Table chatter

Okay, hear me out. Both Yu-Gi-Oh! and Queen's Gambit are actually television shows from the same genre. I call it "tabletop melodrama."

The relevant difference, for me, isn't that one is a shonen anime for children and the other is a live-action mainstream Netflix show for relatively cultured adults, but simply the amount of chatter that happens when a game is being played on-screen. It is rude to speak during a competitive chess game in Queen's Gambit, but what would Yu-Gi-Oh! be like if, instead of the characters comically overexplaining everything that happens when they play a card, they keep to the relatively minimal, efficient chatter that actually occurs during a competitive trading card game match? Cards hit and leave the table in an orderly but no-nonsense manner. Combos are executed just as the viewer starts to have some idea of what's going on. Esoteric mentions are made to a meta game that the casual viewer can't understand. Victory and defeat occur suddenly with no dramatic buildup.

“I draw; set a monster; okay, you go.”

“Drawing, oh, okay, summoning Cyber-Stein, minus 5000 LP, summoning Blues-Eyes Ultimate, equipping it with Megamorph and Fairy Meteor Crush, and...”

“Oh, so that's game.”

“Yeah, game.”

“Can't believe I was actually beaten by a 13 year old girl piloting Blue-Eyes OTK. You're such a genius.”

“Now that we're done here, I'm going to go pop some tranquilizers and reminisce about my deceased mother.”

I'd watch it.

An objective point of comparison

An unexpected bonus of transitioning during the pandemic (having started hormones just weeks before lockdown) is that it gives me a clear benchmark for explaining to cis people how depressed I was pre-transition.

For most people, 2020 was a bad year. The worst year, some would say. Life under lockdown has been depressing for many of us. Not for me. This was positively the best year of my life. Living post-transition, even during a pandemic, even during the Trump presidency, even as an overworked grad student, was better than living pre-transition during any other year of my life for at least the last 15 years, regardless of school, occupation, or current events. In other words, living as a man is had been objectively worse for me than living during COVID.

If you want to understand why it is so important that people are given as much freedom to transition as possible – at any age, by any means, medical and otherwise– then imagine how you would feel if you had to live through the current pandemic between the ages of 13 and 26. The entirety of your teenage and early adult life under lockdown. Don't you think we should take any effort to spare people from that hardship rather than continue to make it more difficult for people to transition?

This is why, among the other terrifying restrictions placed upon transitioning in the UK, the recent decision requiring trans kids to receive a court order in order to take puberty blockers is appalling. My heart breaks especially for those kids who have already been on blockers and are now being forced off of them, forced to undergo the wrong puberty. These sorts of gatekeeping policies don't protect kids and adults from making decisions that they'll regret – rather, these policies drive many of us to kill ourselves. No person should require the permission of a court or psychologist to make the decisions that they know are best for them and their body. There is nothing "common-sense" about making the process by which people medically, legally, and socially transition "more robust" or "stringent." It just causes hurt.

Do I actually know any men?

Speaking of transitioning in the UK, Abigail Thorn came out as a trans woman yesterday (congrats!). The funniest thing about it, though, is that Lisa and I had both called it the day before. “There's no way PhilosophyTube is actually a guy,” we had concluded. While I'm happy for Abigail, I must also admit it was immensely satisfying to have been proven right.

Once I came out to myself and had a better understanding of the so-called “signs that I was trans all along,” it's become hard for me (and others that I know) to not evaluate all of the people you know and guess whether or not they are an egg (someone who's trans but hasn't “cracked” yet). While a number of my allegedly male friends have given me eggy vibes, I try not to take those hunches too seriously. “You know, maybe some cis men actually are really nice people who are invested in yuri ships and express indifference about their masculinity! What do I know?”

That's changed with Abigail Thorn. It's the first time that one of my guesses has been confirmed, and I'm now feeling emboldened to call the rest of them. I've gone through the list of every man I am personally friends with (excluding family and colleagues), and, at tops, only three of you are cis. The vast majority of you, it turns out, are not actually men. How the hell did you think we got along so well? I am delighted to share this news with you all.

I'm only half joking. A lot of you probably have some introspection to do.

This week's free game recommendation is Brianna Lei's Butterfly Soup: the visual novel about Asian-American lesbians on a high school baseball team. It's a delightful, well-written, and genuinely funny story that is well-deserving of the hype it's garnered.