A Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) tournament booted a teenager from the competition after he laughed at a pronoun question from a judge.
According to Makani Tran, he let a nervous laugh when asked about his preferred pronouns by a judge as he tried to come up with a third pronoun to go with he/him.
“On our way over to the stream area, the judge asked us for our preferred pronouns. I said, ‘Um he or him or uh,’ and I paused trying to think of the third pronoun (the third pronoun being his),” he recalled on social media.
“As I just stood there looking stupid, trying to think of the third pronoun, I felt embarrassed because I was failing to think of a simple word. Due to the nerves and me being embarrassed I let out a little laugh just a normal nervous laugh. My response together ended up being, ‘Um he or him or uhhhh haha his,’” Tran continued.
Tran said that later the judge asked him and another player, Alex Schemanske, for their preferred pronouns, which prompted another nervous laugh.
“The little laugh at the end was because I was trying not to be awkward and because I was just stating the exact thing Alex had just stated, and it was kind of silly to me in that scenario,” Tran wrote.
Tran said that the judge called him a “jerk.”
“Okay just wanted to check to be safe. I go by they/them, so don’t be a jerk about it,” the judge reportedly said.
Later, the head judge approached Tran to confront him about the encounter and escorted him off the stage when Tran explained that he laughed out of nerves.
“This is where it really escalated. The head judge tells me that he was sorry and that it sucked but I was disqualified due to pokemons [sic] policy,” he said. “At this point I’m at the verge of tears but I tried my best to keep my composure. I just couldn’t understand what was happening. Was the judge just not listening to anything I had just told him? Was he trying to look at my side of the story at all?”
Tran said he has no problems with using people’s desired pronouns and believes that he was mistreated by the judging team.
“The amount of frustration I felt and still feel is just insane. I have NEVER been treated so unbelievably unfairly and had such an opportunity just taken from me. For something I didn’t even do,” he said. “The judge said that while he believed that I had no bad intentions, it didn’t matter because, at the end of the day, someone was offended and upset.”
“This is ridiculous to me, I was very sympathetic for the judge I had upset and never meant to upset them or anyone and all the head judge cared about was that someone was upset and I caused it. I told him that I was also upset and that he just ruined my entire trip and I wouldn’t get over this for a long time,” Tran added.
According to Fox News, a judge named Will Post later said on Twitter that he agreed with the decision to disqualify Tran.
“Whether you agree/disagree with a ruling, a Pokémon judge should not have to worry about people coming to workplace over a call they were involved with at a Pokémon tournament. If you think doxing people over judge calls is the right play, go home and rethink your life,” Post said in a now-deleted tweet.
“This community complains about the quality of judge calls all the time. I promise no quality judge wants the pressure of breaking even taking a lead role in an event to worry about their safety and professional life following an event if a call goes sour,” he added.