow a bad thing, then I would wear the label proudly if it would help make such a pernicious suggestion go away…

Hm, well. Was that self-absorbed enough? :) Your comments and thoughts on the subject are eagerly solicited.

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Among the Legends

A recent drama storm around the OpenSim-based Legend City Online (LCO) reminded me that I haven’t tried one of the public OpenSim virtual worlds for awhile, so when SL was being weird the other night I headed over (using the Second Life viewer, rather than their recommended Hippo, because I didn’t want to download a Whole Nother Thing).

Turns out I already had an account over there; here I am as Dale Mullins (in a pretty radically unattractive shot, now that I look at it), helping one of the Legends (roughly the equivalent of Lindens in SL, I gather) adjust a sit-ball on a park bench at the default landing space:

Lounging among the Legends

(That’s me on the right, the Legend on the left: a very nice woman, with an adorable shape and skin, and a million-watt facelight.)

There are some very nice builds in the parts of LCO that I wandered through, and there are enough bits of free clothing and shapes and stuff that I was able to make myself more or less my familiar self without much trouble (although those glasses are Not Realy Me; I will have to make some myself).

The underlying server software, though, is pretty clearly still pre-beta. Things I noticed:

  • Inter-sim teleports and sim boundary crossings were quite risky, relatively often resulting in disconnection, infinite uncontrollable flight into nowhere, and/or appearing at one’s destination but being unable to move,
  • Even just standing around is somewhat risky; I got logged out a few times when I was doing nothing notable at all,
  • Once one has crashed or been logged out, it typically takes two or three or more tries to get in again; lots of message about already being logged in, or having been disconnected from the region, or whatever,
  • Scripted attachments are odd: I made myself a little invisible attachment with a hovertext title and some decorative particles just for fun, and found that if I went to a different sim it would be sort of half-off (the title would be in black, and I couldn’t see any particles although sometimes others could) until I detached it and re-attached it.

It’s possible of course that some of these problems were due to using an Unsupported Viewer; I ought to try Hippo next time if I’m not too lazy.

There weren’t a whole lot of people in the world, but the dozen or so that I saw seemed to be your typical early-adopter type and therefore above average conversationally; so that was nice. LaLa Legend herself, who I gather runs the place, was also hanging around at the entrypoint; something you don’t see in SL. I don’t know how positively she would have responded to challenging questions about the current drama of course. :) And the Legend in the picture up there (I apologize for not recalling her name; for some reason the viewer wasn’t logging chat while I was in LCO; I probably forgot to check the box) gave me 250 of the local currency so I could (for instance) upload the texture for my famous Noob Tee Shirt, which I then handed out randomly.

It’s fun to play around in such a young world, and to see how things are being worked out in them compared to mama Second Life. On the other hand the infrastructure is still wonky enough that I doubt I’ll be there regularly. It’s worse than my first week in SL (and that was pretty bad!). But it’s coming along…

And from another dimension…

Just for a change of pace (and because for some reason I’ve been in a bit of a WoW mood lately), today we will have some pictures from World of Warcraft.

First, a brand-new character, my Death Knight, sitting upon her skeletal charger, wearing a cute fedora (click through to flickr for a few more words on the subject):

Death Knight

Then a couple of snaps of good ol’ Spennix on her Epic Mount, a Swift White Ram (again, click through for more verbiage):

Swift Ram 1

Swift Ram 2

And finally, we note that Spennix is now Level 70 (yay!) which while it isn’t the highest level in the game anymore (since Wrath of the Lich King came out, that’s now 80), still opens up various cool new possibilities, including flying mounts, and including in particular the ability for extremely skilled Engineers (like Spennix, she said modestly) to make the wonderful Flying Machine (click through for etc etc):

Flying Machine 1

Flying Machine 2

Isn’t that fun? :)

Happy Solstice to all!

So for my 2008 SL Solstice card, I put this image on two sides of a flattish prim, with the other four (tiny) sides at a red 1.0 glow.

Solstice Card 2008

And yeah those are all me, just like last year. :)

Inside, delivered when the owner touches it, is a copy of the clock, and a notecard saying:

Happy Winter Solstice 2008 to one and all!

(and Happy Summer Solstice to south-of-the-Equator friends, who can either save this up to read six months from now, or just apply the appropriate mental gymnastics.)

The Winter Solstice is the shortest day of the year, a time to think about endings and beginnings and cycles, about death and rebirth, about fresh starts, how it’s always darkest before the dawn, how when you’re at the bottom there ain’t nowhere to go but up, and wise stuff like that. It’s a time to appreciate warmth and fellowship, and friendship and love. I’m sending this card to all of my SL friends, to remind you how much I appreciate you, and to thank you for everything. It’s been an amazing year in lots of ways, and I can’t wait to see what happens next.

Now in SL, our days are always the same length; the Solstice doesn’t touch the sim’s Sun. But if you’ve ever watched the sky in SL for any length of time, you know that the SL days aren’t a simple reflection of RL days, either. On the mainland, and any private islands where the estate owner hasn’t fiddled with things, the SL sun rises six times per RL day (at midnight, four am, eight am, noon, four pm, and eight pm, SLT). Three hours after it rises, it sets again and the moon rises. The moon moves across the sky three times as fast as the sun did, and just one hour after sunset there’s another sunrise.

