Activision Blizzard accused of deadnaming transgender employees

Amid the ongoing lawsuit against Activision Blizzard over alleged sexual harassment, a new report claims that the company has been deadnaming transgender quality assurance (QA) staff.

The report, from Kotaku, states that the company will “almost always default to legal names,” a QA tester at a contract QA studio claimed. Apparently employees not in leadership roles can change their display name in Slack, but to change a name in another program requires the intervention of either HR or a higher-up.

These programs can also accidentally reset workers names. One trans employee, simply referred to as Andrew in the report, said “This puts us at risk of randomly being outed as transgender, which is incredibly disrespectful.”

Deadnaming is when a person who is transgender is referred to by the name used before transitioning, whether done intentionally or not.

World Of Warcraft
World Of Warcraft Shadowlands Credit: Blizzard

“HR is aware of this issue and has supposedly been talking with others to get the issue fixed, but this has been going on for [at least] a year,” Andrew added.

Andrew does note that he “received nothing but respect in regards to my gender identity” from those he works closely with. Another employee, called Billy in the report, requested that they be addressed by they/them pronouns, but their teammates, who were all men, refused.

“[One] squad member made the classic ‘joke,’ ‘I identify as an attack helicopter,’ while sitting a few seats down from me, no one said anything to correct it,” Billy said.

Overwatch. Credit: Blizzard Entertainment

Activision Blizzard does have sensitivity training sessions, but an anonymous employee told Kotaku that they do the bare minimum. An Activision Blizzard representative also told Kotaku that “Upon joining, every Activision Blizzard employee is required to take training on our Code of Conduct, which they must then review and affirm annually.”

“They must also take an Equality & Diversity (E&D) course every two years. In addition, they have access to our learning management system which has a series of DE&I training, including an inclusive hiring training which was rolled out company-wide,” the representative added.

According to the same anonymous employee above, only one Diversity, Equality & Inclusion (DE&I) session took place during their time at the company, and QA testimonials say it didn’t include the use of pronouns.

The report also highlights other issues at the company’s QA, such as pay and working hours, with Activision Blizzard telling Kotaku “compensation for QA staff varies by location, seniority, experience, and performance.”

In related news, an Activision Blizzard shareholder has called the company’s response to the lawsuit “inadequate” and said that the recent promises don’t go “nearly far enough to address the deep and widespread issues with equity, inclusion, and human capital management.”