“SL becomes so enmeshed in your life that you can’t remember it NOT being there”
I just said this to my best friend in SL and it’s so true. In 6 years I’ve done so much, made more memories than I’m sure you’re prepared to sit and read about and I’ve met so many wonderful, and a few not so wonderful people. Truth is it feels like so much longer than 6 years and that’s what brought me to say that quote above, I can’t really recall life before SL. Even if I condensed my experiences this blog entry would be novel length, so I’m going to talk about one of the most significant, life changing events. I hope you’ll enjoy it and I hope by the end of this you’ll see that SL is so much more than a Virtual World, it’s a tool that can completely change lives.
My Avatar Angel was my first, originally human female with white hair, moving on to neko, then back to human female this time with dark hair always she had piercing blue eyes. During these years I did create some alts, for roleplaying characters but one alt was to change Angel and the human behind the avatar.
It began with a friendship, developed between one of my alts and another avatar I met in a role-playing sim. Our characters became romantically involved and out of character we became friends. My alt was female and this avatar was a male, and I always assumed the person behind the avatar was too. It was a year later, when the relationship between had just begun to develop into something deeper that he confessed that it wasn’t so simple. I learned the “Man” I had begun to fall for, was in fact technically a female in real life, but it wasn’t even as simple as that, because they were transgendered; born female but identifying as male and in the process of transitioning to a male body.
Now, the thing was, I consider myself to be a liberal, open -minded individual who was pretty well versed on the subject of gender issues and this blew me away, I had NEVER heard of a Trans-man. Of course I knew of Trans-women, we see them all over the TV but for some reason I had never reached the logical conclusion that if men could become women then the opposite could be true. At the time I reacted pretty calmly I think, accepting that the confession must have been a difficult one for this person to make and that they must have trusted me deeply in order to make it. The additional kicker was though, this person apparently considered themselves Gay, they liked men, they couldn’t really explain why they were drawn to me but I was a bit of an anomaly. As it turned out, it seemed this person was VERY intuitive.
So, moving a couple of months down the line, we decided I would create a male alt for roleplaying as his lover. I ended up spending more and more time on this alt, not because it was demanded of me but because I actually felt “better” when I was using this av. You see the thing was, in real life I’d never really felt “right” but I could never put my finger on what the problem was. I’d always felt like I wasn’t living the life I was meant to. It had been these feelings that were at the centre of the Depression I had suffered from since my teens, which had sometimes been so powerful I had attempted suicide three times in the past. Then, my Second Life Transgendered Lover said “You know, sometimes I forget you’re a woman you’re SO like a man”. We laughed about it at the time.
It took a little while but those words seemed to slowly seep into my consciousness; I started to look at my life, experiences that had never really made sense and I asked myself, if I was meant to be male, would that make sense? They did. I started searching for Transmen online, finding blogs, video blogs and websites all describing their personal experiences, their feelings and everything just started falling into place. Finally I talked with my SL Lover and confessed I too was Transgendered, he wasn’t even remotely surprised and with his support I began to accept who I was and for the first time in my life I felt I knew who I was.
It’s sad but due to other issues we ended up splitting up as a couple and were estranged for a while, during this time I came out to my parents in real life and began to seek support from my doctor. I stopped coming to Second Life for about 6 months while I got my real life in order, but when that time was done I decided I would come back, but I would come back with my original avatar Angel .. Angel had always been ME not a roleplay character, so in order to continue that I had to make Angel Male. I changed Angel’s profile, and of course the Avatar itself, initially the look was quite androgynous, perhaps as I was still in a place where I was coming to terms with things but as months and now years have past Angel has become distinctly male but the blue eyes remain, a symbol that the soul of the person within hasn’t changed. I’ve been open and honest about my RL situation in my profile throughout, I was never sure what kind of reaction that would provoke but I’m happy to report I’ve had nothing but positive responses.
After counselling and talking with my family and taking a long time to consider the options for myself I have opted not to transition to male in real life. For some Transfolk it is a necessity, for me, simply knowing who I am, and why I felt so “wrong” all those years is enough at this time to make me feel happy in myself. I’ve never been a girly girl and so will continue as I am, with Angel as my alter-ego always there as a representation of the part of me few will know in real life.
I’ve met some amazing people in Second Life since my return who have become great friends, I reconnected with my former lover and we reformed a strong friendship, I have had relationships which have sadly not lasted but hey that’s SL! Most importantly in real life I no longer take medication for depression, I am in a new loving relationship with an incredible man and I am the happiest with myself that I’ve ever been.
Second Life brought me the person who opened my eyes to a world I never knew, a world that quite literally changed who I am and for that I will always love it. I’m not as present as used to be, my RL is dictating that right now, but I think as long as it’s here, I’ll be around.
BIO: Angel Slocombe is a Builder of Family Homes, mean Uncle and occasional SL photographer.