A Trans-Setting Star Exhibits Her Craft: The Transgender Community and the Starcraft II Professional Video Gamers

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In the modern history of the sport, the world had great difficulty in the acceptance of what has now been termed mental sports, including chess and other non-contact, mostly non-physical competitive activities.

People devote their entire lives to these competitions out of sheer love of it. Some of the chess world came to a head with the long-time world champion Garry Kasparov competing against the supercomputer — super for the time at least — named Deep Blue.

Since this time, the interest in what may best be termed, for now, mental sports has simply grown a lot. This is particularly true for the number of those who have entered into the competitive gaming realm earning — and no word of exaggeration — hundreds of thousands of dollars (USD) in their professional careers, akin to professional skateboarders who you can appreciate in the artistry of their excellence in their chosen craft.

Akin to other sports worlds, some of the interesting aspects of the world of this new domain of sports gone mental-digital is the, yes, often well-known and substantiated instances of open misogyny within some sectors and amongst some members of the video gaming or gamer community.

But there may also be other facets to this dialogue not entirely covered. One is the win for the transgender community, likely, with the inclusion and non-controversy in the inclusion of a trans individual in the ranks of one of the more prominent and long-time famous real-time strategy or RTS games: Starcraft II.

Sasha Hostyn, born in December of 1993, is a professional Starcraft II player amongst the highest ranking in the world in addition to playing Dota 2 to some degree. The questions here relate to the ways in which a Canadian gamer is anything new.

It’s not.

What is newer, especially given some of the regressive aspects of some of the community some (in-)famous incidents over the years in the world of professional video gaming, Hostyn, or “Scarlett,” has been the only woman to win an international Starcraft II tournament.

More significantly, she is known as the queen of Starcraft II and, potentially, one of the most accomplished women video gamers in the land today, as well as being a trans woman.

What has been especially noteworthy in the world of professional video gaming here, Scarlett’s gender identity is a non-issue within the community of announcers, gamers, and, as far as I can tell, the wider community of professional Starcraft II video gamers, which sets a tone and timbre on the world of professional video gaming different than before — not simply symbolically but in a display of recognized excellence in performance based on rankings and winnings.

That’s trend-setting.

Photo by Nathalie SPEHNER on Unsplash

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