Someone wrote in [community profile] tf_talk 2015-04-10 06:56 am (UTC)

Amy Player Deleted Apology, Part 1

***Note: Formatting may be fucked as this was retrieved from a sporking.***

You have known me as Amy Player, as Strwriter, as Voyagerbabe, VB, Victoria Bitter, Mr. Frodo, and Jordan Wood.

I am NOT re-entering fandom by making this statement, and I want it known from the very beginning that I am doing so completely alone. No one knows I'm going to make this post, and I am probably going to catch a lot of hell from people who have told me that I should just move on
with my life and not poke the crazy online people.

However, I can't do that. It is basic ethics that when you have wronged someone, you cannot move on without apologizing, and I have wronged a lot of people.

What I am doing here is not a plea for sympathy, nor an excuse, nor any attempt to weasel my way out of anything. I am 23 now, an adult, and I need to take an adult's responsibilities for the actions of my teen years,
and for the ramifications they have had.

Not only that, but I don't believe that you are all just crazy people. I was one of you once, and I know that there are many very decent individuals among you who know nothing other than that you were lied to and used,
and you deserve to at least hear the other side of the story, both so that you can make your own judgments as rational people, and so that you can stop worrying that somewhere, out there, the next post in your favorite fandom might be VB, poised to strike again.

For the record, I have in fact moved on with my life, and have spent the last several years trying to make amends of it. I have gotten a lot of therapy, and what I am writing here is the product of a huge amount of self-exploration and difficult self-confrontation, as well as professional help and guidance.

I have re-connected with my family, moved away from Hollywood, have and intend to have in the future no contact with any fandom of any kind, re-discovered God,
changed my name, come to terms with myself as a transgender man, and am now seeking both gender reassignment surgery, normal employment, and a normal, healthy life.

As previously stated, this confession/setting things straight is part of that. I first came to online fandom shortly after puberty, under the name of Strwriter. I was a passionate Star Trek fan, and the idea that I might be
transgender had not yet even vaguely occurred to me.

What I did know was that I was unusually intelligent,
and that none of the other girls particularly liked me (I did not have any real co-ed opportunities, so all I knew of boys was from books and movies) and that I desperately longed to be accepted. I knew that on the internet people could have all kinds of different identities and be whomever they wanted to be, but I didn't understand much beyond that, and both through age (13) and the kind of blindness only the naively intelligent are capable, I didn't really care. What I knew is that I could type anything to anyone and they would like me.

This started getting out of hand beyond the usual teenage online self-role-playing when I discovered an entire new world on the internet...sex.

I was aware of the mechanics of it, previously, and that it was something that was very nice for married people to do, and terribly sinful and bad for unmarried people,
but there had never been any remote appeal to anything about it before. I had been warned that pretty soon, I would be wanting it with boys, but I dismissed that as utterly ridiculous.

It stopped becoming ridiculous as soon as I started discovering increasingly explicit fanfiction. However, it was a discovery far more upsetting to me than simply "oh, THAT'S what all the fuss is about." To my horror, I realized that I was a horribly perverted person. I was thinking about it all the time, but in badbadbad ways.

What I know now is that I was thinking about it from the male perspective, with an almost preternatural instinct to the male half of things, but at the time, I just knew that like so many things about me before, it wasn't SAME. I became fascinated and obsessed with boys, true, but not the way I was 'supposed' to be. I was tremendously covetous. I wanted to know everything about men's bodies and men having sex in the way that anyone obsesses about something they desperately and unobtainably desire to possess, and simultaneously, I was hungry for information about the women's side of things, hoping to find somewhere in all these women expressing their sexuality whatever it was I was missing. And always, always the hunger for acceptance. For someone to tell me - preferably many someones - that I was wonderful, perfect, fabulous, talented, etc. to counteract the constant sick feeling that something unknown was hideously wrong with me.

Of course, all of the groups that held adult fanfiction were off-limits to a 14 and later 15 and 16 year-old, but that was okay.

I needed in desperately, I rationalized, so I'd just make another identity. In retrospect, the choices I made there were psychologically pretty transparent.

I created an identity who was horribly scarred, sick, messed up, and dirty, with a terrible, sexually deviant past...but it wasn't her fault, of course.