So SL time is odd. :) Not only is it much faster than RL time, as we’ve all noticed in various ways, but the night is even faster than the day. I thought it would be fun to make a clock that reflected that, and here’s my current effort in that direction. If I’ve done it right, it will show 12:00 when the SL sun is at its highest (noon) and when the moon is at its highest (midnight); it will say 6:00 at sunrise and sunset. And the hands will move three times as fast in the night as they do in the day.

Enjoy the little clock, and may it remind you that our lives, both first and second, are short, and should be used wisely, and merrily.

With love an’ gratitude,
Dale Innis

And if I overlooked you while going through my overgrown Friends list, let me know and I’ll send one off. Entirely accidental, I assure you. :)

Solstice in Extropia

Extropia threw a fantastic twelve hour long marathon Solstice party yesterday. I went over somewhat late, expecting to find maybe a couple of people still around, coming and going. In fact the joint was jumpin’, and full of fascinating people, and apparently had been since the very start. I took a whole mess of pictures (I was apparently in the mood), but have downloaded only a few of them for flickring. Here they are (click through to flickr for a few words about each):

Michele an' Phoebe an' me (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Argent (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Eleanor (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

GoSpeed (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Sophrosyne (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Soph again (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Truthseeker (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

Zha (Extropia 2008 Solstice Marathon)

And Happy Solstice to All! Ppl keep sending me cards and presents and stuff inworld; I really ought to make something and spam it out to my friends. Maybe a nice little card, and a special Solstice version of the sun-time clock, or something…

I am a SLBlogger!

SLBloggers logo

I have joined SLBloggers, the Ning site for Second Life webloggers started by the mesmerizing Zoe Connolly (or should I say Zoe Connolly?). You can go admire my SLBloggers profile.

Ning is this simultaneously brilliant and utterly chaotic thing that lets anyone and his cousin Fred start a new “social network” site, with profiles and friend links and blogs and comments and comments on profiles and comments on blogs and pictures and videos and comments on pictures and videos, and also groups and forums and just about anything you can think of. So SL bloggers (who presumably already have their own weblogs, being SL bloggers and all) can now join the SLBLoggers Ning network, and have yet more blogs in there, not to mention joining groups and posting to forums and etc etc etc.

It’s social networking taken to all sorts of extremes: imagine if for every interest you had someone started a Ning network on it (and in fact someone probably has, in fact a dozen someones probably have), and you joined them all and tried to keep your friends network up to date on each one, and follow the relevant blogs on each one, and uploaded relevant pictures to each one, and followed and posted to the forums on each one. You’d never have time to sleep! Or more shockingly (’cause who ever does have time to sleep after all) you’d never have time to go into SL and spend hours dancing and building exploding things!

But I joined the SL Bloggers one anyway, because (a) what the heck, and (b) they’re doing to have a party sometime soon, and (b) Zoe is cool. :)

Flying machines

Today’s picture is of me (if you can find me) up in the air above Shengri La somewhere, playing around with some of the more interesting flying machines I found in inventory:

Flyers

(Details best viewed at larger sizes.)

Despite how important and wealthy this pictures might make me appear :) most of these were either free or very modestly priced. The survey:

Across the top, left to right: red balloon is very nice Cubey Terra Wind Rider (lotsa features; I bought it the other day when I realized all my Cubey Terra things were submarines rather than flyers), next three things are the two versions of Carrah Rossini’s lovely Steampunk Dreamliner, with the Phoebe (also Carrah Rossini) sitting between them (see previous post for where those came from). The two-balloon craft at top right is Barney Bloomslang’s Airship Bloomslang from Steam & Magic; I seem to have a full-perm version, so presumably it was a marketing freebie.

Just to the right of the red balloon is a flying teacup, an ancient freebie by one illume Skallagrimson; the cute stubby thing to the right of that is the tooterplane, from Tooter Claxton (don’t remember where I got that). The grey cylinder just below the Airship Boomslang is a decorative “Danger, Hazardous Chemicals” tank available free-to-copy at Terra Aeronautics Bay City.

The hi-tech thing at lower left is the C-Tech F2050 anti grav ship, that I got free somewhere (I think) a zillion years ago. Just to the right of that is a cute stubby Hoverpod I bought somewhere in New Babbage I think. More or less in the center is the semitransparent (and VERY fast) Mitt’s Airplane, by Mittandra Su, that I found sitting free-to-copy in a field once.

Below that is Hoverfan 17 by v talented friend Lightwave Valkyrie (that I think is given out at Lightwave’s airstrip), and finally to the right of that is Cubey Terra’s very sweet two-seater Futura hovercar (which I bought at the same time as the Wind Rider).

(That’s it for the vehicles; there are also two sitting-balls that I was adding some physics to for the creator, and a framed copy of Sysperia Poppy‘s “The Bridge of Man” that you can’t really see.)

And where am I? Oh, there I am, in the basket of the red balloon. Hi, me! :)

(Note that these are all flying things made by others, because they were selected partly for prettiness and partly because I wanted to play with them. My own things (the nonphysical one- and two-seater Hoverdiscs, the physical one-person Zoom, etc.) aren’t particularly pretty, and I already know all about them.)