Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Hello all,

I'm Nikki Valens, a game designer. I've been working on an expansion for the game Fog of Love that has a specific focus on experiences relating to sexuality, gender identity, and the journey of self-discovery.

One story in this expansion focuses on gender identity specifically and tells the tale of a couple, one of whom realizes they are not the gender they were assigned at birth. The story revolves around that character's transition and how the transition affects the already established relationship the two share.

Near the end of the story, I want to touch on gender-affirming surgeries. Noting that not all trans folx choose to have surgery, the surgery related card or cards will not be mandatory. I have some ideas about what types of stories I could tell regarding surgery specifically, but I wanted to hear some experiences from others.


Some thoughts I've considered so far:
- Discussing with your partner what surgeries you would want
- Discussing why you would want surgery
- A dramatic event in which your partner might not want you to have surgery
- The moments before the procedure begins
- Waking up after the surgery

Many of these are quite vague since the type of surgery isn't specified and the character's gender identity might be male, female, or non-binary.


Keeping in mind that this is a story about a relationship, please tell me what kinds of specific scenes you'd like to have relating to gender-affirming surgery (whether discussion, leading up to, afterward, during, anything). Are there any details or nuances you'd like these scene to shed light on? If you'd prefer to not say publicly, feel free to private message me.
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've also shared a link to this thread on Twitter. If you'd prefer to comment or DM there or share, please feel free.

3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Aaron
United States
Pittsburgh
Pennsylvania
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I’m forwarding this thread to a friend who is in a relationship with a transman, but I wanted to say that I respect you so much not only for being a phenomenal game designer but also for incorporating LGBTQ themes and bringing visibility to LGBTQ gamers through your position in the industry.

Side note, I just ordered Arkham 3rd and I can’t wait to play it!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Vantries
United States
Woodbury
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmb
So I have not played FoL, so I don't know how the game plays/flows or the scale or anything so maybe these would have no bearing on the game but they are a couple real-world issues regarding surgeries:
- It can cost a pretty significant amount of money.
- It can require a lot of time off from work.

Also, regarding the trans person's partner not wanting them to get surgery:
I feel like that would be an almost impossible hurdle to get through and survive as a couple.
If the person is not ok with their partner getting surgery, it's a pretty clear sign that it's because they don't actually see their partner as their actual gender. And so either the trans person doesn't get surgery and resents their partner for however much longer the relationship lasts or they do get surgery despite their partner's protestations and the cis partner resents the trans partner and possibly they are no longer physically attracted to them.
Although this is kinda more an issue related to coming out as trans in general, not really regarding the surgery stuff though.
Like, I can't really see how the relationship could survive the initial coming out but then specifically surgery pushing the cis person over the edge (unless they never really accepted the partner when they first came out and only said that they did.)
And so I think once it gets to the issue of surgery/ies, by that point it's more about practical concerns, rather than coping with the concept.
7 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Désirée Greverud
Sweden
Stockholm
flag msg tools
Keeper of the Sacred Aardvark
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
one thing that popular culture/media always seem to get wrong is the idea that a person comes out as trans, gets surgery and then suddenly appears as as the opposite gender to everyone.

Reality is that for a person following the Standards of Care, surgery doesn't come for at least 2 years during which the person lives, works and presents as the chosen gender. Surgery is the last step (maybe) in a long process, not something that is just done on a whim and suddenly without everyone in the person's life already knowing.
10 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
alkaline2k2 wrote:
I’m forwarding this thread to a friend who is in a relationship with a transman, but I wanted to say that I respect you so much not only for being a phenomenal game designer but also for incorporating LGBTQ themes and bringing visibility to LGBTQ gamers through your position in the industry.

Side note, I just ordered Arkham 3rd and I can’t wait to play it!

Thank you, and thank you! I never really expected to be in the position that I am and I plan to do everything I can to make the world a better place.

DragonsDream wrote:
one thing that popular culture/media always seem to get wrong is the idea that a person comes out as trans, gets surgery and then suddenly appears as as the opposite gender to everyone.

Reality is that for a person following the Standards of Care, surgery doesn't come for at least 2 years during which the person lives, works and presents as the chosen gender. Surgery is the last step (maybe) in a long process, not something that is just done on a whim and suddenly without everyone in the person's life already knowing.