Thus, I thought, I could explore as much as I needed to, and no one would hate me for being so hungrily curious about THAT, nor be shocked and hate me if I let slip any clues how messed up I was about it. Of course, I tried not to let that show, faithfully parroting the other women both in conversations and in fic, so that hopefully I could just find out what was wrong with me and how to fix it without them knowing.

Yes, I took it too far...WAY too far, including visits in person and telephone conversations behind my parent's back. But at the time, it seemed justified. After all, I couldn't let anyone know how bad I really was, nor could I stop what seemed my only hope for finding a way to fix it, as it was the only thing in my life that addressed sexuality at all.

Looking back at some of the stories I was writing then, I find it almost tragically laughable – there is remarkably good writing interspaced with saccharine pap cut and pasted straight out of the cliche generator. You can almost sort it sentence by sentence into "VB writing" and "VB Fitting In".

Then, at 16, I found slash. I had been in entirely het groups previously, who were very scornful of slash, and had simply dismissed it as BAD, but then I stumbled across my first one by accident, as it was unmarked. Like the old children's game of hot and cold, I practically heard my psyche whisper "warmer!"

The concept of homosexuality was even vaguer to me than that of sex had been. I knew it was men who did sinful sex things with other men, or women who did sinful sex things with other women, and that it was a lifestyle choice that they made. But here COMMA! for the first time, were stories about people wrestling with "I'm different, it's my shameful secret, it's about sex and gender, and I'm compelled to lead a double life to hide it."

All remaining vestiges of moral restraint went flying out the window, as I had to get into the slash community. Surely IT was there.

This was closer than anything I'd yet found. But it had to be hidden even more carefully, so the lies grew thicker and faster, and I got better at them, discovering refinements such as "if you're an American, you're a smarty-pants, if you're British, you're just cool" at blending just enough truth into my fictions, and playing different stories to different people.

The good news of this phase was that it opened me up for the first time to the amazing discovery that God created more variety among humanity than Heterosexual Male and Heterosexual Female, and that there were people out there who were tolerant of that.

It also, however, messed me up in a lot of ways.

Already socially awkward, I became flat out incompetent off the internet.

Already having serious problems with out of control behavior from the hormones of puberty (estrogen and I DO NOT MIX) I was further driven to
half-psychosis both by the stress of maintaining these webs and by the lack of sleep from regularly spending entire nights on the internet with my
new-found hope and curse.

Already having serious problems with the truth (never easy for someone who is lied to every day by their own body, as I've found out) lying was becoming more second nature than telling the truth as I tried to keep the increasingly growing spider's web out of my offline life.

I also at that time started to hate and resent my parents, my upbringing, and my religion with a desperate fervor. THESE people were far closer to understanding what I was, and the slashed characters were far closer to BEING what I was (ironically, I identified far more fully with the most well-written male slash characters than I ever had with female characters) than anyone around me, and they all hated and feared their families, the real world, and the Christian Church. Lessons learned and internalized with the uniquely stupid fervor of the very young.

Sadly for me, most people who are that phenomenally messed up at such a young age and with so little experience are usually sniffed out and helped for what they are very quickly. I was a little too good for my own good,
and although occasionally people caught me as a liar, no one ever saw past all the facades that were hiding THE BIG SECRET... that I still didn't even know the answer to.

At 17, I entered college, my first experience simultaneously with formalized education, with a full, co-ed social structure, and with living away from home...while leading a quintuple life online,
still struggling with my unknown terrible thing, clinically deranged to the point of paranoid episodes once a month, and with a psychotic, obsessive need to make people like me.

Oh, and I was abruptly adopted as the pet of an egotistical manic-depressive failed artiste with delusions of grandeur who was simultaneously the most loved and hated professor in the theater department, and by the most bohemian inner core of theater people, including trying to have a boyfriend with a semi-gothic Australian.

Yeah, that's right, I was in theater on top of it, having never been in any actual production since a summer-camp-type thing at the age of 10. If I had ever wondered what it must have been like watching the Hindenburg, ring-side seats to my mental health that year must have been pretty close.

The lying reached nuclear levels, and I was starting to lose touch with reality and begin facing an actual nervous collapse, when "salvation" came to me. Oh, Jesus Christ, if I could undo ONE mistake...

