THE BLOG
10/02/2013 12:30 pm ET | Updated Feb 02, 2016

This Is Why Trans People Rarely Speak Up When We're Misgendered

I'm sitting here writing with tears running down my face. In the last 72 hours I've received more death threats, rape threats, abuse and hatred than I can count. I'm transgender, and on Sunday, Sept. 29, I found my name spreading across the gaming community for identifying the man who'd misgendered me.

I'd spent four days in London covering a huge gaming convention called Eurogamer. On the show's final day I decided that, as I'd finished all my work, I'd go have a look around for something to do for fun. I eventually settled on spending some time at the Xbox stage.

Having walked past the stage repeatedly over the weekend, I knew the format. Every hour they were giving away a game console on stage. Each time, they brought six people up on stage: five men and one token woman to prevent sexism accusations. When they asked for volunteers, I was the first picked by the presenter to come up on stage. Jackpot.

He pulled four men up on stage with me and then started insisting that they needed a woman up on stage too. Were there any women in the audience who wanted to take part? My heart sank instantly. Despite my presentation, he was insisting to the audience that nobody on stage was female. I felt sick.

During the time I was on stage, he referred to me more than once as male. Once he realized his mistake, he switched to "er, that person" rather than use female pronouns like he did for the other woman on stage. Everyone else was either "gentleman" or "young woman." I'm just something that he was afraid to try to address.

I walked away pretty upset. I spoke to the staff manning the stage to tell them I was unhappy and asked to talk to the presenter. My requests were refused. I requested the presenter's name so that I could make a formal complaint. They refused. At this point I was fairly upset and angry. I made a complaint anyway, but I also took to Twitter to voice my anger over the fact that this man had upset me, yet I was not able to tell him directly and get closure. I decided to head home -- a trip of a few hours by train -- and thought nothing more of it.

Those few hours changed everything. A friend of mine contacted me with the Twitter handle of the presenter, whose name turned out to be Fraser Millward. I was angry and upset, so, perhaps stupidly, I mentioned him on Twitter by his handle. Then a huge number of people started to retweet me, more people than I can wrap my head around. The story ended up on Reddit and 4Chan. Suddenly I was in the spotlight. I was getting tweets sent my way more quickly than I could read them, and everything happened at once. This all happened while I was on the train home.

Some tweets were supportive. Some were accusations that I'd made the whole thing up. Most of them were vile messages about how I am a man and a disgusting freak who would be better off dead. The number of death threats and dehumanizing comments I received was unbelievable. Being misgendered at Eurogamer was nothing compared with my punishment for speaking up about it. This is why trans people rarely speak up when these things happen. People tracked down my phone number. Hate flooded my work inbox. I had people threatening to track me down in person and attack me. People found my old identity and began to try to publicize it. I faced the darkest aspects of the Internet just for existing and speaking up.

The gaming industry isn't terribly kind to trans people. I've written a longer piece about my experiences here. I am usually the first to discuss trans issues within the gaming industry, but a few days of death threats can really limit one's will to fight. All I wanted to do was tell someone that he had upset me. I never wanted anything else.