Before getting serious, check out this awesome preview for Mists of Akuma on ENWorld or this actual play YouTube video of the Defective Geeks Podcast playing their first real game of D&D! Kickstarter launch on Friday April 29th.
There’s an awful lot of talk going on right now regarding peoples’ (poorly thought out, immature, and irresponsible) responses to a transgender character that appears in Siege of Dragonspear (here is one of like a bajillion articles to that effect).
While I applaud anyone that takes a stand and defends trans individuals (or anyone being oppressed) and the appearance of Mizhena, I am afraid that in the rally that some of us may be responding to this in a way that is ultimately counter-productive.
Note: I am a CIS whatever usual tapioca flavored caucasian white male, so I’m not very comfortable making this post. If you are offended by it, the only apology I can muster is sarcastic so I’m afraid you’re going to have to keep on being offended.
When making the Veranthea Codex, one of my writers — a very talented and awesome also CIS whatever usual tapioca flavored caucasian white male (although he might be latino I’m not sure, I just know he talks about tacos frequently, so maybe taco flavored), Luis Loza — wanted to include a character that was genderfluid.
I was like “SWEET! Everything you do is f$(%ing magic you time-traveling idea-stealing son of a bitch!” and we got to work on it. The copy was submitted, the text was edited, an art asset acquired, and I included Jee Soo Mi (for those of you who can rationalize thoughts, yes that’s intentional) in an update for backers.
For the most part, things seemed fine — nobody set fire to anything and few people even liked the update. I thought nothing of it save that Luis had annoyingly forced me to learn a new pronoun (which I’ll note has grown on me since).
Then I got a message from one of my backers that was displeased with this addition to the book.
All of our dialogue is posted below (with the specific backer’s name withdrawn) — but before we get there I want to strike at what’s really troubling me about all of this.
THESE ARE PEOPLE THAT ARE AFRAID.
DO NOT CONFRONT THEM WITH ANYTHING YOU WOULD NOT CONFRONT A FEARFUL PERSON WITH.
Are they right to be afraid? F$*% no.
Seriously there’s no statistic in the world today that would support their fear and in fact, on the whole trans people are generally less violent and more productive than your average CIS whatever usual tapioca flavored caucasian white male.
My point here has nothing to do with the justification of their fear or even why (which likely has to do with us being shitty to one another in our youth and is itself a product of fear). My concern is that you cannot scare someone into believing something, particularly when they are already afraid (and this is coming from a former catholic, “the religion of scaring you” [my quote]).
CONSIDER HOW YOU ARE GIVING THESE PEOPLE THE WATER
No matter what I am wrong about — absolutely no matter what it is (even the earth being round, or that Robin Hood is the basis for Green Arrow [which he clearly is but you’ll never hear me admit that to my ex]) — if you are trying to convince me that I am wrong by yelling at me or denigrating me, the chances of convincing me of anything are vastly reduced because you are aggressive, making it less and less of a rational argument.
Because I am a stupid, stubborn bastard (ask my ex, she’ll tell you all about that).
If someone gets up in arms about having a trans character in their gaming or narrative experience, you can rest assured that they are at least as stupid or stubborn as I am (if not more so).
BUT MIKE THIS IS IMPORTANT AND THESE PEOPLE NEED TO KNOW BETTER
You’re right! They totally do need to learn that their beliefs are unfairly flawed. They need to be taught that they are incorrect in their fearful response to something not already inside their comfort zone. You won’t convince them by badgering them, or by vehemently commenting on their poor manners, or by anything save for being awesome and persuading them.
You get more flies with honey.
I was lucky — most of the time when I don’t take the sensible advice (which in this case included a warning not to engage this person), things explode in my face. But right here — RIGHT HERE — is evidence of someone having their mind changed by a persuasive, rational argument (and although we didn’t make it to the touch down line, we covered a lot of the field and I’m happy with that because I don’t expect someone to adopt whole new paradigms in a single sitting).
What made them change their mind?
A rational argument that emphasized empathy.
I told this backer that
1) he was not alone in his misunderstanding or fear
2) that his issue really isn’t that weird and can easily fit into his comfort zone
3) by being pleasant to the person I was arguing with
Will everyone come to the table to hear this argument?
No, but most of them will if you give them ample time and put seats around the table. Very few people truly want to sit by themselves.
Will everyone come to the table for this argument if I jam it in a spot in the room where they can’t walk around it?
You can bet your sweet ass I wouldn’t sit at that f#(%ing table if you forced me down into a chair and tightened the straps, completely and totally regardless of what is on the table.
So again — I applaud you for standing up for what is right.
Just don’t forget what it is you’re trying to do by standing up and please resist the urge to leap onto the table and yell at somebody because every time you do that, you are making it harder for these people to accept that they are wrong.
We have all been afraid. Don’t get trapped in the fear trap by propagating it, regardless of your motives.
EDIT: It looks like Beamdog (the game’s developer and current subject of controversy) is taking a step backwards and stride forward (there is a separate issue with Minsc mentioning a line referring to GamerGate, another instance where I urge you to sit at the table and not on it).
While I think the Minsc line sounds fine and doesn’t deserve removal, good for them on promising to expand the character of Mizhena in an update.