League Revising Rules After Trans Players Rejected From Women’s CSGO Tournament [Update: Hoax]

League Revising Rules After Trans Players Rejected From Women’s CSGO Tournament [Update: Hoax]

UPDATE 10/5/17 5:00AM: This story seems to have been based on a hoax designed to get BuzzFeed and, by extension, other sites to publish an inaccurate news article. Sly Buehl Rigilio is quoted in a new article on Infowars saying that he and his friends posed as trans women to trick BuzzFeed “for the laughs”.

It appears, based on screenshots in the BuzzFeed story and based on comments from the ESL, that Rigilio and co really did try to enter a women’s CSGO tournament, and they did correspond with ESL. Rigilio claimed to Infowars, however, that he’s not trans, and it was all a big prank. He pointed to his team’s name as a giveaway. It’s associated with a small, troll-y YouTube channel. I should’ve noticed that red flag, but didn’t. In reporting this story, we’d taken Riglio and the ESL, who appear to also have been duped, at their word.

When this sort of prank gains widespread publicity, it makes people and organisations more likely to distrust actual trans people. By failing to adequately vet this story, I gave it more publicity. This should never have made it to our site. We should have been more sceptical in reporting this story, and I apologise to our readers for this mistake.

The original story follows…

Late last week, news broke that a women’s CSGO tournament hosted by ESL rejected a team of trans players because they couldn’t provide official documentation stating they were female. The incident was eye-opening for everybody involved.

Sly Buehl Rigilio, a transgender player who lives in Sicily, Italy, tried to register her team in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive 5on5 Female Open Summer 2017, a tournament hosted by ESL and organised by Munich Finest Gaming. As first reported by BuzzFeed, however, Rigilio’s dreams of competitive glory were cut short by a very rude awakening. Upon submitting her request to ESL, she received the following response:

“No males are allowed. Please take care fake your gender can be penalised.”

Surprised and more than a little upset that her and her team had apparently been rejected based on their appearances, Rigilio reached out to Munich Finest Gaming, who said they’d need to see passports that designated Rigilio and her teammates as female. They also said they couldn’t understand why she was so enraged about the whole thing. ESL head of communications Anna Rozwandowicz added that the two companies had to do it that way in order to comply with German law. “I completely understand the team’s frustration at the situation, but I also understand that our admins have done their jobs by following the rules as it was required of them,” she said at the time.

Pictured: Rigilio and some of her teammates. Image credit: Rigilio (via BuzzFeed).

Pictured: Rigilio and some of her teammates. Image credit: Rigilio (via BuzzFeed).

Unfortunately, Rigilio and her teammates didn’t have that kind of documentation. “Gender isn’t just as simple as what was written on your old passport, there’s more to it,” Rigilio told BuzzFeed. “Some of us have already started [hormone replacement therapy], and some others are fairly new to coming out and expressing themselves as a female. I know some of the girls in the group have yet to go through the trouble of getting their info changed on [their passports], so we are out of luck.”

In the aftermath of the incident and in light of the publicity it received, I reached out to the ESL to find out if they plan on making any changes. Rozwandowicz said that she’s now working with diversity-focused partner organisation AnyKey to revise the rules.

“We believe that esports and gaming should and can be an inclusive, and I have taken steps internally to revisit the tournament rules and to align them with AnyKey’s recommendations,” she told Kotaku. “We definitely want to make sure that this will not happen again, so I’m working with admins and AnyKey to investigate this case and advise on a policy change.”

Rigilio, however, is still pretty disappointed. “I have yet to hear anything from Munich Finest or ESL,” she told Kotaku. “No apologies, nothing of any sort whatsoever.”

A longtime gamer and Counter-Strike player, Rigilio was hoping to make a real push into the high-stakes world of competitive play. Now, though, she’s reconsidering.

“I’ve yet to compete in other tournaments, but my team and myself were initially planning on joining one of the FaceIT female-only tournaments,” she said. “But ever since we were treated the way we were with ESL, we’ve been discouraged to try and do so. We really don’t want to go through the same abuse as we did with ESL.”


  • I don’t understand how complying with the law of a country is considered abuse?

