In the popular simulation game The Sims, players have long been able to create male and female characters — but only up to a point. That changed this year. In May, Electronic Arts, the publisher of The Sims, released a patch for the game that removed all gender barriers, freeing players to create virtual characters with any physical attribute.

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For Blair Durkee, the shift was significant. The day after the patch was introduced, Ms. Durkee, a student at Clemson University in South Carolina, logged into The Sims and started designing her first transgender character. She named the character Amber, gave her a deep voice and broad shoulders, and made her infertile, “which is really the only attribute that all trans people have in common,” said Ms. Durkee, 28, who transitioned to female at 24.

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