No one is probably going to believe me, but I can't even remember her name, though her face is as clear in my memory as if she were sitting next to me. She was the Priestess, and she had all the answers.

Yes, the Christian Church, my parents, and their narrow thinking were the problem. Yes, there was something different about me, but no, I wasn't messed up. Yes, I felt oddly divorced from my body, and increasingly from reality.

Yes, I had serious problems at this point being ABLE to tell the truth, because everything I said might endanger another lie and make someone not like me and/or find out. Yes, I felt terribly alone. But all this wasn't because something was wrong with me, it was because I was special, wonderful, gifted, a miracle, even.

I was a Paladin, she told me, a spiritual and psychic warrior capable of channeling the spirits of others... ghosts, demons, the living, the dead, even the
non-human. The Church would never accept me, but The Goddess knew what I really was and loved me, and the Priestess would help me love and understand myself as a rare lesbian Paladin.

The reason I felt divorced from my body is that I could separate from it to allow the souls of others...it's also why I felt so connected to the male characters from my writings, because male spirits regularly flowed through me because my lesbian energies were very compatible to them.

Already near my wit's end, I swallowed it, hook, line, and pentacle. It was the closest thing I'd ever had to an answer, and most tellingly, I thought, she had approached ME with it, telling ME my darkest shames and where they had come from.

At the time, it seemed an unquestionable miracle. Now, I see that I was flying psychological flags and signs miles high to anyone who knew how to read them.

All of this, of course, had to be carefully guarded against anyone who was Closed Minded, but the pagans have had to keep their secrets for millennia, so that seemed okay. I got drawn in deeper and deeper without even realizing it, and in hindsight, I honestly can't say how I managed to start believing that faeries and gnomes and dark wizards and all these non-human creatures straight out of Dungeons and Dragons were real...and talking to her through me. But I did. Profoundly.

By the time Lord of the Rings came out in winter of 2001, I had all but completely dropped out of the real world, existing only for my online web and my life as a Paladin.

I was spending weeks alone in my apartment, skipping classes, ignoring friends and family. My Priestess had told me that it was yet another example of how The Sacred has to be slipped in to the truth of the ages in a way unbelievers can handle, but that Tolkien wasn't just making a metauniversal statement. Nae, the Red Book of Westmarch was more real than the Christian Bible, being a single faded volume found by the Professor and painstakingly translated to prove the truth of a history lost to the brutal censorial axes of the post-Constantine Romans.

I was such a strong Paladin, in fact, that I could probably call forth a vision of the finding...
and, of course, I did, which proved it. But you know what? I can now say that I can tell every one of you to call forth a vision of Mickey Mouse beating
an elephant with a bunch of carrots, and you all will. It's the human imagination. A miracle in itself, yes, but...

Well, anyway. I was still keeping those lives mostly separate, and I got into Lord of the Rings fandom surprisingly separate from my increasingly bizarre spiritual journey through same. I was already active in
Sharpe fandom, Sean Bean was in Lord of the Rings...and when I followed the line, I found an enormously active slash fandom. In I went, discovering
that here was a place where my intensive immersion recently into fantasy thinking served my pen even more praise than my experience with 18th
century living history had served me in Hornblower!

The formation of BitofEarth the mailing list and website went exactly as it appeared...honestly, the best records of that are to be found on the list itself. All the shenannigans with me were happening on chats, my livejournal, and emails having nothing to do with BoE yet, and everything to do with what they always had: PLEASE VALIDATE ME!

Spring of 2002, I had what I now consider the beginning of my legal separation from reality. It's okay, we've had counseling now, and the relationship has been repaired, but 2002-03 were really close to the brink of divorce, and it began in March.

I had been recently informed by my Priestess that a halfling spirit from the past would soon contact me, that he was trapped in a terrible darkness, and that only I could save him.

I was already close friends with Orangeblossom, (though I am going to leave her out of this statement as much as possible, as I AM doing this alone and am not going to speak for her) and what happened next is already a matter of public record, and, fairly perhaps, ridicule. Yes, I did believe that I was channeling Merry, and then others. I believed it completely, and letting my desperate ego hide my low self-esteem, I believed it all the more because I didn't think I was good enough to make up anything as compelling as it became.

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