Sources: VALORANT EMEA Game Changers event rules prevent certain marginalized genres, including non-binary people, from competing
Europe, the Middle East and Africa VALUING The Game Changers tournament will exclude certain marginalized genres, including those that identify as non-binary, from participating in the events, sources close to the tournament’s organization told Dot Esports.
Transgender women will be allowed to compete throughout the event, but the rules are a departure from the event’s North American counterpart, which includes “marginalized genders,” including non-binary people.
Earlier this year, Riot announced plans to host the Game Changers tournament series that would complement the VALUING Champions Tour and work towards a more inclusive and representative VCT of the community. But in the EMEA Game Changers rulebook under “Gender of Team Members” it says “All players on a team roster must be female. It does not include certain marginalized genres, such as those that are non-binary, genderqueer, agenres or bigender.
The decision to exclude these people was taken for “legal and security reasons,” sources said, and is likely due to anti-LGBTQ + laws that govern some of the countries where VALUING competitors call home.
Specifically, Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, each whose residents are eligible to participate in EMEA Game Changers events, all have laws that punish transgender people or other LGBTQ + identities.
These countries prohibit imitating or dressing as a member of the opposite sex, with penalties ranging from fines or imprisonment to public flogging, beatings or chemical castrations. Although laws vary from country to country, government officials in Kuwait, Oman, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have arrested or punished transgender people on several occasions over the past five years.
EMEA Game Changers events will run for three months, September 27-October 3, October 25-31, and November 15-21. men and women in competition.
The first sentence of Riot’s initial post introducing the program reads: “VCT Game Changers is a new program that will complement the competitive season by creating new opportunities and exposure for women and other marginalized genders within. VALUING esports. The post said the North American region will host its tournament first, but gives no indication that the rules will be different for each region.
The wording of the EMEA Game Changers articles is incredibly precise. The EMEA tournament announcement states that “the VCT Game Changers program aims to foster an inclusive environment for competition and create safe opportunities for women to compete without fear of gender identity or harassment.”
Marginalized genders include “transgender women, cisgender women, transgender men, non-binary individuals and all gender identities that have been systematically oppressed by those in power throughout history,” according to Women for Political Change.
The riot continued to spread VALUING in the MENA region, including opening a data center in Bahrain and building a local office in Dubai, since the game launched last year. These steps were taken to give MENA players a ‘more competitive direct connection to the VALUING waiters.”
The company has already been criticized for its ties to Saudi Arabia, most notably in July 2020 when the League European Championship in partnership with NEOM, a development of the city supported by the Saudi government. Due to the Kingdom’s laws and sanctions against LGBTQ + people, many prominent League of Legends community figures have spoken out, including some of Riot’s own broadcasters, against the partnership. It ended just hours after the partnership was announced.