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Old 02-10-2011, 05:48 PM   #76 (permalink)
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My RL gender has never been a secret. My policy has always been "don't hide it, but don't advertise it either." Unless they've asked me not to, I do tell very close friends and people I get involved with emotionally.

For a long time I had all my RL info in my RL profile tab, where it belonged. Those who wanted to know could read it. Those who didn't want to know didn't have it shoved in their faces - until recently, anyway. The new web-based profiles put RL info and SL info all on the same page. I ended up clearing out my RL info because of that.
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Old 02-11-2011, 03:43 AM   #77 (permalink)
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I knew there was a good reason I didn't use RL info - except for time zone.
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Old 02-11-2011, 08:01 AM   #78 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Ned Easterwood View Post
I knew there was a good reason I didn't use RL info - except for time zone.
Mine just has a headshot and the notation "18+" (since LL goes back and forth on whether child avatars need to say such).
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Old 02-13-2011, 01:36 AM   #79 (permalink)
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I'm all for honesty once a friendship becomes deeper, and I think that SL / RL becomes blurred however much you tell yourself it won't. Or maybe that's me? I just lose the feeling of 'avatar' fairly quickly with people I like.

That being said, I have a couple of male friends who have female avs, both good friends, and both told me spontaneously. Didn't matter one bit. OK it was a friendship and nothing intimate and I have no idea how I'd have reacted if it was - although I like to THINK it wouldn't matter.

And that being said, I'm all for setting a few ground rules when things do start to become intimate. Ones you're both comfortable with. Such as 'let's keep it out of RL' (in terms of physically meeting).

BUT (and here's the big but), those ground rules can change. And problems arise when, for instance, one of you suddenly wants RL to happen.

That means (or I think it should mean) discussing the dangers of RL being a disappointment, whether you want to run the risk of RL destroying what you have in SL, whether that risk is worth it, what it could do to your RL (if you are already with someone), and how you would deal with it.

All things that seem really obvious at times, but a whole lot less obvious when you are kissing passionately on a virtual beach.
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Old 02-13-2011, 05:36 PM   #80 (permalink)
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I went ahead and added some verbage to my profile to hopefully alert people that I keep SL and RL separate. I liked the answers in this thread, and plan to make a lot more effort to be above board about things, even though I still wish I didn't have to. Thanks to everyone for your thoughts. I really, really appreciate it.
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Old 02-13-2011, 07:44 PM   #81 (permalink)
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When they ask. Unless that's shortly after meeting for the first time, which tends not to be a good sign in my experience.
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Old 02-14-2011, 07:08 PM   #82 (permalink)
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I have pondered this question myself because I do switch genders with my avatars on occasion, though I've never had or tried to have a relationship in SL. On about the one and only occasion where I DID interact with someone for any length of time without them knowing that my rl gender did not fit my avatar of the moment it did end up being surprisingly emotionally charged when they found out from a friend even though they'd only known me a few days. That experience made me rather leery about interacting with new people in avatars that don't fit my rl gender.

The question of disclosure is of course, far less weighty or painful for those, like myself, for whom changing avatar gender is something that can be done with little emotional investment, than it is for others. And with some, of course, it's the disclosure of being transgender or transsexual that is the issue and not being of a different rl gender than their avatar. Still in each, despite the varying levels of investment, it's the same basic question of when and where and whether to tell people.

Lots of sensible advice has been given on this thread, but I wanted to point out a few (obvious!) problems that people might encounter trying to live by the rules of respecting how others use SL or only disclosing in deeper relationships, early on.

One is that you don't necessarily know from the outset what another person is looking for from you, and whether they expect or don't expect your rl gender to be the same as what you present in sl, whether it would be a problem or not from them, whether or not they're looking for a friendship only or a relationship in SL only or RL, or would be open to moving something from SL to RL with the right person. You often really don't know, at first and you may not even know later. You often wouldn't know until it's deep enough in that disclosure becomes scary to some extent.

By the time you DO get to know these things about a person, there is the potential that you will have gotten to the stage of liking them, whether romantically or otherwise, that it becomes some degree of awkward ranging from mild to palpitation inducing to think of disclosing the information to them. And keeping things as they are is so much more attractive to people than risking breaking up the friendship/relationship, yet the longer it goes unsaid the more problematic and difficult and potentially devastating it becomes to tell them.

You could get around this problem by telling absolutely everyone you meet soon after meeting them, but you don't necessarily want to create fuss over your rl and sl gender not matching or have it interfere with how people see you unnecessarily. I think a lot of people do choose this early disclosure option though.

You could add it to your first life tab, where it might be read at any time by anyone or not read until months after you've already been chatting for ages. The problem for me with the first life tab idea is that it would seem to take the moment of disclosure out of your own hands.

So yeah, I suppose there is no perfect solution, though telling people early on is probably ideal if you think there's a chance they'll find it important.

I think it honestly unfortunate that there is an expectation that certain rl details- and gender in particular- should be the same as they are in Second Life. It feels unfortunately limiting in the extent to which SL can offer a chance to be something different if people continuously attach so much weight to avatar appearance matching with aspects of the offline self. I would honestly prefer it if people made no assumptions about rl details matching. People don't generally expect that people look exactly like their avatars in SL in other ways- certainly not everyone in SL can be, irl, the 20-something, stereotypically attractive and well dressed people they appear to be. Yet they do seem to expect certain things- especially gender, to match up more than others, or there is talk of deception and dishonesty.

