Gaming giant EA U-turns on trans rights after staff backlash: ‘Trans rights are human rights’

Gaming giant Electronic Arts (EA) has issued a statement in support of the trans community after previously telling staff that it would not publicly defend trans rights in a company-wide meeting.

The gaming publication Kotaku reported last month that it had seen and verified a transcript of a town hall meeting held on 24 May, which allowed employees to raise issues with senior management.

Employees had called on EA, the video game publisher behind FIFA and The Sims, to make a public statement on the leaked Supreme Court draft opinion which showed that the court is poised to strip constitutional abortion rights from US citizens, and on the wave of anti-trans legislation sweeping America, specifically legislation in Texas which classes gender-affirming healthcare for trans kids as “child abuse”.

But according to the transcript, and despite publicly supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 following the murder of George Floyd, staff were told that “being an inclusive company means being inclusive of all those points of view”.

Chief people officer Mala Singh reportedly said: “The thing about the world today is there is a lot of division, we know this right, we see it every single day, but the thing that unites us is that we’re all here to make amazing games and experiences for our players, and that is how we have the most positive impact on the world.

“These things are hard and they’re personal and we all have our own perspectives and sometimes we won’t speak, and that will be upsetting and I understand that, we really do.”

Days after furious EA employees threatened a walk-out over the company’s lack of participation in Pride Month, Singh shared a statement to highlight their “unwavering” support for the LGBTQ+ community.

In my comments last week, I never intended to imply that we were stepping back from our long-standing support of LGBTQ+ rights,” she said.

“But I understand that’s how it landed for members of this community.

“As a company, we are united that trans rights are human rights. Women’s rights are human rights. Our support is unwavering for our people, our players, and our LGBTQ+ communities.”

She acknowledged the “pain and fear that our LGBTQ+, specifically our transgender community, is experiencing in light of emerging legislation in the US and the ongoing attacks on their human rights”, and vowed to focus on “promoting equality” at EA.

As part of EA’s Pride month plans, Singh explained that the company would be donating to LGBTQ+ organisations such as ACLU, GLAAD, the Human Rights Campaign, the National Center for Transgender Equality, and Out and Equal, all of which the company has “teamed up“ with during the past five years. 

“By inspiring the world to play, we create the experiences that reflect the diversity around us and the inclusive society we hope to see today and in the future” she concluded.