    This opens up a can of worms now, because if they revise the rules to such an extent, what is going to stop say the top team in the world turning around, claiming they are a different gender and joining that league also??

    • We aren’t

      Women are. Its some kind of special rationalization happening.

      • Male, female, who gives a rats ass: It’s a computer game. It’s e-sport. There are no physiological differences giving one gender a competitive physical advantage over the other unlike with normal sports. Why the hell do we have gender-specific categories for this in the first place?!

        • Is that really the case? If it were so given the large amount of women who play games there should be a higher percentage appearing in all esports leagues, the fact is that there is a difference in responce time and reflexes, men were not the hunters just because of physical strength, but a raft of physiological differences that appear to give an edge even in the realm of esports, and the ranked ladders of said esports show as much. I actually agree with this ruling, just as in the olympics competitors must give adequate proof of gender, the same should apply in esports. You can’t argue against the numbers.

    • Men (generally) have faster reaction times.

      But the real reason is because women want a safe space in which to train and compete where they don’t get abused and sexually denigrated for being women.

      • Nice subtle mysogyny there. These events are organised by men and not women nor do I ever see them asking to be segregated, so why are we still blaming women?

        • It’s either that or they’d rather compete as a big fish in a small pond than a potentially smaller fish in a big pond. Everyone loves a competitive advantage 🙂

  • Why are there gender specific competitions in the first place? In sports it makes sense as men and women are physiologically different, it isn’t an even playing field. But why is necessary in video game comps?

    • Probably to encourage and foster females into the sport, make it a better environment? If I was a woman I would not attend a lot of esports events as a competitor. They are male dominated and certain parts of the crowd. I can easily see a lot of booing and other horrible behaviour if a woman came out on top in something.

      • the converse to this is you have an open tournament with 1000 men and 10 women that is mildly successful, versus a women only tournament with 100 women that fails.

      • I can’t really think of a single esports community that would boo if a female does well. Hell there have been successful females in esports and they get nothing but support. They are generally considered underdogs and everyone loves to support the underdog.

    • You’re actually not meant to acknowledge any difference in physical sports. I was reading some stuff about it just recently. If someone born in the traditionally regarded male body, defines themselves as a woman. There apparently should be no barrier to them competing as a female athlete. Regardless of any other aspect, just on how they identify.
      Anyone saying “they used to be a man” and suggesting it gives them an advantage is being terrible and anti-trans because the athlete will never reach their full potential because they know if they were to win, they would be shamed and it’d be blamed on assumed gender at birth based on physical characteristics.
      Lots of things written online, they are interesting to read to see how people think.

  • Gender specific makes no sense in e-sports? I get it for physical sports but e-sports makes no sense. Although if it is a female comp i get them denying them, for other girls who’ve enterted that comp thinking it’s all female (if that matters to them for some reason) it might bother them.

  • Is there a point when transitioning that is somewhat wide recognised as the point where you have switched from one gender to another? I am not aware of anything like that, I would see it more as a transition, not a flat gender swap at some point in time.

    I can see where it gets messy though. Someone who identifies as the other gender and has changed their appearance and adopted the appropriate pronoun but has not started hormone therapy vs someone who is at the other end of that journey.

    • Yeah from what I understand that point is just when someone says they have transitioned, otherwise only those people with sufficient financial resources for hormone therapy (or even just new clothes etc) would be able to live as their preferred gender.

  • I think it’s an unfair advantage for them to participate as females when they were biologically males.

    Generally speaking, males are better at tracking fast-moving objects and discerning detail from a distance.

  • Women-only e-sports competitions exist for the same reason women-only chess tournaments exist. They’re not run to segregate on capability like physical sports, they’re run to foster and develop a stronger female demographic in an otherwise male-dominated activity.

    Given their purpose is to encourage diversity in the competitive community, rejecting transgender players does exactly the opposite. It should have been obvious from the outset that it was a stupid decision to make.’

    Then again, this is ESL we’re talking about. If there’s some way they can fuck things up, they’ll find it and do it.

    • Thank goodness for you Zombie Jesus,

      I was really afraid no-one was going to have anything sensible to say here in the comments.
      All these men screaming about women and HOW DARE THEY HAVE THEIR OWN TOURNAMENT!!! Don’t women know that everyone’s equal in every way and everything’s fine and can’t we all just get along!?!

