We talked about transgender bullying before, but there is no bullying going on here. Is there coddling? You be the judge.
Hi Robin, Lisa
Roughly three years ago, a "girl" joined our guild. She was under our 18+ limit, but we forgot to ask at the time of recruitment so afterwards, we told her to remain in the guild she would have to show mature behaviour. She's now 19.
Over the years, she has had her ups and downs. She acts out. She acts up. She smartens up. The cycle repeats. She has been warned her behaviour would have consequences. She has been demoted, promoted, demoted again.
I rarely become close to people in the game simply because I don't want to be attached on a certain level, but she reminds me so much of me when I was her age. Insecure, bullied, and very alone. The Internet, for me, brought me out of my shell and gave me the bravery to face the real world. I just worry she uses it as a crutch. I have encouraged her to move on from the Internet and do things in the Real World. Since then, she has improved in school dramatically and gotten a job.
I am so very, very proud of her. But she still sometimes regresses.
The other day, while I was offline, she and an officer - both who have never liked each other - got into it in guild chat. Her behaviour was decidedly worse so while the officer was privately reprimanded for bad behaviour, she was removed from the guild.
She came online and found the politely worded letter explaining why she was no longer with us and contacted me, very upset. She was crying. I know this because her reaction was so emotional and alarming I phoned her.
And she...is a he. A he who came out of the closet to me, the first person he's ever told. He wishes that he was actually a woman, but doesn't have any one to turn to. This breaks my heart that she has no one at all. We spoke a long time about that, and I reassured her we would still treat her the same, and it wouldn't matter. To us - all of us - it doesn't matter. I even joked the officer who disliked her would still dislike her exactly the same. Our guild app even has a button that says 'by clicking here, you confirm you are NOT a raging homophobe.' We're LGBT friendly. We've had homosexual people, transgendered people, and bisexual people in our guild. We have them in our guild NOW. And it doesn't matter.
Once she had calmed down and I had convinced her I was still her friend and it wouldn't matter to me and she was NOT a freak, I laid out some very severe hoops and restrictions for rejoining and re-invited her to join the guild. The next day, she told me it was like the world had been lifted off her shoulders, and she's trying to work up the nerve to tell her mom.
She also is very close friends with another guy in our guild. I have told her she should tell him the truth and he won't care -- though there's probably no chance of romance. I feel comfortable doing that because I know this fellow's step-dad recently separated from his mother -- to become a woman herself. Transgender issues aren't going to shock him or upset him.
I honestly believe now - with her big secret out and no longer eating at her, and with the threat of booting become 'real' - she will behave.
But the officer gave me a 'it's either her or me' solution, and when I wouldn't budge, left the guild. He did so without saying anything to the guild, which I appreciated. I was able to have a polite discussion with the guild that didn't lay blame on anyone, point fingers, or cause any extra drama. I don't dislike him. I'm sad, if anything, and hope our friendship continues. He has been such a wonderful asset to the guild and he'll be missed by everyone.
He accused me of giving this girl too many chances, and said I changed my mind on the booting due to her 'sob story.' And I can't lie. Hearing her so broken up and sad -- and witnessing her bravery in telling me the secret, her actual name, and letting me hear her voice (which being as there's been no gender reassignment work, is still male) did affect me. But I think I would have honestly let her back in for a final chance. Sometimes, you don't really realize the threat of action is true until action is taken.
My other officers are extremely supportive. Some agree she's had too many chances, but they don't disagree with my reasons for taking her back in the guild. They are very supportive of her and are waiting for her to come out to them so they can openly support her.
I suppose what I want to know here is if I am doing the right thing. I am doing the right thing taking her back into the guild, and choosing her over the officer? She has been here longer than he has, but she has caused minor drama incidents in the past with emotional outbursts. (Then again, I've been known to throw some major temper tantrums at times, and have to crawl back to my own guildies and apologize). Am I doing the right thing by encouraging her to come out to the rest of the guild? I'm really concerned about the advice I gave her about coming out to her family. She barely has any support from them now as it is, and I worry if she comes out and they turn her back on her, she will have no one...so I told her to wait until she had a safety net in case of the worst-case scenario.
I asked my mom, and she gave me the same advice -- but my mom, while not homophobic, doesn't seem to accept or understand LGBT issues as I do. So I guess it's time to ask the other moms.
Everything-confused, not gender-confused
Drama Mama Robin: Everything-confused, I don't think the teen's gender has anything to do with the guild situation. She misbehaved after several warnings and was rightfully gkicked because of this. The gender identity and issues she has to deal with because of it do not absolve her of treating others poorly. I'm not saying you shouldn't have given her another chance, particularly with all of the conditions you laid out. I am saying that you should have handled that re-invite differently. Your officers are there to back you up when you're not there. You need to have their back in turn.
You said yourself that your guild is made up of tolerant, understanding people. Rather than re-inviting the misbehaving teen back into the guild behind everyone's back, you could have brought the option to your leadership. If you had stated the conditions -- made it clear that if the conditions weren't met, you would re-kick her -- and then brought the reinvite up for a vote, you might have been able to keep the disgruntled officer as well as given the teen another chance. You unilaterally made a decision that undermined one of your officers. I am impressed that he left without making drama, and I think he was right to leave.
As far as the coming out questions, my advice differs for each group. Since it is basically in your guild's charter to be tolerant, I think encouraging the teen to come out to the guild is a good idea. It's always better in a social group to feel you are all on the same level of honesty.
Coming out to her family is a whole other can of worms. As you said, she has no safety net. I think she really should focus on becoming self-sufficient and self-supportive before risking her home. I found what looks like an excellent guide to coming out to one's family that you may want to pass on to her. But even it warns that the guide may not be useful if there is a possibility of the family disowning her. What it comes down to is that the risk is all on her end, and she needs to make the decision to come out to her family herself.
I really hope that the teen uses this opportunity to change her behavior in a supportive environment. She'll have a better time with the world accepting her if she's treating the people in it with respect and maturity.
Drama Mama Lisa: Exactly so, Robin. This situation is a rat's nest of excuses -- and there's really no excuse at all for repeated bad behavior. At some point, even the youngest, most inexperienced and personally challenged among us must be held accountable for the way we treat others. This teen is no different. No matter whether she is happy or sad, male or female, supported or alone, under pressure or pulled together ... This pup has to keep her feisty temper and her tooth and claw to herself if she wants to run with the pack. That's simply the way groups work.
Kudos to you for recognizing and being sympathetic to her issues; she's definitely got a lot on her plate! However, you're not doing anyone any favors by re-inviting a player who's proven to be incapable of controlling personal drama. Your responsibility here is clearly to your guild, to make it a place where members can play and socialize together in an enjoyable, compatible way. As much as you'd like to offer a welcoming guild home for this girl, she simply doesn't seem capable of playing nicely with the other kids in the sandbox.
This doesn't mean you can't support this teen through her issues. It sounds as if you and at least one other member have built some personal rapport with her; this is where to channel your concern. Hopefully, your relationship with her will allow you to clearly separate the issues of her record of misbehavior and subsequent guild removal with her personal issues. While you must firmly close the door on the former, you can certainly continue to offer support with the latter. With a little luck, she'll hear you out and be able to move forward. Be gentle but firm and supportive, and this can be an opening door for her rather than simply a closing one.
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