Games

Dont underestimate video games, without them I wouldnt be here

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World of warcraft logo on computer

World of Warcraft had a profound effect on me (Picture: Getty)

Growing up, video games were my escape, providing an avenue where I could explore who I was.

It was one particular video game – a mass multiplayer online roleplaying game called World of Warcraft – that had a profound effect on me and ultimately led to me coming out as a trans person.

I played on what is called a roleplaying server – a server where people create characters within the games fantasy world and act out them out with other players.

As the years went on, I also got to know the players behind the other characters. As I only roleplayed characters that were women, people assumed that I was also a girl.

Without giving it much thought I went along with it. I was still just a teenager and wasnt able to articulate yet that I was trans, but this is where I started taking my first steps in exploring who I really was.

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I had never even met another trans person knowingly at that point so trying to explain something I couldnt even explain myself seemed impossible, and irrelevant.

Things became a lot more complicated when this friendship group proposed a meeting in real life. I impulsively bought a plane ticket to go see them, with no idea how I was actually going to do it.

Up until this point I had never really presented myself femininely, aside from winning a few drag shows.

Walking around like a drag queen wasnt exactly casual enough, as fabulous as I might have looked. So I confided in my best friend about the situation and asked her to come with me.

Illustration of Owl walking down street in World of Warcraft

I didnt feel like I had to hide anymore (Picture: Fox Fisher)

That summer we spent enormous amounts of time going on secret shopping trips where I pretended to be a boyfriend who was buying clothes for her.

Wed both take clothes in changing rooms next to one another and then secretly pass over clothes for me to try on.

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We meticulously planned every single detail of my look for the meeting and developed secret codes so she could alert me if, for example, my breast padding was popping out or if my skirt was up too high.

I was still just a teenager and wasnt able to articulate yet that I was trans, but this is where I started taking my first steps in exploring who I really was.

When the time came to meet my video game friends I remember being incredibly anxious. As we walked up the stairs at the train station to exit into the arrival hall I spotted the group across the hallway behind the gates. I immediately froze. I told my friend I couldnt do it.

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She took a breath, grabbed my hand, pulling me towards the group, and said: Look, I didnt spend this entire summer preparing you for nothing. Pull yourself together and lets go.

The next few days were among the most profound moments in my life. The sense of relief and freedom was unlike anything I had ever experienced. I didnt feel like I had to hide anymore. Being able to explore my gender in this way, in a place where no one knew I was trans, really gave me an opportunity to just be.

On the way back from this trip, we heard two women speaking Icelandic and as all Icelanders do abroad, we went over and said hi.

At the airport I changed back to more masculine clothing, took off my make-up and tied back my hair, as my passport was still on my old name and gender marker. As we stepped onto the plane, the flight attendants who greeted us were the same women we had a chat with two hours before.

For what seemed like an eternity we just stared at each other. It felt as if my two different worlds were clashing together. I felt exposed, and reality kicked in.

Why was I doing this to myself? The weight that had been lifted off my shoulders during this trip appeared once more, this time even heavier than before.

On our way home I decided that this couldnt go on. I couldnt pretend to be a boy anymore.

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The fact I was spending more time playing video games than out with friends and family was an indication that something truly needed to shift. Video games had become more than a passionate hobby. They had turned into a literal and an unhealthy escape from the world around me.

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