Just a Girl

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“You treat everybody the same because everybody’s got skeletons. Some people just hide them more. Some don’t get brought to the light, but ain’t nobody perfect. Nobody.” – Zach Randolph, Memphis Grizzlies

I’d love to tell you fine folks that I’m here to talk about GP Toronto, or a sweet Standard brew. Unfortunately, I’m not. In fact, this article is only tangentially about Magic at all and I would understand if those readers who are here to read about the beautiful game we all share closed this window and left now. I know that I would if the subject didn’t matter so much to me so I’ll forgive anyone who walks away right now.

Still here? Good because we have a lot of ground to cover and absolutely none of it is going to be any fun. I’m sorry. Before we get started however I think it’s important that I share a few simple facts with you to help frame our discussion:

  • I’m 35 years old, originally from Detroit (and Windsor) and I live in Toronto now
  • I’m Christian and by that I mean I believe in the teachings of Jesus Christ.
  • I’m legitimately addicted to Magic, it’s my only real hobby and I play almost every day
  • I’m a post-op transgendered woman; though I have always thought of myself as a girl the world most certainly has not always agreed with me.
  • I have a wonderful boyfriend who I love with all of my heart; he looks like a Celtic Warrior god and he’s about as 100% “man” as you can get. No perfumes, manicures or metrosexual haircuts here folks. Also, he likes girls; A LOT. Sometimes to my chagrin in fact.
  • I’m not a “queen”, a “performance artist”, a “transvestite”, or “Boy George”
  • I’m not a victim; actually my life is pretty amazing

If you don’t know me personally I’m going to guess that your jaw dropped to the floor around about bullet number four there. That’s okay, I’m not angry with you for that at all. The truth is that sometimes humans have a hard time handling new things and the confusion they bring. Even as adults, the mind recoils at unexpected changes and we quickly dismiss these things as “weird” or “scary” to protect our current world view. This doesn’t make you a bad person; it makes you human. The problem comes after the initial shock has worn off; once you’re done being scared or confused, where do we go from there? Do you find me repulsive? Are you offended about my personal life? Do you find it fascinating? Do you have all sorts of icky questions you want to ask me? Do you feel the need to explain to me that I have offended your God somehow? Do you want to understand me? Do you feel pity? Just one more question folks; would it surprise you to know that I don’t care what you think?

Let’s stop talking about me for a second and talk about you. If you’re here I’m going to assume you play Magic and, statistically speaking, that means you’re probably male, and between the ages of eighteen and thirty. Obviously I’m generalizing here but the math says that most of you reading this article will match that description pretty well. You’re probably reasonably well off financially (Modern Jund decks don’t grow on trees) and there’s a pretty good chance you have or are in the process of obtaining a University education. You’re also probably (cauc)asian; again guys, we’re just playing the percentages here. Finally I can safely assume based on the above information that the vast majority of the time you sit down to play Magic the person across from you also matches this description. Not every time, but most of the time.

But you don’t think of that, do you? When you’re sitting down to play your opponent in round six of a PTQ there’s a lot going through your mind. You’re wondering “who’s the favorite in this matchup”,” is my opponent any good”, “will my opening hand be good enough” and ultimately, “can I win?” At no point in time do you stop to consider the sex of your opponent, his personal life history, whether or not he likes girls, if he really left the house looking like that, or whether he has a personal relationship with your God. Why? The answer is actually pretty obvious; because you’re both Magic players, here to win a match and all of these thoughts are completely irrelevant in the pursuit of that goal. You do not care about the answers to any of those questions and we both know it. In fact it’s probably a pretty good idea for you to actively avoid those questions and focus on your match and precise technical play.