I'm not saying that these details don't and shouldn't matter to people, especially in close relationships, as much as I'm saying I do think it would save a bit of the heartache and trouble if there was not such a default expectation of rl and sl being the same. If people would not assume, but ask, when it was important to them, it might get rid of at least some of the awkwardness.
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Old 03-02-2011, 12:40 PM   #83 (permalink)
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Wow. Very interesting thread.

Mercedes is my main avie. I am a woman in RL. Sometime in early 2010 I played a male avie for approximately 3 months. I didn't switch back and forth between playing a female and playing a male. The male alt became my main. My reason were complicated. I started playing him to escape a man who was giving me a lot of grief in RL and SL. The story goes deeper, but I won't bore you with the details. Simply put, the relationship (which went very much into real life) had left me feeling like I hated myself and wanted to be anything but who I was.

What started out as a simple way to hide from my ex, while still being able to enjoy SL, became much more. I became immersed in the role. I was true to my avie. I found women, when I told them that I only wanted to be friends, accept that and remained my friends while men (on my female avie), when told the same thing, did not. I felt empowered for some strange reason. I felt like a powerless victim at the mercy of men while on my female avie, while as a male, I did not. I felt much more like myself. My personality started to come out more. I truly loved experiencing SL from a whole different perspective.

Soon enough I met a woman. We became fast friends. I was very clear that I did not cross over the SL into RL lines. She agreed it was the same for her. Blah, blah blah, times goes by and we become intimate. I find that I love her in a very real sense. Love is love and it's something I just can not fake. She feels the same. I have friends who know my RL gender. I finally tell her believing it is best she hear it from me rather than someone else. There were a few other reasons, but that is the gist of it.

At first she doesn't believe me. Once I convince her, she accepts it to my complete surprise and to her credit. She was still hurt nonetheless. I should have told her A LOT sooner. I OWED her that much simply because of the love and respect I had for her as a person. We even partnered after that. We lasted for about a month. That is when I decided I couldn't play a male avie anymore and risk hurting someone else down the road. She agrees with my decision. It was this decision that caused the rift between us. My decision to stop being someone I was not is what eventually ended us.

It's not her fault though. She go sucked into things she should have never had to deal with. I lied to her for too long. She didn't trust my motives and reasons for wanting to play my main again. Really, can I blame her? She isn't even on my friend's list anymore. I am a heterosexual female in RL, but I loved her all the same. I always will, even if it is not in the "I want you sexually and in all ways in RL way." I think when a lot of people find out the avie they are with is not the gender they present, they feel that not only is the gender fake, but so must be the feelings you claim to have. That is so far from being the true, but who can blame them for feeling that way? It's human nature.

My advice to you is to live your SL and be true to your avie. If you play a man, be the best man you can be. If you play a woman, be the best woman you can be. As soon as the emotions become real, even if the relationships is strictly SL, please consider laying the cards out there, or at the very least ask the other if they would care what your RL gender was/is. If you are dishonest about one thing, they will believe you are dishonest about it all. On the flip side, If someone outs their RL gender to you (different than what you perceive it to be), and you love them, then continue to love them. Love is love. Physicality means diddly here. We are just souls and avatars. Live the fantasy. Live your Second Life.

Sometimes you can hurt someone you care about deeply even if you do not intend to.
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Old 03-03-2011, 07:30 AM   #84 (permalink)
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Since I'm not interested in building relationships that go into RL, my reply to the question, "What gender are you in RL?", has always been: "What do YOU think I am?". Always they've answered: "Why, female of course."
And I've almost never used voice, so their impression has always been just based on my appearance and my writing.
The last person I spoke with about gender and gender-role expectations and gender-bending and transgender (which I think is really a very interesting topic, my yet-to-be-published youth novel revolves entirely about it), and whom I asked back the same question, answered in a very nice and diplomatic manner that I would presumably give others no reason to even question my gender.

Nonetheless I want to share my thoughts on that topic, which I already wrote on the new Blogorum:
>> Is it normal to role play a different sex and is it rude not to tell people when you are? <<
Yes it is quite normal, and no it isn't rude. At least I don't care: unless for RL intimacy reasons, why would you want to know their RL gender anyways? The character of the person behind the avatar is what counts most, not their look or age or gender or how many X or Y chromosomes they have.
Plus, it's not others to decide that you "have to" disclose your RL gender anyways. It's entirely up to you what you tell about your RL. If YOU wish to disclose your RL gender or other info about your RL, feel free to disclose it, but if you rather wish to keep it your secret, keep it your secret - and don't listen to those who want to force you.
RL=RL, SL=SL. It's entirely YOUR own decision if and what you share about each life in the other one.
But yes, I agree: If you wish to move your SL relationship (whether it's just deep friendship, or for intimacy reasons) into RL, there comes a moment when it's important to admit which gender you have or express to have in RL. And I admit that in such a case it's always better telling the truth asap than when the relationship is in a stage when you would break hearts doing so.
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