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World of Warcraft helps player come out as transgender

Gamer and writer Laura Kate Dale has written a piece in UK newspaper The Guardian about her use of World of Warcraft as something akin to a testing ground for her transgender identity. As Laura Kate explains, the great thing about online games such as WoW is that you can be whoever you want to be. As she recounts her exploration of female names and identities in-game, she also relays the contrast between her in-game happiness and the outside world. It's compelling reading, revealing as it does how escapism can be simultaneously a wonderful and a dangerous experience.

Unfortunately, Laura Kate was eventually "outed" by her in-game friends, to whom she had presented herself as female. This in itself was a learning experience, in which she discovers how people can react to someone presenting as a gender different to the one they are born with. Laura Kate ended up leaving WoW for good. But, she looks back on it fondly, as a safe place to build confidence, experiment, and to be whoever she wanted to be.

Online identity is extremely fluid, and WoW can be a great escape. As the article presents, it is usually far more important how your DPS stacks up, or how good you are at moving out of fire that defines you in WoW. Before gender is even part of the assessment, performance is often the first element of your character that people see. This can make it a safe and comfortable place to try new things, and to express yourself differently than the real world might permit. It's heartwarming to hear how WoW allows people a safe place to try new things, and find friends. Had openly LGBTQ-friendly communities like that of Proudmoore-US been around, Laura Kate's experience might have been even better.

Editor's Note: Comments have been removed from this article.

Filed under: Analysis / Opinion

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