If you stop and think about that for a moment there’s actually something really beautiful going on here. When we sit down to play Magic we share a simple common bond with our opponent that breaks down barriers like age, race, gender, political opinions and religious views. Hell, two people who don’t even speak the same language can usually come together and play a game of Magic as long as both players know the cards by sight. We are united by the common bonds of competition, sportsmanship and the desire to beat the holy crap out of our opponents with our sweet, sweet Magic cards. That’s why you attend tournaments isn’t it? Would it shock you to know that this is why I attend tournaments as well? If your friends said “hey, let’s go down to the card shop and stare at all the weirdos while calling people faggots all day” would that have the same appeal to you as a Magic player? I’m guessing the answer is no folks; if only because a “yes” means you’d probably be way too busy picketing a gay soldier’s funeral to find time for Magic on Saturdays.

So now you know who I am, and I’ve offered a pretty rough statistical skeleton of who you might be, what exactly do we have in common folks? Oh right; that thing called “being a Magic Player!” No matter how different we are, we both really dig this silly little card game that’s pretty much intellectual crack and neither one of us is giving that up for anything. This, right here is our common bond and it’s the single biggest reason why absolutely nothing about our differences is relevant for the next 50 minutes (plus turns, hates you precious Tron player). Assuming you’re a rational person capable of critical thought I’m willing to bet you see where I’m going with this already. I’m a Magic player just like you and I want to be thought of, judged as and treated like a Magic player by my peers and opponents in this community. I don’t want your understanding, your pity, your empathy, your ignorance, your hatred or frankly even your respect. I don’t care what you think of me as a person and I hope you understand that I’m not wasting a single ounce of mental energy judging you as a person either. We’re here to battle, nothing more and nothing less. Those of you who understand this simple concept are free go now; class dismissed, you passed with flying colors. These next two sections are about to get ugly and I don’t want y’all to feel like I’m painting everyone with the same wretched brushes I’m about to bust out here.

Okay so maybe you’re a bigot? I realize that’s a little harsh, there could of course be a few other reasons why you’re still here reading this. You may have very strong religious views that you feel I haven’t properly addressed. You may simply be the kind of pedantic jackass who likes to get into fights on the internet about his First Amendment rights and how they specifically allow him to call people faggots, homos and drag queens if he likes. I really can’t say for sure but I feel pretty confident that what I’m about to say will still apply regardless of why you’re still here. Let’s break it down in bullet points:

  • You aren’t special and neither are your opinions. The world is full of people who share these opinions and have no problem sharing them with others. Nothing you can say to me, no hurtful question you can ask is ever original; I’ve heard them all before, just as countless women in my situation have heard them. You’re a broken record and it’s a pretty boring one.
  • You don’t get to judge other people’s sexuality. Who they fuck, how they self-identify, and what department they shop in at Walmart is not something you get to “agree” or “disagree” with. They are facts and when you say “I don’t agree” you sound like an ancient primitive arguing that the world isn’t round. No really, it’s that bad.
  • You are not the final arbiter of God’s word, nor are you his instrument of judgment. This one is mostly directed towards my fellow Christians but there’s some wisdom here no matter what religion you practice; even Humanism. I feel this is pretty self-explanatory but for those of you still confused let me spell it out. God loves me; every single line, every single chapter, every single scrap of information Jesus left us tells me so. I love God; every moment that I am awake and alive tells me so. Do you notice that you aren’t involved here? Try reading the New Testament folks; there’s a lot more to the bible than the book of Leviticus.
  • You ain’t no prize either buttercup. Yes, I said it. You sit across from me and you see a freak, an object of derision, and a weaker, broken human you can score points on to make yourself feel better. Know what I see? A scared little kid who doesn’t know how to dress himself, has never played a sport that didn’t involve a Wii paddle in his life, has never kissed a girl and obsesses about what he’s missing constantly. I see someone who rather than taking life by the horns receded into his own head with silly little cards and silly little hateful opinions. I wonder if your parents are proud of you and I doubt that they are. We’re even. Shut the fuck up and play so we can both move out of each other’s lives as quickly as possible.
  • Your First Amendment rights don’t mean sweet fuck all to me sir and in the really real world they don’t mean sweet fuck all to anyone else either. Again, self-explanatory but it breaks down pretty simply. When the local police kick in your door and arrest you for writing an article in the student newspaper about corruption on campus, you have a First Amendment issue. When you start crying about your constitutional right to call people faggots whenever you feel like it? You have a “fucking moron” issue. Shockingly society doesn’t care about your right to be a fucking moron; even if the law implies that it does.

