37m people use the gaming platform every day in search of adventure – and for teenagers exploring their gender identity, it is also a place of liberation
When she was a child, Hannah discovered two portals to other worlds. The first was her Nintendo 64, which could transport her to the dark dungeons of Zelda and the chaotic battlefields of Super Smash Bros. The second was her mother’s wardrobe in their Devon home, full of clothes she longed to try on, even though this was forbidden. Hannah had been assigned male at birth and raised as a boy; she feared her mother would not approve of her son trying on dresses. It wasn’t until a decade later that Hannah would come out as transgender, identify as female, and adopt her current name.
She vividly remembers the first time she explored that wardrobe, at the age of nine. Her mother was at work, her father asleep downstairs in his chair. Hannah crept into their bedroom and tentatively opened a drawer. She took out a silky nightgown and shrugged it on, feeling the instant, giddy rush of something she would later learn to call “gender euphoria”, though it was tempered by fear that someone would walk in. As if on cue, her mother returned from work unexpectedly and caught Hannah in the act.
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