      Hey boys! Give women some space! If you can’t even manage that I have no idea how anyone’s supposed to deal with the complex and sensitive gender issues this article is ACTUALLY addressing.

      So much tone-deafness in this comments section. I mean, I know it’s the comments section, but it is Kotaku – don’t they attract a more sensitive class of knuckle-dragging ape?

    • Bang on @zombiejesus. Thanks for restoring some hope in the comments section.

  • It definitely sucks for the team and is a sticky situation. But I think it’s a fair decision on the organiser’s side. They will have limited information to go on and having a team enter claiming a gender, where official documentation states otherwise, just means they will have just had to move on with the mountain of things they likely need to do. And have done so to try and preserve the feeling of safety the event is going for, being female only.

    They didn’t reject them because they’re trans, they were rejected because they’re officially still male. Really hope they don’t give up though, and try again if the rules change or they sort out their documentation.

    • Pretty much this.

      Whatever this competition is targeting, whether that’s female only or whatever, it’s only fair that required documentation is provided that proves they are who they say they are. If this was, say, an “Over 30” event, they would need to provide documentation proving they are over 30 years old. If they don’t, the organisers can’t verify that the entrants are adhering to the rules. If you’re joining a female only gym, who need to provide evidence that you are female.

      I really do feel for the team that got rejected but the organisers need to draw the line somewhere. A female-only competition like this is trying to foster a female community in a safe environment. If they don’t have their documentation in place to prove they are female then there isn’t much the organisers can really do about that. If the competitors had their paperwork in place this wouldn’t have happened.

      Now, an argument can definitely be made that ESL could have responded in a better way – “No males are allowed. Please take care fake your gender can be penalised.” is a pretty brutal response and could have been a bit more tactful. But I don’t see a problem with the reasoning for rejecting their application.

      Remember that Futurama episode where Bender competes in the robot olympics as a female robot (fembot) and wins the event because he doesn’t have a chance competing against the male robots? That’s the type of can of worms this could open up if it’s not handled properly.

  • I’m confused. From the article out sounds like some of the team members are only identifying as female but haven’t had any physiological changes to reflect that. Couldn’t that be used as a rort in future if they aren’t strict? Esport or normal sport aside?

    I get it some of them are part way through transition but others don’t seem to be.

    • More than likely the ESL is just mimicking how Sports handle Transitioned Transgender individuals. You do need to prove your gender has been changed through official documents to compete in your transitioned genders competitions.

        • it’s definitely going to be an sensitive issue over the next decade as the taboo of transgenderism becomes socially accepted.

  • I’m all for inclusion, but I can’t help but feel that all parties involved here carry a share of the fault.

    If I was going to run a transgender team at an event, I would have contacted organisers prior to the event to iron out these sorts of details.

    If I was the organiser, I would have had a much better line of communication happening.

    Sounds like nobody really put in the effort beyond this result.

  • I feel them asking for documentation is fair. Otherwise, what’s to stop a bored t3 men’s team claiming a different gender and carving though the traditionally weaker womans brackets?

    • What stops them from doing it is that it’s stupid enough that no tournament would ever stand for it. They’d modify the entry conditions on the spot if you tried.
      People always make this argument like it’s opening some flood gate to cheating, but even if it is we can wait for it to happen then modify the rules rather than pushing people out to make a pre-emptive stand against something that will most likely never happen.

        • Heh. I actually wrote that the exceptions are either as a joke or to make a point about transgender rights allowing cheating, but I couldn’t word it right and figured it was implied so I cut it out. Oh well.

  • We’d probably have flying cars by now if we didn’t waste so much energy on these “issues”.

    • We’d probably have flying cars by now if we didn’t waste so much energy playing computer games instead of doing something more economically productive instead.

      Oh, wait…

    • We will never have flying cars. Not in the way you’re thnking of. Not because of ‘silly issues taking up time that could be better spent on flying cars’, but because everyone would have to train as pilots, and the risk and danger of a crash is so much worse.

      All that said, we actually do have flying cars – sort of – the helicopter.

  • I came in here to go there’s a seperate female league? But I an glad that so many people piped up before me to ask or make the same statements.

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