Another (very) long time between updates.
What I am going to say now is something that I have been deliberating about for many months. Every year, since 2009, March 31 is a completely non-official holiday called International Transgender Day of Visibility. My telling you that will very likely tell you where this post is going: It is to tell you that I am transgender. The last two years or so of my life has been dominated by a social and medical transition from male to female. I tend to think of it has having hit a giant reset button on my whole life, with almost no area of my life left untouched and many profoundly changed.
With my life in so much turmoil, I sought quiet where it could be found, one consequence of which was that Simmons Games was put on hiatus, until I had a chance to figure out whether to continue with it, and if so, in what form. At this time, I'm afraid that I still don't really know, as much as I wish I could say otherwise.
Why, then, communicate now? And why begin by disclosing such a personal item of information? The reason is that transgender people are in a struggle for basic social rights, and as a transgender woman, I need to do what I can to help, and helping begins with visibility. As long as we, as transgender individuals, hide ourselves, we play into the hands of those who dislike us and seek to spread fear of us. It leaves their negative and hostile image of us as the only image of ourselves that the general population sees. The whole point of the Transgender Day of Visibility is to combat that image by presenting ourselves as we are.
I will not be turning a game design blog into a forum on transgender issues, and so I am going to keep it short. At some point, I may post a longer essay on the subject and on my life, but if I do so there will be no more than a link to it here. For now, just a few more things:
(1) First, my name is not legally Bowen any more, but I will be retaining it as a professional name in the game world. It is what I am known by, and it has acquired a lot of “brand” value that I wish to retain. Calling me Bowen in public game forums and professional correspondence is completely ok. Female pronouns (she/her rather than he/him) should be used, but many people will still use male pronouns because they don't know about any of this, and I will not be attempting to police public pronoun usage, nor will I expect anyone else to. FYI, my legal name is Rachel, but please don't change my profile on BoardGameGeek or any other professional context to use that name rather than Bowen. If you want to call me Rachel in private correspondence, that's fine.
(2) One reason I am comfortable being brief here is that much of what I would say on coming out as transgender and what it means to live as a transgender woman prior to coming out has already been said by Lana Wachowski, co-creator of The Matrix, in her acceptance speech for the HRC Visibility Award. It was an excellent speech, and if you want, you can see it here on YouTube.
(3) This is me. Finally.