A very good point. The story does include many hurdles the character must face alongside the benefits of the transition (such as discrimination and being publicly misgendered). I'm also presenting it in such a way that is not strictly binary. Surgery is not the final outcome (or the final step) for many trans folx, and I want to make sure the story can reflect that in any case. Thanks for your comment!
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Burnham wrote:
So I have not played FoL, so I don't know how the game plays/flows or the scale or anything so maybe these would have no bearing on the game but they are a couple real-world issues regarding surgeries:
- It can cost a pretty significant amount of money.
- It can require a lot of time off from work.

Also, regarding the trans person's partner not wanting them to get surgery:
I feel like that would be an almost impossible hurdle to get through and survive as a couple.
If the person is not ok with their partner getting surgery, it's a pretty clear sign that it's because they don't actually see their partner as their actual gender. And so either the trans person doesn't get surgery and resents their partner for however much longer the relationship lasts or they do get surgery despite their partner's protestations and the cis partner resents the trans partner and possibly they are no longer physically attracted to them.
Although this is kinda more an issue related to coming out as trans in general, not really regarding the surgery stuff though.
Like, I can't really see how the relationship could survive the initial coming out but then specifically surgery pushing the cis person over the edge (unless they never really accepted the partner when they first came out and only said that they did.)
And so I think once it gets to the issue of surgery/ies, by that point it's more about practical concerns, rather than coping with the concept.

You are not wrong. It would be and is a very damage event in a relationship. It happened to me, and that relationship did not last long after. Thank you for your contribution!


Btw, I love your avatar. Hoping Blizzard gives us some more canon queer and trans folx soon.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I've gotten some great replies privately. I think I've figured out the direction I want to go. But feel free to still share your stories. Even if this expansion doesn't reflect them, it will be inspiration for my work in the future.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Siobhan Beeman
United States
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Burnham wrote:
Also, regarding the trans person's partner not wanting them to get surgery: I feel like that would be an almost impossible hurdle to get through and survive as a couple.

Yeah.
Burnham wrote:
(unless they never really accepted the partner when they first came out and only said that they did.)

Yeah. soblue

I haven't played FoL (coincidentally just ordered it the day before seeing this thread), so I don't know whether it has a "lose" condition, but if it does this feels like exactly that. Also, I worry whether this puts gender affirmation into the same category as "has an affair" or "gets a great job offer in another city"--things that one partner "does to" another, who must then either "forgive" them or or not. Because that would be... not a great framing.

Basically, I'm eager to see this, but only because it's #ownvoices. If a cis person were trying to write it I would be side-eyeing the whole concept so hard.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
It's far more of a roleplaying game than a strategy game. No part of the game tells you you win or lose. You might fulfill or not fulfill your trait goals which represents being true to yourself. You might stay in the relationship or break up (in this expansion partially based on what the players want from the relationship). You might fulfill your destiny or not which represents having a relationship you consider to be fulfilling versus a relationship that works but isn't ideal in every way it could be.

Fabozz wrote:
Burnham wrote:
Also, regarding the trans person's partner not wanting them to get surgery: I feel like that would be an almost impossible hurdle to get through and survive as a couple.

Yeah.
Burnham wrote:
(unless they never really accepted the partner when they first came out and only said that they did.)

Yeah. soblue

I haven't played FoL (coincidentally just ordered it the day before seeing this thread), so I don't know whether it has a "lose" condition, but if it does this feels like exactly that. Also, I worry whether this puts gender affirmation into the same category as "has an affair" or "gets a great job offer in another city"--things that one partner "does to" another, who must then either "forgive" them or or not. Because that would be... not a great framing.

Basically, I'm eager to see this, but only because it's #ownvoices. If a cis person were trying to write it I would be side-eyeing the whole concept so hard.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jacq L
New Zealand
flag msg tools
What are YOU lookin at?
badge
poof
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
This is a bit of a painful topic for me, so I haven't read the replies carefully, sorry. (Maybe not "painful" so much as "too close to home" lol).

Something that might be worth considering is dealing with something external - there are a lot of hurdles when it comes to medical access and it might be another option/direction.

- finding a trans positive couples counselor (which imo is all but a necessity for this).
- dealing with "trans broken arm syndrome"
- the long process/hurdles involved in accessing medical care, including years-long hoops/requirements put on patients by drs that may not align with what they actually want.
- next of kin / taxation considerations if the place you live doesn't recognize your partnership

Another thing might be the extended family issue. Getting neices/nephews/niblets to "switch" titles, dealing with things like family reunions/weddings/etc.
12 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Jacqland wrote:
This is a bit of a painful topic for me, so I haven't read the replies carefully, sorry. (Maybe not "painful" so much as "too close to home" lol).

