Content warning: This article contains mentions of rape and mental illness.

Trauma never goes away. It can be treated with therapy, or diluted with the continued help of friends and family, but the negative experiences we go through will forever be a part of us. Queer people are especially susceptible to trauma that lingers, thanks to societal bigotry and the hoops we must jump through to secure our own happiness. It happened to me, and in recent months I have been dealing with past incidents of sexual assault and my own sense of identity in a world where I don’t always feel welcome. It’s hard, but I keep moving forward.

I’d come to recognise I was suppressing my emotions around these elements of my past, unaware how much of an impact they were having on me. It wasn’t until a close friend asked me what was wrong, and where my life was going if I wasn’t brave enough to confront it all. Trauma conditions your mind into never exposing what it perceives as weakness, blacking out experiences that once came close to tearing you apart. It was a toxic melting pot I was afraid to confront, let alone break down in ways that would allow me to heal.

Related: Heartstopper Season 2 Review: Confident, Adorable, And Filled With Smooches

I was raped last year. As I go about my gender transition and try whatever I can to take back control of the body I continue to despise, these are memories I always come back to. How the people responsible saw me as an object skirting the gender binary that could fulfil their fantasies, but only if it meant confining me to a reality where I can’t look in the mirror or broach intimacy without feeling ashamed. Piece by piece I’m pulling myself out of the abyss, although I know the scars will remain and a future of hormones and surgery won’t fix what may forever remain broken.

He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me is a biographical narrative adventure from Taylor McCue that released on Steam this week, and centres on similar trauma. Queer critics were quick to praise it as an unflinching glimpse into the personal experiences of a transgender woman exploring her trauma through the medium of an expressionist Game Boy title. It is harrowingly explicit, and even then can’t broach the harshest of details because in the words of its creator: such an approach would have made finishing a game like this impossible. It proved difficult for them to heal from all the trauma these tribulations inflicted upon them, but in equal measure it felt important to share this story with the world if it helped to heal, understand, or cast away whatever demons have sought to haunt them for all these years.

McCue’s game will only take you 40 minutes to complete as it follows the author’s brief experiences with sex work in the midst of her gender transition. Before the Affordable Care Act, it was even more difficult than it is today for the majority of working class trans people to procure medication like hormones or blockers. Many had to resort to sex work or similar trades to try in vain to make ends meet. It’s a noble profession, and one admired by a lot of queer communities when trans people are able to take control of their bodies as tools of simultaneous business and pleasure in the midst of a heteronormative society.

He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me

But this pride can come at a cost, or the participation of cisgender clients all too eager to treat trans people as fetish objects or merely to take advantage before casting them aside. The game rides the line, indulging in the victories of sex work while stressing that to be thrown into that environment when you aren’t ready, or simply have no other choice, will leave lasting wounds behind. My trauma will stay with me for the rest of my life, and I have to question the actions of people and places I frequent with the fear that a similar act might unfold again. He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me understands that struggle, tearing open my scars in the hope that it can help them heal properly for what feels like the very first time.

As memories become harder and harder to comprehend, McCue resorts to abstract imagery and an almost apocalyptic atmosphere to portray the people she meets and the locations she revisits. An unrequited love who pulls her vulnerable soul into the vices of sex work, or a parent happy to dish out deadnames while asking for money to tackle bills when McCue can hardly afford to pay her own way. These struggles are relentless, with seldom a ray of light ever shining through the darkness. I was constantly barraged by small reminders of my own past, and even current parts of my life where transphobia and sexual insecurity are a foreboding constant. Countless trans people live these occurrences, but block them out or convince themselves that soldiering onward is the only way.

He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me

McCue deliberately obscures details or portrays moments of sexual vulnerability with short bursts of dialogue or pixelated imagery that perfectly encapsulates the feelings of lingering horror. Memories of sexual trauma become a battle of endurance. Gritting your teeth and getting through it is the only means of survival, as an overriding sense of guilt pervades your entire being. No matter how much the voices in your head are kicking and screaming for you to run away, all you can do is stay and hope for a way out.

For all the hopelessness that He Fucked The Girl Out Of Me conveys, it carries the message of embracing the positives in life even as trauma remains a part of you. It never goes away, and without the help of therapy or exposure it can subconsciously hinder our ambitions in ways we will never be able to fathom. We shouldn’t be ashamed to express stories like this through means that makes opening up about the brutal specifics that much easier. Even if McCue is represented by a walking, talking ghost with a love for emoji expressions in the game itself, her experiences couldn’t be any more human.

They’ve helped me to heal, and while the road ahead is still tarred with adversity, that move towards a better place has to mean something.

Next: Tears Of The Kingdom's Master Sword Moment Will Go Down In History