Sophie - Post a comment
my journal
September 2016

Date: 2011-01-28 05:50
Security: Public
Mood:satisfied satisfied
Tags:gender identity, steam, usernames, valve
Subject: Steam followup

Well, my issue with Steam about my username has been resolved. After you guys spread the word - via Twitter, journal posts, and even Reddit (twice), a support person replied to the ticket I quoted from in my post to tell me that I could create a new account and they would transfer the games from my old account to my new one.

This is a great outcome, and I want to thank Valve for allowing this to happen, as well as everybody who spread the word, thereby bringing it to Valve's attention. I've now created the new account and the games have been transferred over, and they seem to work fine - in particular, one of the games I expected to have issues with (GTA4) has had (so far) no issues at all, despite its SecuROM protection and Games for Windows LIVE setup. (I did get issued a new key to use for it, but I expected that, since I was effectively a different user.)

I also want to respond to some of the stuff that was said about me by others.

Some people thought that if I was this upset about a Steam username, that I would have serious problems with transitioning. The thing is, it's not just the Steam username, it's the whole series of things with similar patterns that I and other transgendered people see over and over again. If I didn't try to change these sorts of things, then you have to wonder exactly what I *would* be changing.

I changed my name for a reason, and that reason is that I didn't want to use the old name any more. So it only makes sense for me to want to change it everywhere I can.

Some people are arguing that I knew about these restrictions and should suck it up because I agreed to them when I signed up to Steam. I'd like to invite those people to browse the Steam Subscriber Agreement and tell me where they see those restrictions listed, because I'm fairly sure they're not there. (And just in case Steam changes their Agreement because of this, you may also want to check this copy which I made using today. Warning: The backup pages produced by that site can contain ads.)

Even if the Agreement had contained those clauses, though, a username is not just an arbitrary selection of letters and numbers. That is to say, from a technical perspective it is, but in all other respects it's part of an identity. For a lot of people, that identity overlaps with their real life identity, and if that identity changes, it only makes sense that the username should be able to be changed along with it. If that's not possible because it was programmed such that other things depend on the username, then it should at least be possible to create a new account and transfer everything from the old account to it, or regenerate certain info for the new account. This is particularly true if the account is used for any financial transactions. I mean, come on, even eBay allows you to change your username, which allows you to keep your feedback rating, and it's one of the most popular sites on the Web. (They do keep a history of usernames used with the account to prevent fraud, but I'm okay with that, as it's in a non-obvious place and you have to go out of your way to look at it. Some people won't be okay with even that, although I'm not one of them.)

I also want to remind people that I have, in fact, changed my name legally, and I offered the name change documents as proof of this fact. At least one person I saw was saying that it seemed reasonable that they shouldn't have to accommodate a name change if it wasn't legal. I, too, feel this is a reasonable thing to say. But before this got resolved, Steam refused to do even that.

As for the people saying that I shouldn't have chosen that name because I would be transitioning later... I honestly don't know what to say to that, except that I'd like to know where you're getting your crystal balls from.

One thing I asked in the ticket after all this happened was whether there were any plans to change the policy, and I suggested that Steam could allow it for people who have legal name change documents, which should pretty effectively prevent fraud or ban/VAC evasion. Their reply was, and I quote:

We appreciate your suggestion, however I have no information on upcoming Steam client changes or updates.
I've asked that the suggestion be submitted to management, if possible. (I'm assuming that they didn't actually mean *client* changes or updates.)

So, it seems that this was likely a one-off, especially as they didn't actually ask *me* for my legal name change documents. I do hope that they change their policy, though, because I suspect I'm far from the only person in this situation.

Thank you to everybody who spread the word about this, and thank you to Valve for a quick, helpful response! (Although I wish I hadn't needed to get it this way.)

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