Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Anonymous said...

yeah, but what happens when a male latches onto someone who's male playing a female? When that person doesnt encourage an attachment but they are the subject of a crush and despite repeated hints, is still the object of desire. How do you let them down? is it always going to hurt the person with the crush? Should you ever tell them? or do you perpetuate the illusion hoping they wont ever find out?

Written 25 August, 2008

The Gender Blogs

IX: Disclosure

I’m glad the above comment came in last night, because the post on which I’ve been working is this one, which is about disclosure— and specifically, when and if to tell others one’s real life gender status in Second Life.

­I would like to assert that unless there’s a specific reason for someone to know your gender status, it’s none of their business. It’s that simple.

It’s only when the nature of our interactions with others is such that they have a need to know that we come under a moral obligation to disclose.

It can be difficult to determine exactly when and if one should disclose, as any gay, lesbian, bisexual, or especially transgendered person can attest.

Transgendered people perhaps make for the easiest illustration here.

Suppose you were a male-to-female transsexual, an individual born male but who lived 24 hours a day as a woman. When you went to the grocery store for milk and cabbage, would you be under an obligation to disclose your gender status to other customers or the Haitian woman at the register? Of course not.

Now, some people might argue that there’s an element of deception in transsexualism, and perhaps there is, but perhaps the bigger part of the responsibility lies with the people who blithely assume the gender of others. It’s really not anyone else’s business which gender you are, is it? Is it? Not when you’re just going to the grocery store. Those who take it upon themselves to confront or harass transsexuals in public are really being busybodies. Those who are bothered by that need to take a close look at themselves.

Now suppose that you, as a male-to-female transsexual, join a woman-only social club. Are you a woman? Well, you could argue you are, since you live your life entirely as female. But others could argue that you’re not, since you, unlike most women, had a boyhood. Do the other members of the club have a need to know your status? Perhaps. You’ll be attending meetings and working on joint projects with them—but unless you form an intimate relationship with some of the members, there will really be nothing going on between you and them that would make disclosure essential.

But suppose that instead of a social club it’s a support group. Now you’re listening to the intimate stories of other women and perhaps telling your own. Should you disclose? Depending on the circumstances, again, perhaps.

Let’s further suppose the group is for female survivors of violence. You’re in the company of women who have suffered at the hands of men. Some will be psychologically damaged, and many will have strong negative feelings about men. And no matter how much you may look like and feel like a woman, your past is your past, and it’s not a female past. Should you disclose? It’s easier to argue yes in this circumstance, for the discovery or accidental revelation of your transsexualism would almost certainly be disruptive to the group.

And now let’s consider SL. Suppose you’ve fallen for another avatar, and he or she seems to reciprocate. Poseballs are in your future. Does he or she deserve to know your real life gender status?


But suppose you’re a female working a male avie and a woman falls hard for you. She’s interested in hooking up; you’re not. Are you obligated to tell her?

No. And why not? Because it’s really her issue, and not yours at all. So long as you don’t give in and jump on that Devotion poseball, she has no right to know.

But when she wears you down and you’re ready to jump in the sack with her, you should tell her.

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