Okay, that was pretty rough. I understand and apologize for the shock that may have caused you. With that having been said, we’re talking about some pretty serious issues here and it makes no sense to beat around the bush. Thankfully we’re almost done but there is one more group of people I’d like to address before I climb down off this soapbox. I’d also like to apologize for the reaction this is going to cause in some of you but at this point I don’t think it can be avoided. This section is for all of the other transgendered individuals in Magic who’re “going through” these “dark times”:

  • You are not defined by your sex or sexuality. You are a person and with that comes a myriad of hopes, dreams, pressures, thoughts, ideas and emotions. The fact that you’re transgendered is only ONE small part of the multi-faceted miracle that is you. When you choose to self-identify ONLY with your gender/sexuality you are literally helping small minded people stuff you into a box and discard you as a human being.
  • You are not a victim. I can’t stress the importance of this point enough. You are not powerless, you are not weak, and you do not need to be protected. The enemy is fear and ignorance and you do absolutely nothing to help yourself by feeding the hyenas. Nobody said this was going to be easy when you signed up Princess; you pretty much had to know this was coming right? So fight back. Don’t take it. Stop pretending you can’t hear the laughs and snide comments. Turn right to your tormentor and ask him “what the fuck does that mean?” Take the battle to THEM! He thinks you’re a freak? Remind him that he’s a fat bigot. Stand up for yourself as a person and do not ALLOW them to hurt you. You have no control over what people say but you’ll be damned if you can’t control your response to it.
  • You aren’t special either honey and you don’t deserve special treatment. Look, maybe this isn’t you okay? Maybe you’re just happy to attend the Magic tournament, play some cards and be “one of the guys” without having to dress like one of them and live a horrifying lie. That’s fine. Some of you however, can fairly accurately be described as “drama queens” on par with Shannon Doherty. Life isn’t all about you and your sexuality. Most of the people in the room came here for a Magic tournament, not to test their pass-ability in public or to strut around in revealing clothing and “piss off muggles”. You do us all a disservice when you behave this way; find a bar, leave my Magic tournament alone.
  • Your life is actually pretty amazing. Let’s be real here ladies, one-hundred years ago most of us would be dead; either because we were lynched or because medical technology held no hope of resolving our condition. Fifty years ago it would be difficult for us to walk out in public during the transitioning process or frankly afterwards. Twenty-five years ago we were a punch line on daytime TV; an object of derision and humiliation for all to see. Ten years ago they made a movie about transgendered women and had a genetic girl star in it. You’ve come a long way baby, so maybe it’s time to get down off the cross and start living your life?
  • It’s your life. What you get out of it, your fulfillment, your happiness… all of these things are on you. If you’re reading this you already know how to play your way out of a bad hand. Do you want to waste all that by letting the haters get you down? Now? After you’ve been through so much already? The finish line is coming sweetie, just hang in there.

Okay folks, I’ve said my peace. I hope I didn’t offend too many people but I feel like that’s an acceptable consequence if even one single person learned something from this wretched exercise. For me, this felt a lot like repeating obvious truths over and over but a quick scan of the various articles on the Internetz about this subject makes it clear that they aren’t “obvious” to everyone. I still love you all (and Magic) as much as I did yesterday but I sure am tired of going around this same circle forever. Hopefully I never have to write another article like this again but frankly I’m not holding my breath that this will change anything. In the words of the immortal Tupac, “Life goes on”.

-nina

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