‘Pokémon’ gives transphobic judge a lifetime ban

Pokémon cards
Minh Hoang/Flickr (CC BY-ND 2.0)

A certified judge has been banned from participating in any official Pokémon event due to “transphobic behavior” towards a group of trans players in an official event that happened last weekend.

PokéBeach reported that multiple players filed complaints through Pokémon’s official support system after the judge in question allegedly verbally harassed a group of trans players during and outside the Vancouver Regionals. According to players, the Texan judge approached them and asked for feedback on how judges in these events could be inclusive. But then the conversation began to sour as the judge commented on the players’ appearances and began to talk over them.

“[He] started out positive asking us how Pokemon judges could do better [to be] more inclusive. I do think the original discussion was coming from a place of sincerity.

“But it quickly devolved. The judge “told each of the trans women in our group how he could tell they were ‘born a boy,’ for reasons such as ‘you have a boyish build’ or ‘you have a manly face’. He didn’t listen to our [views] and instead chose to talk over us.”

Players also reported that the same judge in question followed them to a private dinner uninvited and “continued to antagonize” the group. The judge was requesting feedback for a chance to move up the ladder. But at the same time, he continued to criticize the players’ appearances, claiming that “they don’t pass for women.”

“He needed players to give him good feedback in order to move up the ladder. During the dinner, he continued to “[go around] one by one to all of us pointing out why we don’t pass for women.”

It was reported that the Texan judge had pre-existing allegations prior to the Vancouver regionals. Fortunately, after shaken players reported the judge for his transphobic actions, the event organizers moved swiftly and ensured that the affected group was safe. As for the judge, it was reported that he was stripped from his certified status and was banned from the community.

The Pokémon Company International released a company-wide policy in 2019, committed to promoting diversity, equality, and inclusivity in all areas of the organization. This also includes official tournaments. The policy stated the Pokémon Company’s commitment to “fostering an environment that is inclusive to all participants” and how this is very important.

“The Pokémon Company International is committed, in its role as the sanctioning body of Play! Pokémon tournaments worldwide, to fostering an environment that is inclusive to all participants regardless of factors including but not limited to age, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender, and/or disability…

“…Building a truly diverse and inclusive program is a long-term and ongoing process to which we are fully committed.
We recognize that this is a core area for the program and one which we must continuously monitor and strive to

And it’s not just Pokémon that’s pushing for a safer playing environment in its tournament. Konami recently updated its tournament rules, stating that it will immediately disqualify players who intentionally misgender other players. According to The Gamer, players with a reported or known history of toxic behavior could also be barred from competing even before they even step foot on the event.

As trans rights continue to be an ongoing issue in the United States and other parts of the world, it’s great to see popular game tournaments take action in fostering a safe environment for players, especially those who see these games as an escape from their everyday lives.