SOMA: A Trans-Simon Experience

This piece will talk about story spoilers and various other game spoilers for SOMA. I suggest playing the game yourself or watching an LP of the game before reading this piece. You can also look over the SOMA wikia to inform yourself of the story and key events. Without this game/story knowledge, this piece may be confusing.

—SOMA SPOILERS BELOW—

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Short and Long-Term Effects of Family Rejection on LGBTQ Youth

A family’s most basic functions include support, both emotional and financial. Our family are the first relationships we develop and are usually the ones that we hold onto the longest, from birth to death. These bonds are not only meant to integrate us into society but prepare us for our own families when the time or choice comes (Hammond & Cheney, 2009). What happens when these family units do not fulfill their most basic functions and cast out their family members for things that are often not a choice, such as gender or sexual orientation?

Family rejection can happen for a number of reasons from personal differences, religious problems, alcohol/drug use, arguments, and so forth. However, many times families can settle their differences and still continue to act as a unit, even if they do not necessarily get along. However there are occasions where this rejection is lifelong from the moment it happens. This can lead to short and long-term health effects, both mentally and physically, regardless of age. The impact is most significant if this rejection happens during youth and is over things that cannot be changed, such as gender or sexuality (Lowrey, 2010).

These effects can range from homelessness, increased depression, increased suicidal thoughts and tendencies, to higher accounts of HIV/AIDS and drug use/alcoholism (Ryan, Russell, Huebner, Diaz, & Sanchez, 2010). This rejection can also lead to being in and out of the criminal justice system due to the criminalization of homelessness as well as survival tactics such as the survival sex trade (Valentino, 2011). These problems are also affected by experiencing racism, transmisogyny (misogyny directed specifically at trans women), as well as sexism, heterosexism, and other institutional oppressions. For example, a Black trans women will face more problems on the streets than a White cisgender (meaning non-transgender) gay male (Grant, Mottet, Tanis, Harrison, & Herman, 2011). These impacts are both short and long-term, impacting a person’s life from the moment the rejection happens and beyond.

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What ARE You?: Confusion in a Confusing World

“What are you?”

Honestly, I’m not quite sure. I am a trans man…..sort of. I do not entirely identify with man and trans is more of a description for me than man ever has been. I am non-binary, but that is just as vague as saying I have some sort of gender, but I’m not quite sure what it is, no matter how true that is. I am not confused as to who I am, I know that part quite well, but what I am is quite a bit trickier.

Imagine someone handing you a color swatch. They are painting their house and need to figure out how to describe the type of color. They want your help. You look at the swatch. The swatch is purple…kind of. It’s not exactly purple but, that is the closest word you know to describe it. It is clearly not green, orange, or red. However, purple is not quite the correct term. Purple-ish? Not exactly quite right either. You know what the color is not, but you can only describe certain qualities of the color, not the color itself.

Thus, for me, man is the closest I can get to my identity in the current word pool I am allowed and know. However, it is not entirely correct, thus I use non-binary, however, even then, it is imperfect.

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“Won’t Someone Think of the Children!?”

Warning: This post is dripping with sarcasm. Like, high levels that might be toxic.

“Defendant Toone denied Ms. Joganik’s request and stated that he did not want Ms. Joganik to wear female clothing in the park because ‘there are children around the pool’”. Children around the pool, won’t someone ever think of the children? When it comes to queer and trans* people, this is something that is played like a broken record as a reason we should never be visibly queer. What if some poor, hapless, innocent child sees these queer people? What will the kid think? How will it affect them?

The answer to this question is easy, it won’t. Most children that these parents are trying to protect are small infants or toddlers, many of whom won’t even remember the incident 10 minutes later. The worst the parent will get is “why is that ‘man’ wearing a dress?” or something of that nature. The simple answer is, “because they are a woman, not a man”. Most kids will take this and be done. If they are at that age where they play the why game for hours, it’s pretty simple to turn it around. Well, why are you a boy/girl/whatever?

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#CognitiveCissonance

Trigger Warning: Trans*phobia, transmisogyny, cissexism

On September 2, the hashtag #CognitiveCissonance made its way around twitter, mostly from trans* people. Started by @AmyDentata, the obvious word play on cognitive dissonance was made to point out the hypocritical and double-standard that many cis people have towards the identities, presentations, and lives of trans* people. For example, the idea that trans women must present en femme to really be women and that trans men must be masculine to truly be male. Cognitive cissonance was a witty way to expose every day trans*phobia and cissexism.

cc4

Cognitive Cissonance became a trend through accident. Being a writer, who enjoys bringing comedy into what she writes, the original tweet was based in snark and wordplay (obviously). What started as an off-the-cuff joke turned into a massive twitter following in the trans* twitter world. Something about the simplicity and catchiness of #cognitivecissonance caught on like a wildfire. People began basing their own tweets off of Amy’s original tweet. “I guess maybe the phrase just happened to describe that phenomenon succinctly enough to drive the point home”, she mentioned when asked why she felt the hashtag became so popular, “I think trans people, myself included obviously, are sick of the double-standards, hypocrisy, and two-faced behaviors that result from cissexism and all the beliefs that go with it.”

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I Am Valid

What makes people like Eddie Izzard, a self proclaimed transvestite*1, drag queens, cross-dressers, and other male identified people allowed to exist, but me not? How is their identity any more valid than mine? What makes me, someone much like Eddie Izzard or other ‘full-time’ cross-dressers, different? We are both men who enjoy and prefer feminine articles of clothing. While he might prefer dresses and skirts to my bell-bottoms, or flats to my heels, we are basically the same. Are we not? I mean, he does wear a lot more make-up than I do.

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Attention! This Is Not A Trend

There are two things in the queer community that need to be addressed and need to stop. I see non-queer people doing this as well, but most of the issue seems to be in the community itself. These two things are the idea of ‘trend tr*nnies’ and identity policing. While similar and intertwined, they are two unique issues.

‘Trend tr*nnies’ are trans* people who are trans* (and very open about it) just for attention. They are believed to hopping on a bandwagon just to be unique and different. Here is the problem with this. You are questioning people on something they only know. Also, these people tend to be teenagers. Teenagers tend to try on identities, personalities, likes, dislikes, etc. It’s part of being a teenager. It’s part of growing up. Gender and sexuality are extremely fluid and can change. This does not mean that the previous identity was not real or true. It is possible that this identity was just not a perfect fit for them or something that no longer fits. As for being loud, obnoxious, and abrasive with their identities, that is just how young adults are, especially with something new. They do not know all the social trappings that come with interacting with the world.
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