All women, cis or trans, will be allowed to compete in ESL and advocacy organization AnyKey’s women’s esports tournaments.
AnyKey was forced to reaffirm its position regarding event inclusivity following an incident ahead of ESL’s Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 5on5 Female Open Summer 2017 online tournament. A team of transgender women were barred entry from the tournament after organizers accused them of faking their genders, according to BuzzFeed.
The tournament, organized by Munich Finest Gaming and hosted by ESL, requested government-issued proof of each team member’s gender. When they were unable to supply that—as gender expressed on a passport is not always indicative of a person’s actual gender—their application was rejected.
Tournament rules state that all teams with five female players are able to enter.
“Regardless of what it says on your passport or ID, or what judgments people may want to make about who they think you are, at AnyKey we believe in a policy of ‘you are who you say you are,'” AnyKey director of research T.L. Taylor wrote in a post detailing AnyKey’s position. “This means that anyone who self-identifies and lives as a woman should be able to participate in any women-only tournaments.”
Those opposed to the decision are worried that trolls or griefers will enter ESL’s women’s tournaments, pretending to be women. “But the costs and risks in preserving outdated models of gender is too high, especially for our trans sisters who already bear a disproportionate burden,” Taylor said.
“We also believe this concern highlights that even more work that needs to be done at the organizational level to educate those running tournaments and building esports in their companies and communities,” Taylor added. “Policies and processes, as well as forms of communication, need to be oriented to the dignity and self determination of all women.”
AnyKey will continue working with ESL to “improve the global women’s tournament criteria so we can reach our goals of fairness and inclusion,” the organization said in a tweet.
Update 10:35am CT, May 9: Buzzfeed has updated its story to reflect a new report from InfoWars, where a group of trolls say they “tricked” Buzzfeed into believing they were transgender women “for laughs.”
AnyKey’s stance on inclusivity, however, has not changed. “We look forward to continuing to work with ESL on values, policies, and structures that support all women, cis and trans, in esports,” AnyKey director of research T.L. Taylor told Dot Esports.
Dot Esports has reached out to ESL for comment.