For a good amount of my life, I always thought that I was a boy. But even as a kid, I always knew deep down that it just didn’t feel right. I always found myself fitting in more with groups of girls, and didn’t really act like most boys, either. I sometimes had the thought of wishing I was a girl, but never seriously considered it. However, at the time, I had no idea that it was possible to be a gender that was different from the sex you were born as—that being transgender was something that existed. I still didn’t usually conform to gender roles, though. For example, one Christmas the toy I wanted the most was a big Littlest Pet Shop play set because of how cute it was.
However, since I was young (relatively speaking; I’m still in my late teens), I was always a huge fan of video games. And, rather often, I found myself picking girl characters whenever I could, like in Pokémon and similar games. Even in games like Half-Life 2: Deathmatch, I still picked one of the girl characters! At the time, though, I didn’t think it had to do with much, but I always tended to identify with my girl characters more than with the boy characters. But no video game made the discovery of my true identity more than Second Life, a social-oriented virtual world where almost all content is created by its users.
This is my story.
What really got me into it was when I discovered the current generation of My Little Pony. While I won’t explain the show in detail here, I’ll say that the main cast is made up entirely of women, with girls being the majority of the show’s characters, too. But what really attracted me to it was how well ponies in the main town of Ponyville got along with each other. It seemed like it was rather easy to make friends in the fictional town, which was really attractive to me, since in real life, I’m very shy and awkward and have a lot of trouble making friends. Ever since I watched the first episode, I wished almost every day that I could live in that wonderful fictional town.
That’s when I discovered Second Life. I had made an account a few months earlier, but abandoned it shortly after because I didn’t really understand it. However, when I found out that one of my Steam friends who was a fan of MLP also happened to be an admin of an MLP region in Second Life, I was instantly interested in it again. I reached out to them and they helped me get started, helping me set up my first pony avatar and get a feel for navigating the virtual world.
After that, I realized that Second Life wasn’t about just playing games. It was a huge social hub with so many different kinds of people who would like nothing more than to make friends. I decided that I would start making friends, though with how shy I was, it took a good while to bring myself to interact with people. Eventually, though, I was able to make a few friends. I still considered myself to be a boy at the time, and my avatar reflected that. But after a while, when I was roleplaying with a friend on SL, I wondered what my pony would look like as a girl, and began throwing it together on the pony base avatar.
It didn’t take me too long to find myself relating with this new look more than my old one, and I decided that I would stay that way since I found it more comfortable. And while I may not have realized it at first, this was one of the most important steps in discovering my true identity. As I made new friends in this form, people pretty much never questioned if I was actually a girl, and I tended to tell only my closest friends about my gender in real life. After a while, I found myself liking it a lot more than being a boy on there. The friends I had made on SL before becoming a girl had no problems with changing the pronouns they used, and I really felt like I belonged.
I later made a human girl avatar, which I use in any region that’s not related to ponies. I found myself using it a lot more than I expected, because I found myself possibly identifying with it more than with my pony avatar. I soon started wishing I was able to look like that avatar, and by that point, I had fully realized my true gender identity. I really was a girl. I’ve been so all of my life—I just didn’t know it. And thanks to Second Life, I can be a girl easily without any of the troubles that would normally accompany being transgender in real life. And (plot twist!) when I come out in real life, I’ll definitely be better prepared than I was before I joined Second Life.
Today, the MLP community on Second Life is much smaller than it was when I joined, and things have changed so much. But there’s still a lot of very friendly people on there, and while I don’t log on nearly as often as I used to, I can still say that I really enjoy spending time on there. This is just my own personal experience, but I can say that Second Life can be a very useful game for people struggling with their gender identity, who can have a safe environment where they can easily experiment with their appearance, form, and identity.
I hope you found this article useful, and thank you for reading! If you have any questions about Second Life or this article, or are thinking about joining SL yourself, head to my Google+ profile and send me a message! I’d be happy to help!