I’m a transwoman using voice-changing software in game, and I don’t owe you a fucking explanation, but you are getting one because I’m nice

Anne EliseNews

“Oh baby, it’s too late for that! Faggots been breeding your cows, raising your chickens, even brewing your beer, long before I walked my sexy ass up in this mother fucker…”

Lafayette, True Blood, Season 1

I love that so much! It’s a pity that show goes downhill so fast, but I remember the first time I saw that scene, leaping off of my couch and cheering so loud that my upstairs neighbor pounded on the floor to tell me to pipe down. It ends with Lafayette, a black, gay man, punching out three rednecks and telling them to “Tip your waitress.” It reminded me of a lesson most LGBTQ people often need to be reminded of: we don’t owe anyone an apology. We don’t owe anyone an explanation.

But I’m going to explain.

When voice chat was announced, FerociouslySteph (neé Oddish) went on a crusade to get Blizzard to reconsider. This was well-documented and had a lot of people having a lot to say about the pros and cons of voice chat, but it was, again, another queer person having to explain to a non-queer world, the daily terror that you can face. The crusade faced a lot of opposition, and in the end, voice chat launched with very little change.

So far, it’s been okay. Most of the Heroes community has been fine and welcoming. That said, it’s not all sunshine and roses.

On March 7th, a player who had a silence penalty on him was still allowed to use voice chat and lit into everyone who was listening. Why would a silenced player be allowed to use the voice? I’m still waiting for Blizzard to respond to my tweet about it:

Now, Blizzard does not owe me an explanation; they are busy people, but that is reasonable question which deserves a reasonable answer.

In another match, I had to mute a player who wouldn’t stop trying to “turn me on,” telling me how much I would “like it.” It’s possible that he could have had useful information to pass along to me during the game, but now I can’t hear it because he’s being an asshole.

Now, these are really the only two instances of bad players in voice that I have dealt with since arriving and until yesterday, I was not using a microphone to play online games. And that is where I want to explain some things to all of you.

I am a 40 year old transwoman living in a state that has no legal protections from being fired for being trans. I know, for a near certainty, that two of my three jobs would shit-can me faster than you can blink if I were to come out. I have known I was trans since before I knew there was a word for it, but as a rather perceptive child, I also knew how deep I had to hide that from everyone in my small, closed-minded, religious, mid-Michigan town because, even at the age of 7, I knew that this would only make things worse for me.

The internet has been a lifesaver for me and for lots of LGBTQ people. We can find communities of support. We can find others like us. We can find allies. We can find our true homes and our true families, but only to a point. If you deviate too far from normal, people do not treat you well, and for as “accepting” of LGBTQ people as we claim to be as a society, it’s really only the L and G people even acknowledge.

In my World of Warcraft days, I stayed off of voice, not using a microphone to raid because 1) as a raid healer, I cuss like you wouldn’t believe when I’m healing hunters that can’t get out of the fire1 (maybe you would believe it if you read my Twitter), and 2) because cis members of my LGBTQ guild were openly antagonistic towards transpeople. This included gay men and straight men who were in the guild. It was easier to stay silent and pretend to be a cis woman in a relationship with another woman, than it was to come out fully to this group.

But that could never be home. As long as I could not feel the ability to be open and honest with these people, I would always have to code my talk so as not to reveal certain facts about myself. It was okay, and for a time, it was even great, but it didn’t last. The culture of the guild changed, and soon, I found that it was not a place I could bear to be.

Two months after that, I started playing Heroes of the Storm in January of 2016. I had watched the hero trailers, gone back and watched the videos of Cloud9 winning from BlizzCon 2015 on YouTube, and, when the crowd exploded at the drafting of Murky, I knew this game had something for me. There was no pressure to use voice. There were a lot of accepting people who were nice and welcoming. I didn’t have to explain myself.

Then I found Faye.

I cannot properly explain to you why Faye is such an important person to me, a person whom I have never met, who began her transition in front of all of us, at LAN events, and who had a complete “Fuck you” attitude to transphobic comments. Occasionally, on her stream, someone whom Faye had just pubstomped in Hero League would invade her chat, call her “subhuman” and other insulting things, and she’d laugh a little, smile, and call them a “tranny-chaser” before banning them and moving on with her life. Faye has a somewhat humorous take on herself. When you type “!gender” in her chat on Twitch, Nightbot responds with “Faye identifies as an adorable nydus worm.”

Perhaps my favorite memory of Faye was when one of her teams was playing a qualifier (I forget which one it was, sorry), Dreadnaught was casting the qualifier on his stream, and Twitch chat became very toxic and transphobic. Seeing the chat, Dread told the viewers that he would not put up with people talking about Faye like that, people were banned. A straight, cis, Wyoming-as-hell boy would not tolerate people hurling abuse at a transwoman, even though she probably would have shrugged it off if she had seen or heard it.

I knew this was home.

I wanted to stay off voice chat entirely. I was content to just listen, except that I’m in the lower leagues (Bronze and Silver), and I have a lot of knowledge about this game that cannot be easily typed out. If I want to climb, I need to help my team. And I need them to focus on what I say. That means, my voice has to match my name. So, after ordering my first microphone headset, I tested out lots of voice changing software, and yesterday I had a mostly positive experience in unranked draft, shotcalling and getting wins. I’m 17-11 this season in unranked, and I’m getting ready to enter Hero League.

Yesterday, my wife, who is the most amazing woman in the world, sat down on Skype with me to help me calibrate my voice. This week, I’m appearing on two podcasts - a long-time dream of mine - but one that would not be possible without for this software. If I were to be found out (as remote of a possibility as that is), I would be fired from two of my three jobs. I’m really thankful that both Trolls.gg and Darkmoon Herald think well enough of the bullshit I have to say that they want to have me on their shows. I’m truly honored.

This has been a bit of a rambling article. It’s all over the place. As we are still a growing community, please remember that not everyone fits into the neat little boxes that society told us we would fit into when we were younger. The ability to have my voice match my name, which more closely resembles how I hear myself in my head, has made me feel so much better over the past couple of days. I’m really looking forward to tonight.

Don’t worry. I’ll get off of this mushy shit and get back to HGC “analysis.” I just thought this might be nice.


1I actually had a macro for this I would use in WoW: “YOU FUCKING ASSTARD! GET THE FUCK OUT OF THE FUCKING FIRE BEFORE I FUCKING MURDER YOU FOR THE CRIME OF BEING FUCKING STUPID!” Because I was a raid leader, I could spam this as a yell or a raid warning. It was crude, but it worked.

I also had a Raid Rules spam: /rw RAID RULES!
/rw 1) Don't call people out. That's my job. There is only room for one bitch in raid. The position is filled.
/rw 2) Loot is master so nothing gets wasted.
/rw 3) Sexist, homophobic, or other harassing behavior will get you kicked.