A little backstory: I was DMAB, and today I am a genderqueer woman.
From the moment I started playing videogames, or maybe a bit before or after I did, I subconsciously seeked out queer avatars to represent me, and when that (most often) was not possible, I’d queer them myself. I seemed to be okay with being some bland white dude on the screen when I first picked up a controller, but as I grew up it was more and more wrong. I never was able to identify the problem for most of my life, but I came up with answers to it.
I often liked to make up stories within the narrative of games, nothing very meaningful- a goofy limitless kids imagination in a virtual playground. It didn’t take long for me to invent backstories of the avatars I was forced to play with, to imagine them as anything-but masculine in personality, or secretly wearing the (seemingly magical) clothing I saw girls and women in, or being a tomboy (tomgirl?) that people didn’t question.
I would also look to feminine characters, but in a way I felt wrong for. Other boys around me were clearly attracted to women in media, and maybe I was a little, but I felt something else that nobody ever talked about- I wanted to be more like the women shoved to the sidelines of stories, rather than the men who ran the little worlds. I was conflicted between not understanding myself, being constantly surrounded by heteronormative beliefs of how I was supposed to act and what I was supposed to like, and otherwise existing in a void of information that I had to fill up with my own fears and self-disgust.
Eventually I did find and eagerly play games that gave me the option to have a non-male identified avatar. Early on it felt too strange (likely just too right) to choose characters that were outright feminine, so I would lean towards an avatar that would lend itself more easily to letting me imagine them as how I wanted to see myself, disregarding however the game itself told me to view them. When I first chose the characters I had always been looking up to, it was only when I had my -own- computer that I could use in the privacy of my room.
It’s been a slow process, but I’ve become more and more interested (and comfortable!) in representing myself as queer by choosing feminine avatars- both in games I play by myself, and in social games played with friends. This has been a great starting point for me to bring up my identity, both to myself and to close friends who see me represent myself as more feminine.
Having the ability to be somebody in a digital environment that I can’t easily be in real life is powerful.
Personally, I prefer the “plain Jane” approach to representing female characters; realistic cup size, skin, and other proportions. This shouldn’t entail a damsel in distress personality… I guess what I’m really after is a realistic-looking, decently-dressed Lara Croft.
Jess at http://jesscomix.free.fr