My name is Tia, and I am a transgender gamer.
The process of transition can be difficult, emotionally and practically.† Even if one doesnít intend to undergo physical transition through hormones and surgery, it involves legal name changes, paperwork to change the gender on oneís ID, and working oneís way through other forms of identification - including online identification.
Iíve worked my way through much of that process, and, in gaming, it has been remarkably painless.† Nintendo and Microsoft switched my gender on my profiles with a simple email to their customer service departments, and Microsoft even waived the usual fee for changing user IDs (from the gender-neutral one I once used to a specifically-female one Iíve embraced since fully coming out).† When dealing with two of the three major console developers, I felt embraced and understood, part of a shining moment of tolerance and acceptance in the often-problematic gender politics of gaming.
Then I contacted Sony.
Sony does not allow users to change the gender or display name on their account, ever, for any reason.† The customer service employee with whom I exchanged messages told me, as if it were supposed to be a comfort, that they would not make that change even if I were requesting it because Iíd clicked the wrong option during account creation.† The suggested workaround was that I create a new account - one to which I would not be able to import previously purchased content or saved games, such as my DC Universe Online characters.† The employee was obviously attempting to show empathy, which I deeply appreciated, but the policy is deliberately and senselessly hurtful.
This experience is made worse by another recent experience with my PS3 - I recently played Journey for the first time.† A great deal has been written about Journey, and my three hours with it were among the best Iíve ever spent playing a game.† In particular, the design and feel of the playable character - androgynous, vaguely feminine, spritely and agile - allowed me to feel myself in her robes, in a form that fits me far better than the body into which I was born ever has.† It was a very nearly transcendent experience, one which moved me to tears of joy.
It leaves me baffled about how the same company that published Journey can be so thoroughly clueless about the issues of gender identity.
Sony must change this policy.† Itís a simple, tiny thing, one that causes deep hurt to people already going through difficulty without creating a benefit to anyone at all.