I'm sitting in a hotel room in Dallas right now. There's a credential with my name on it waiting about a mile away at the American Airlines Center. I've worked years for the right to attend NBA games for free, and ask the players and coaches questions. But right now, I'm not taking advantage of that. Instead, I'm completely consumed by fear and anxiety. You see, I'm a transgendered person, and that credential is in my birth name. My male name.
It might seem impossible that someone running a sports blog could be transgendered. But it's true. I can't explain how or why I've always believed that I was a woman, but in my heart of hearts I've always known it to be true. It's not something that can be explained, it simply is. Unfortunately, I was assigned the male gender at birth, and grew up in an environment where femininity wasn't tolerated. As a result, I've lived my entire life in a massive depression that I've had incredible trouble dealing with. The depression has seeped into every aspect of my life, and rears it's ugly head every time I have to interact with another human being. I've only recently been able to come out to friends and family, whom have all been very accepting.
But I'm not here to talk about my problems. I'm here to say goodbye. I'm 23 now, and I've blogged about the Thunder since they moved to OKC in 2008. Blogging has literally been a part of almost every day of my adult life, and I don't know how things might be without it. More than anything, I'd love to continue running this blog for the foreseeable future. But there's no possible way I can write one more post or accept one more credential under my male persona.
Whether I'm able to continue blogging as a woman isn't really up to me. For one, I've never been a very successful blogger. When I had to balance WTLC and college, I could never get the kind of quality output that was necessary to keep people coming back. I've helped build up a small audience over the past couple years, but nothing that could make me seriously considered a professional. More than anything, this site has flourished due to the work of J.A. Sherman and his team behind the scenes, while I was struggling to make deadlines. Again, I've improved recently, but I don't see what incentive SB Nation would have to keep a transgendered blogger in one of the most conservative markets in the country. Also, I no-showed the credential given to me by Mavs Moneyball, which is pretty devastating to a professional reputation.
I don't know why I'm being so forthright and honest, and I don't know why I think anyone cares. All I'm doing here is trying to make myself a story, destroying what little reputation I have, and alienating the majority of my audience. But all of those things are better than continuing to live my life as a lie.
-Marina Mangiaracina (nee Zebulun Benbrook/Zorgon)
UPDATE: I have talked with the higher ups at SB Nation, and they've expressed full support for my decision. Honestly, I should have known. SB Nation is a company with writers all over the globe, so they've certainly had to deal with similar issues relating to tolerance before. I would like to apologize to them publicly for not contacting them first. All I can say is that I did this only because I felt I had no other options at the time. When I felt like I was staring at a way out of something that's consumed my life, I found it impossible to resist.
But anyway, this blog isn't about me. It's about the Thunder, it's about basketball, and it's about having fun. Throwing a leather sphere into a metal ring doesn't build bridges or feed the masses. At the end of the day, basketball is just another way for us all to relate to each other and enjoy our time on this earth as much as possible. So let's all just do our best to move on, with respect.
Nothing will change about WTLC. I plan on continuing to run it for the foreseeable future, and I'm having the time of my life. Swapping genders doesn't mean swapping hobbies, or likes and dislikes. Women are just as capable of appreciating basketball as anyone else, and we've had female writers on the blog before.
Really, I made a bit more of a show of it than I probably should have. But at the end of the day, what's done is done, and I'm leaving the original post up so people can see what kind of situation might spark someone to make that kind of change in their life.
Also, I'm going to state the obvious: If you're ever in a boat similar to mine, don't hesitate to reach out to those around you (or even me, if you want) for help. If a 6'5" basketball-obsessed blogger can be accepted as a woman among friends and colleagues whilst living in Oklahoma, then there's gotta be hope for a lot of other folks out there.
-Marina Mangiaracina (@MarinaWTLC)