Over the weekend, Trickssi, cosplay celebrity, guest starred at Anime Crossroads in Indianapolis where her panel discusses parts of her cosplay journey and how she wants to help those who are assaulted and harassed in her community.
Trickssi loves making costumes, but says she faces hard times around a group of toxic and terrible people she considered to be her friends. Trickssi is a survivor of rape and stalking. When harassment happens at conventions, Trickssi says it is not an ideal situation for people to get the staff or call the police. Seeing people being cat called and harassed in the community makes Trickssi think about how she can improve the way cosplayers are treated.
“I am not going to live the rest of my life not having done something to change my community for the better,” Trickssi said.
In 2016, Trickssi founded Cosplay Survivor Support Network (CSSN) to advocate for those in the cosplay community who are stalked, harassed, abused, or sexually assaulted. As a survivor of sexual assault, Trickssi wants to make sure her organization helps everyone, no matter what gender, race, or disability they have.
Trickssi almost did not attend Anime Crossroads because they did not include a stable harassment policy. The convention changed their policies for her to be a guest, but it also impacted a lot of attendees too.
CSSN gives “report cards” to conventions on the quality of their harassment policies. CSSN’s harassment policies contain information on guidelines such as how accessibly available the policy is, how harassment is defined, consequences of harassment and where to find it on the convention’s website. The harassment policies also affect the attendees too.
20-year-old Ivy Tech student Eli Evens came to Anime Crossroads when he was younger. Noticing the changes to the harassment policy, Evens said he feels safe to return after many years.
“It was a huge reason to come back,” Evens said to Trickssi. “Because of you.”
Trickssi’s panel at Anime Crossroads, “I was a cosplay mean girl”, shares her experiences being bullied and harassed by her cosplay friends. The panel was designed for discussion and open questions, so people could share their convention experiences.
James Williams spoke on how he travels to conventions to help advocate for autism. He struggles being taken seriously as being openly asexual, autistic man, but says he is only taken seriously since he is male.
Trickssi also struggles being taken seriously by conventions who do not feel the need to change their policies. She has conventions push back or refuse to update their harassment policies. As people share their stories of harassment and abuse with Trickssi, she realizes people will always be harassed. At least CSSN can support those who are survivors and targets.
“The message was to be not alone, and to be believed. It’s very important to have someone believe you. When that doesn’t happen it can ruin your entire recovery journey,” Trickssi said.
At the end of her panel, Trickssi shared a list of resources for those being bullied and harassed weather in cosplay, online, or real life. She also includes her own organization for people to mention conventions harassment policies.
Trickssi hopes the future of CSSN will include more funding to get people on board. A booth for CSSN at conventions would help spread the word. She mentions CSSN is considering expanding their report cards because they are seeing many conventions getting six out six.
Even though she travels to advocate for CSSN, Trickssi still loves cosplaying at conventions. Being self taught, she relied on her friends different skills to help her. She competed in cosplay contests, but found them to be stressful.
“To me cosplay is about embodying parts of the character that I really love that are not otherwise expressed,” Trickssi said.
The cosplay she wore Sunday was based on a video character named Velvet Crowe. The character healing from a traumatic experience spoke to Trickssi as a survivor of sexual assault. She enjoys bringing to life certain aspects of her character that might go unknown.
For the moment Trickssi is reeling back from the convention scene to save money for her wedding. She wants to focus on her family, her health and being a cat mom.
More information on CSSN and convention’s report cards can be found on cosplayer-ssn.org.