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 obtained the possibility to attempt a digital expertise referred to as Body of Mine that opened my eyes to what this tech can actually do. I didn’t discover “the metaverse.” As a substitute, I obtained to discover myself.

Physique of Mine is an experimental storytelling expertise. It’s interactive, however not a “recreation,” per se. As a substitute, the VR setting 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 girl.

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 girl’s physique, contained in the digital world. 

It took a short while to arrange, however as soon as it was prepared, I used to be trying by her eyes. My arms have been her arms. Her legs have been my legs. My breasts have been … wait, grasp on.

The artists inspired me to discover and contact totally different elements of “my” physique by trying down at myself and right into a mirror that was positioned instantly throughout from me. The phantasm wasn’t fairly good, however it broke by a psychological barrier that few items of media ever have. After 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 means that even different VR video games don’t actually pull off.

Elevating my fingers to the touch “my” arms felt pure. I’m undecided 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, however it wasn’t mine. I do know my physique fairly properly. 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 girl’s physique.

After I touched sure elements of my physique—comparable 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 when you discover.

“We needed to dive into the precise sensation of gender dysphoria and the bodily manifestations of that,” mentioned Cameron Kostopoulos, Physique of Mine’s creator. “In an effort to try this, we needed to have you ever relate to your individual physique, after which by that relate to those trans tales.”

Physique After Physique

Courtesy of Physique of Mine

After a couple of clips, the expertise adjustments. The physique you begin out exploring disappears in a superb and enchanting impact that dissolves elements 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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