Something that might be worth considering is dealing with something external - there are a lot of hurdles when it comes to medical access and it might be another option/direction.

- finding a trans positive couples counselor (which imo is all but a necessity for this).
- dealing with "trans broken arm syndrome"
- the long process/hurdles involved in accessing medical care, including years-long hoops/requirements put on patients by drs that may not align with what they actually want.
- next of kin / taxation considerations if the place you live doesn't recognize your partnership

Another thing might be the extended family issue. Getting neices/nephews/niblets to "switch" titles, dealing with things like family reunions/weddings/etc.


Yikes! I hadn't heard of "trans broken arm syndrome" before, but it absolutely makes sense.

Thank you for sharing.
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Samuel Barbash-Riley
United States
Michigan
flag msg tools
Avatar
Full disclosure, I have not played FoL, just watched the Overboard Let’s Play.

Personally, I think putting a lot of focus on Gender Affirming Surgeries may be a mistake, as some of touched on earlier. I think Hormone Replacement Therapy is more accessible and common and could be a space for a less talked about aspect of some trans folx experiences. Just off the top of my head, hormones can affect emotions, libido, appetite, body hair and odor, weight distribution, and how often one needs to urinate.

Here are some other possible scene topics:
-Choosing a new name, new petnames
-discussing legally changing one’s name/documents
-A discussion of how/if one partner’s evolving gender identity changes how each partner thinks of their sexuality.
-Shopping for/making/wearing a binder/breastforms/packer
-navigating possible anger/jealousy towards cisgender partner for their cis privilege
-Discussing coming out in the workplace, possibly risking losing job.
-You’re out on a date/in public/visiting family, and another person keeps using the wrong pronouns for the partner who is trans. How do you respond?
-Going clothes shopping together.
-Facing anxiety about using the locker room/bathroom/going swimming in a public pool
-Negotiating changes in libido, how you’re comfortable having your body touched, words you want them to use to refer to your body
-If you are going to have a content related to surgery, a big thing for me was a discussion of if my partner at the time was able to be with me while I healed after my top surgery. They are also trans but with less financial privilege, so there was understandable tension there, as they’d been out much longer than me, and they ultimately (and understandably) decided they couldn’t be there for it.

Also, would it be possible to have another story where both people are trans, and one is just beginning to explore their gender identity and the other has been out for a while? This was the case for two relationships I’ve been in.

Hope this helps!
  • [+] Dice rolls
M. B. Downey
United States
Suitland
Maryland
flag msg tools
designer
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
secretbetrayer wrote:
Also, would it be possible to have another story where both people are trans, and one is just beginning to explore their gender identity and the other has been out for a while?


thumbsup
5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Jamie Vantries
United States
Woodbury
Minnesota
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmb
downeymb wrote:
secretbetrayer wrote:
Also, would it be possible to have another story where both people are trans, and one is just beginning to explore their gender identity and the other has been out for a while?


thumbsup

God yes, this!
And PLEASE just trans/trans relationships in general too.
7 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Sophia Lechner
United States
Portland
Oregon
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this effort. The fact that you're here asking these questions makes me feel quite certain that the end result will be better than no representation at all.

My own experience isn't quite applicable to the narrative of FoL, because I didn't have a partner who knew me before I transitioned socially and hormonally. My partner at that time gave it a reasonable try before concluding that, sorry, she really was straight, and that was that.

I do have a partner now who was with me the whole time I planned for, underwent, and recovered from surgery. Not as much drama there as most stories, though; he was very supportive, left the decision in my hands, and was clear he'd stay with me no matter what I decided.

We both continue to be very happy with each other, and with my surgery results. Yay happy endings!

Thank you for including this material in your upcoming project. It means a lot to me to see that represented in a storytelling medium I love so much.
6 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
secretbetrayer wrote:
Personally, I think putting a lot of focus on Gender Affirming Surgeries may be a mistake, as some of touched on earlier.

There won't be "a lot" of focus on surgery, hormones or other specific aspects of transition. The primary focus is the relationship between the two characters and their interactions with their friends, family, and society.

Quote:

Here are some other possible scene topics:
-Choosing a new name, new petnames
-discussing legally changing one’s name/documents
-A discussion of how/if one partner’s evolving gender identity changes how each partner thinks of their sexuality.
-Shopping for/making/wearing a binder/breastforms/packer
-navigating possible anger/jealousy towards cisgender partner for their cis privilege
-Discussing coming out in the workplace, possibly risking losing job.
-You’re out on a date/in public/visiting family, and another person keeps using the wrong pronouns for the partner who is trans. How do you respond?
-Going clothes shopping together.
-Facing anxiety about using the locker room/bathroom/going swimming in a public pool
-Negotiating changes in libido, how you’re comfortable having your body touched, words you want them to use to refer to your body
-If you are going to have a content related to surgery, a big thing for me was a discussion of if my partner at the time was able to be with me while I healed after my top surgery. They are also trans but with less financial privilege, so there was understandable tension there, as they’d been out much longer than me, and they ultimately (and understandably) decided they couldn’t be there for it.

There are scene cards for virtually everything on this list.

Quote:

Also, would it be possible to have another story where both people are trans, and one is just beginning to explore their gender identity and the other has been out for a while? This was the case for two relationships I’ve been in.

The other player can play as any gender they wish. They are not restricted to being cis. In the other story and when using the new mechanics with older stories, both characters can be which ever gender identity they wish. Having a relationship between two trans characters in the game is as easy as saying that's the story you want to tell.

Thanks for your feedback!
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Nikki Valens

Greater Minneapolis-St. Paul
Minnesota
msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
JemL wrote:
I'm looking forward to seeing the results of this effort. The fact that you're here asking these questions makes me feel quite certain that the end result will be better than no representation at all.

My own experience isn't quite applicable to the narrative of FoL, because I didn't have a partner who knew me before I transitioned socially and hormonally. My partner at that time gave it a reasonable try before concluding that, sorry, she really was straight, and that was that.

I do have a partner now who was with me the whole time I planned for, underwent, and recovered from surgery. Not as much drama there as most stories, though; he was very supportive, left the decision in my hands, and was clear he'd stay with me no matter what I decided.

We both continue to be very happy with each other, and with my surgery results. Yay happy endings!

Thank you for including this material in your upcoming project. It means a lot to me to see that represented in a storytelling medium I love so much.

This type of story is also possible in the game. Thank you for sharing your story.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Peter S.
United States
Sacramento
California
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
secretbetrayer wrote:
Full disclosure, I have not played FoL, just watched the Overboard Let’s Play.

Personally, I think putting a lot of focus on Gender Affirming Surgeries may be a mistake, as some of touched on earlier. I think Hormone Replacement Therapy is more accessible and common and could be a space for a less talked about aspect of some trans folx experiences. Just off the top of my head, hormones can affect emotions, libido, appetite, body hair and odor, weight distribution, and how often one needs to urinate.

Here are some other possible scene topics:
-Choosing a new name, new petnames
-discussing legally changing one’s name/documents
-A discussion of how/if one partner’s evolving gender identity changes how each partner thinks of their sexuality.
-Shopping for/making/wearing a binder/breastforms/packer
-navigating possible anger/jealousy towards cisgender partner for their cis privilege
-Discussing coming out in the workplace, possibly risking losing job.
-You’re out on a date/in public/visiting family, and another person keeps using the wrong pronouns for the partner who is trans. How do you respond?
-Going clothes shopping together.
-Facing anxiety about using the locker room/bathroom/going swimming in a public pool
-Negotiating changes in libido, how you’re comfortable having your body touched, words you want them to use to refer to your body
-If you are going to have a content related to surgery, a big thing for me was a discussion of if my partner at the time was able to be with me while I healed after my top surgery. They are also trans but with less financial privilege, so there was understandable tension there, as they’d been out much longer than me, and they ultimately (and understandably) decided they couldn’t be there for it.

Also, would it be possible to have another story where both people are trans, and one is just beginning to explore their gender identity and the other has been out for a while? This was the case for two relationships I’ve been in.

Hope this helps!
I'd agree with this. Starting hormone therapy is a big step - to me, it feels like jumping straight to surgery is both missing an opportunity and glossing over a big part of transitioning, surgical or otherwise.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Marja Erwin
United States
Fairfax
Virginia
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmb
I'd suggest focusing on something else, such as hormones. Or tbas. Or mis-matched documentation.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.