This Group of Transgender Gamers is Making a Difference
It was a simple matter of chance really. For the last two years, I have been serving as the director of the Transgender Resource Center of Long Island, a charity created to provide vital support to the members of the transgender, non-binary, intersex, and gender non-conforming community. We are a group created by our own, one that literally started in a garage and has since grown to operating out of various locations that we are able to rent or convince people to let use for a few hours a week. We have become a giant family, if not the largest organized groups of transgender people in New York State. Our numbers grow with each passing week, but we are a group without a true home.
It was with this amazing group that I was introduced to Twitch and the concept of gamers live streaming on the internet. Over the last decade, the online gaming community has grown to epic proportions. The Twitch platform alone generates more than 5 million viewers a day and has produced a number of its own stars, some of who have millions of followers. Many of these gamers broadcast for 8 hours at a time while others produce daily and weekly shows, as viewers tune in and chat in the livestream’s message boards.
A little while back, some of our members had suggested that we do a charity stream on the platform to help us raise money towards our goal of building a permanent home for our community. For the last two years, we would broadcast on the Transgender Day of Visibility (TDoV) to raise awareness of our cause and hopefully get closer to our goal. For this year’s TDoV, we decided to branch out and see if other gamers would join us to help. Being a transgender organization, you never know what to expect, but what happened completely blew my mind.
"IT IS AS IF SHE WERE PLUCKED RIGHT OUT OF ONE OF HER OWN VIDEO GAMES, MORPHING FROM A FUTURISTIC VISION OF PUNK ROCK, GOTH, ROBOT, MODEL, VIXEN, WARRIOR, ALIEN, AND EVEN THE OCCASIONAL FURRY DEPENDING ON THE GIVEN CHALLENGE OF THE DAY."
I had asked some of the members of our group who their favorite gamers were on Twitch. Armed with a list of their favorites, I began to reach out them with the hope that they might help us. That was when I met a gamer named Nikatine. Her livestreams are something to see. It is as if she were plucked right out of one of her own video games, morphing from a futuristic vision of punk rock, goth, robot, model, vixen, warrior, alien, and even the occasional furry depending on the given challenge of the day. She is charismatic, funny, and edgy all at the same time, with her shocking bright red hair, an unwavering confidence and a kind heart. Oh, and did I also mention, she also happens to be transgender.
It turns out she is one of the founders and admins of a group called Transmission Gaming, a group of over 2,000 transgender gamers who had formed an alliance to build a family and possibly change the world. Nikatine told me how her group loved to help charities with a special affinity for transgender causes. Recently they had been part of the H.Bomberguy stream that made all the newsreels and helped to raise a ton of money for Mermaids, a transgender organization in the UK. The stream even got the attention of Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez who had called into to support the campaign.
Nikatine had offered to help us and even host the event on the Transmission Gaming Twitch page. She had spread the word out to her group and one by one they started signing up to help our resource center. I was completely blown away to find out that such a community exists in the world of gaming. Here they were, a group of people like us who had banded together and are out there trying to change the world. I needed to know more, so I reached back out to Nikatine, aka Nikki, and asked if she would grant me an interview. Luckily for me, she said yes.
Mila Madison: How long have you been streaming on the internet?
Nikatine: I've been a full-time Twitch streamer for a little over a year now.
MM: What inspired you to start Transmission Gaming?
Nikatine: Transmission Gaming started as a way to play games with other trans people. I was tired of getting harassed on voice chat in Overwatch, and thought wouldn't it be great to just play with other trans people who wouldn't care about my voice? I founded it with my really good friend Flaire, and since we founded TG almost 3 years ago, it's absolutely exploded in popularity. As far as I know, it's the longest running, largest all-trans gaming discord servers in existence.
MM: What year was the group founded?
Nikatine: Gosh, it was July 7 of 2016. Hard to even imagine.
MM: How many members are there today?
Today there are about 2300 people in TG, and it grows every day.
MM: When I was younger, before I really knew what trans was, gaming was a way for me to express femininity by being able to play as female characters. Do you think that is an experience that is shared in our community? I mean, gaming is popular with everyone, but it seems even more so in the transgender community. Do you think that is one of the reasons why or is there a lot more to it?
Nikatine: Oh most definitely. Huge same. When I was a kid, I had this experience with a game called “Tenchu” for the original PlayStation. It was the first time I could assume an avatar of a female character, and I just latched on to that as hard as I possibly could. Now I find it almost difficult to play a game if I can't play as a girl haha. In all my time as a very-openly-trans streamer, that experience of gravitating toward female characters is the one most shared by other trans women I've met. Twitch audiences can be sometimes be this wonderful intersection of queer people and gamers, and the experiences we all share can be pretty astoundingly common.
MM: In my experiences with the gaming community I have found a majority of the people I encounter to be so selfless and giving. People like yourself and the members of Transmission Gaming, who are often using their platform to help others. Do you see the gaming culture in that way and if so, why do you think that is?
Nikatine: I think there are plenty of gamers who are very selfless and giving. There are whole huge communities on Twitch specifically for charity streaming. But I think members of the queer community are especially good at supporting each other. We're very good at taking care of each other; we've seen loss and many of us know the struggle of finding a supportive home or family, so I think generally speaking we're very good at being a kind of big adopted family for each other.
