VR Helped Me Visualize Gender Dysphoria

I’ve spent a lot of time in VR. A few of it is impressive; some, not so much. However at this year’s SXSW in Austin, Texas, I bought the prospect to strive a digital expertise known as Body of Mine that opened my eyes to what this tech can actually do. I didn’t discover “the metaverse.” As an alternative, I bought to discover myself.

Physique of Mine is an experimental storytelling expertise. It’s interactive, however not a “sport,” per se. As an alternative, the VR atmosphere places the viewer within the physique of somebody with a unique gender than their very own. I’m a masc-presenting cis man, and so the artists who constructed it put me into a female lady.

Matching Up

The artists slipped an HTC Vive headset over my head and strapped a number of movement trackers to my physique. My ankles, wrists, higher arms, and waist every had a tracker that corresponded to the 3D mannequin of a lady’s physique, contained in the digital world. 

It took a short time to arrange, however as soon as it was prepared, I used to be wanting via her eyes. My arms had been her arms. Her legs had been my legs. My breasts had been … wait, dangle on.

The artists inspired me to discover and contact completely different components of “my” physique by wanting down at myself and right into a mirror that was positioned instantly throughout from me. The phantasm wasn’t fairly good, nevertheless it broke via a psychological barrier that few items of media ever have. Once I play video video games with an avatar of a unique gender, I would really feel just like the character I management is “me.” However right here, I inhabited this physique in a approach that even different VR video games don’t actually pull off.

Elevating my fingers to the touch “my” arms felt pure. I’m unsure if that’s as a result of my movement was tracked extra granularly or as a result of the artists ready me for what I used to be going to see. However it additionally felt a bit jarring. I used to be inside this physique, nevertheless it wasn’t mine. I do know my physique fairly nicely. I’ve pretty sturdy arms. I’ve a good quantity of physique hair. I don’t have breasts. I had none of this in frequent with this lady’s physique.

Once I touched sure components of my physique—akin to my arms, legs, stomach, and head—the mannequin would begin to glow in that spot. Then, an audio clip would play. Physique of Mine’s workforce interviewed round 20 trans individuals to let their phrases and tales information this expertise, and also you hear their voices whilst you discover.

“We needed to dive into the precise sensation of gender dysphoria and the bodily manifestations of that,” stated Cameron Kostopoulos, Physique of Mine’s creator. “With the intention to do this, we needed to have you ever relate to your individual physique, after which via that relate to those trans tales.”

Physique After Physique

Courtesy of Physique of Mine

After a number of clips, the expertise adjustments. The physique you begin out exploring disappears in an excellent and enchanting impact that dissolves components of your physique little by little. Then, within the mirror, I begin to see extra our bodies seem, one after the opposite. 

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