A transgender competitor named Gabe (she/they) was disqualified from and then reinstated to an Apex Legends tournament with a $100,000 cash prize within 24 hours after organizers were faced with complaints about their gender identity.
According to a report from Kotaku, Gabe and her teammates on Team Vexxx were previously cleared to play in the Her Galaxy tournament by organizers, before they were told the whole team was disqualified due to Gabe’s official identification documents having male markers. The Her Galaxy organization is open to transgender women, though they do have a gender verification process that requires players to submit their legal identity documents. Gabe told Kotaku and the organizers that she hasn’t changed her identity documents because it would result in her being kicked out of her home. She also doesn’t have much identifying information on her social media accounts because she has family members online who might see her profiles.
“They understood my circumstances, they knew I couldn’t go change my government identity because of me potentially getting kicked out of my house,” Gabe told Kotaku.
The complaints seemed to arise after Gabe and two other trans women teammates performed well in a separate all-women’s Apex tournament. Though Kotaku was unable to verify that there was a petition to get Team Vexxx removed from the next round of the Her Galaxy tournament, they did confirm that Gabe received a message from the organizers saying that she was “ineligible to continue competing in the Apex Legends tournament…based on previously submitted documentation, including gender self identity.”
When Gabe tried to explain the situation to Her Galaxy organizers, she says she received the following response:
“These decisions are not easy, we understand that everyone’s journeys are different and may not be linear. We don’t take these decisions lightly and it’s a priority for us that all participants meet the qualifications specified in the rulebook in order to maintain the competitive integrity of the tournament. This issue was raised by a significant number of participants in the tournament. Galaxy Racer and Her Galaxy conducted a thorough investigation in that matter and this is the decision based on the investigation.”
When Her Galaxy announced this decision in its official Discord server, many tournament participants felt it was rooted in transphobia. Some pointed to recordings of one team making comments about Gabe’s gender on stream. The next day, Her Galaxy announced that it had reversed its decision and reinstated Team Vexxx into the Apex Legends tournament after a phone call with Gabe where they admitted their mistake in disqualifying them.
“Following today’s events, we have made the decision to reinstate the team in question to the HER Galaxy $100K Apex Legends Open,” organizers wrote in the Discord server. “The HER Galaxy $100K Apex Legends Open was created to provide an inclusive, welcoming space for women and trans women. This is a teachable moment for us, and we will continue to improve our processes so this does not happen again. We apologize for any hurt or confusion this caused. — — Independently, as part of this investigation, we have unearthed discourse that violates our code of conduct. We have a zero tolerance policy for discriminatory behavior and have disqualified this team from the HER Galaxy $100K Apex Legends Open. Education and rehabilitation are a priority for HER Galaxy, and we hope this team can join us in building a more inclusive and supportive space.”
The team with the member who was speaking negatively about Gabe and her teammates were the ones who were disqualified. Gabe told Kotaku that two out of three of these team members had reached out to apologize.