MM: Your group was part of the H.Bomberguy stream that raised over $300,000 for Mermaids and even got the attention and a call in from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. I have heard some of your members talk about helping the Trevor Project and now this coming weekend you are helping an organization I am attached to, the Transgender Resource Center, to help us build a new community center. Did you always envision that your group would make such a difference in our community and help so many people?
Nikatine: When I started TG, I never imagined it would grow to this size. It was a gaming discord for a handful of trans people to play games together. But today, at this size, with a dedicated Twitch team of streamers, Transmission Gaming has grown to a point I never imagined possible. I couldn't be more proud of our members, our community moderation team, or my fellow admins.
MM: To quote your Twitch page, you confidently say you are “hella trans: and “trans AF.” As a transgender gamer who is putting themselves out there like you are, what has been some the reactions you have received?
Nikatine: Hoooooooo boy hahahah! I have gotten some of the most wildly-varied responses imaginable. I've been maliciously raided by thousands of people, banned hundreds, gotten death threats and incredible depths of hatred and vitriol. The first few times it happened were HORRIFYING haha. Now it just rolls off me. I don't know whether being used to that kind of abuse is a good thing or not, but it doesn't bother me anymore, and that can't be bad.
But no matter how bad things may get, occasionally I'll get a message in my chat or DMs from a trans person. Sometimes they tell me they have just started Hormone Replacement Therapy. Sometimes they say they're recovering from a surgery. Every so often they'll tell me that my stream made them feel a little less alone, and a little more at peace with themselves. If my stream can make one person feel more comfortable with being themselves, then it's worth any amount of negativity towards me. I'll take that negativity so someone else doesn't have to any day of the week.
MM: So let’s talk about some actual gaming stuff. What are some of your favorite games to stream?
Nikatine: Gosh, well games I play and games I stream are sometimes different. The games I stream lately have been games I can roleplay. Like, Grand Theft Auto V is a good game, but the roleplay community really makes it. Atlas as well - it's a great game, but the real draw is the roleplay potential. I play pretty distinct characters, and it really helps to be passionate about the game I'm using to really get into playing that character.
MM: I am sure many of the gamers who are out there streaming would want me to ask this question, so what kind of gear are you using?
Nikatine: I'm using a GTX 1070 graphics card, an Intel Skylake 4.0 GHz processor and a Logitech G602 mouse. It's got 6 little buttons on the side, which most people wouldn't really need or want but they're invaluable for roleplay. I can assign macros to them and make my character use emotes or change the camera angle or anything. It's honestly the best, but I know a wireless macro mouse is making some hardcore gamer cringe right now and I'm loving it.
MM: One of my favorite things you have done recently is the Furry stream, where you did the entire broadcast dressed up like a cat in full makeup. How did that all come about?
Oh gosh! Yeah that was a lot of fun. Last year, my chat started an in joke that I was a furry. I want to preface this by saying I have nothing against furries, they're lovely people, I'm just not a furry. Well in December I said that if I got 1000 “sub points” within a year, I'd dress up like a furry on stream. (Sub Points are a Twitch term for paid subscribers. Tier One, at $4.99 subscribers are 1 sub point, tier two, $9.99 is 2 sub points, and tier three is 6, at $24.99.) I had 1,000 sub points two months later.
MM: Is it really true that you are also a scuba diver, that you eat Doritos with chopsticks, and that you can pick your way out of handcuffs with a bobby pin?
Nikatine: All true! I'm PADI open-water certified to 60 feet below, and I don't like getting my hands dusty! And actually handcuffs are REALLY easy to open with bobby pins lol!
MM: Do you have any advice for gamers who are just starting out in the streaming world?
Nikatine: Don't give up! People can be mean sometimes, but there are a lot of good people out there too. Be passionate, be creative, don't just do things other people are doing. Get out there, make some mistakes, and remember that the only way to get good at streaming is to actually stream.
MM: For people who are interested in joining Transmission Gaming, what can they do to become part of the group?
Nikatine: Join the discord server! Answer the questions in the welcome channel, and come hang out! We have game nights, and multiple movie nights. There are always people hanging out in chat and it's very easy to make friends.
MM: What do you see in the future for yourself and Transmission Gaming?
Nikatine: I would like to see Transmission Gaming become an even greater force for good in the transgender community. I want to ensure that every trans gamer has a place online they can call home.
MM: Thank you for taking the time to speak with me and for all the great work you are doing to help our community.
Now I am not sure if our TDoV fundraising event will be a big success or not, but I do know that my meeting this amazing group of people is only the beginning of my experiences with them. To me, that makes the entire thing worthwhile. To be able to meet a group of people who share the same connection and spirit as our group at the Transgender Resource Center gives me hope that our universe is a lot bigger than I had originally thought. The thing is whether we are successful or not, our groups will always be one big family, and as Nikatine said, we all help each other in this community, and that is something great to be a part of.
Check out Transmission Gaming this Sunday, March 31st and every day at:
Check out their discord server at:
Watch Nikatine at: