Gearbox Threatens To Leave Texas Over Anti-Trans Bill

Gearbox Threatens To Leave Texas Over Anti-Trans Bill
Photo: Gearbox

During a committee hearing held yesterday in the Texas House of Representatives, Gearbox exec David Najjab testified against Texas House Bill 4042, which would force transgender athletes in public schools to compete in sports according to the gender they were assigned at birth.

“I’m a Texan,” said Najjab, who has worked as Borderlands developer Gearbox’s director of institutional partnerships since 2015. “I was born here. I know it’s a welcoming, friendly place. I want us to push that, not be making up laws we don’t need.”

Many of the day’s testimonies came from individuals who would be personally affected by TX HB4042, but Najjab focused on the ramifications the bill’s passing would have on business, both for Gearbox and the state at large. The discriminatory legislature, Najjab said, would make it harder for Gearbox to keep and recruit “the best and the brightest” to work in Texas.

“Our game company’s in competition worldwide,” Najjab added. “We sell more to Asia than we do in the United States. We bring a lot of money into this state. We’re headquartered here. Don’t drive us to where we have to start expanding outside of Texas and outside of the country. We want to keep doing business here.”

Gearbox, which is based in Frisco but also opened a studio in Quebec, Canada in 2015, is one of several businesses to sign a letter calling for Texas to update its non-discrimination laws to include the LGBTQ+ community. Other signatories include Apple, IBM Corporation, and Microsoft.

This isn’t Gearbox’s first rodeo when it comes to Texas politics. Back in 2017, CEO and magician-in-residency Randy Pitchford publicly opposed legislation that would limit people to using bathrooms in public schools and government buildings based on the gender on their birth certificates. That bill eventually failed.

“The kinds of people that are the best in the world at creating technology, at creating entertainment, these are people that do not want to live in places that are seen as discriminatory,” Pitchford said at the time, a sentiment Najjab echoed in yesterday’s testimony.

While Gearbox’s opposition to this latest anti-trans bill is certainly well-meaning (if maybe a little too fixated on the impact to its own bottom line), arguments have been made in similar situations that these kinds of boycotts only further hurt marginalised folks who are unable to just up and leave discriminatory states. It’s clear trans people in Texas have it hard enough as it is, and the disappearance of job opportunities at companies like Gearbox could only exacerbate those issues.

Trans folks are experiencing an unprecedented onslaught from right-wing politicians seeking ways to legally discriminate against their existence. Sadly, the work doesn’t stop with this one bill or even in Texas. For more information, visit the U.S. National Centre for Transgender Equality.

(h/t PinkNews)


  • It would be interesting to see one of these peoples little girl get slammed into next week in a wrestling comp by a child double their body weight who was born a male (but identifies as a female), and then see if they still feel the same way…

    I can see how some of the other bills such as the bathroom one could be argued against, but when it comes to sports, especially if this would include contact sports, I don’t see how this bill would be seen as ‘discriminatory’.

    • You mean like that actual time a transmale wrestler was forced to compete against female wrestlers because they were female at birth?

      Oh wait, you’re not talking about that, because it doesn’t help your argument, so you’re ignoring it.

      • Yeah wait, what? My point was that I think in sport, ESPECIALLY contact sports. Females competing against females and males against males makes sense. Your reply is saying that a female was competing against other females, or am I mistaken?

        I also wanna make sure you understand, I’m not having a go at you nor am I a hateful person with a hateful agenda to push. Just simply have an opinion that seems to differ to yours.

        • No, the hilarious thing is a trans female to male was forced to compete in wrestling against other females in Texas, as she was banned from competing against males.

          Obviously, with the hormone advantage, he wrecked the competition.

          • i thought taking performance enhancing drugs were frowned upon in the sporting world?

    • 1. Sport has never been fair for everyone. I am a 5’6″ CIS Asian man and there is never a chance I can become a professional female basketballer if I become a transwoman. This “fairness” you speak of never actually existed in reality.

      2. Why aren’t you using sports where weight/height/body structure is a disadvantage for CIS man? I can imagine a transwoman would have a huge disadvantage in sports such as figure skating and gymnastic where CIS women would have an advantage over a hunking transwoman that you would like the rest of us to stereotype.

      • That may be true about something like being a pro basketball player, but in a school environment with puberty running rampart on your body you (or young men) would absolutely have an advantage over the vast majority of maturing young women.

        Also, while something like height may not be effected, if you transitioned to a woman and wanted to compete in let’s say boxing or wrestling or even weightlifting, and you took the same amount of steroids as is prevelant in those sports. You would yet again have a biological advantage (statistically speaking) in terms of how your biology processes those drugs into muscle mass ( with proper training ).

        Saying “but IM short and therefore can’t be a female pro basketball player” is silly and misguided in my opinion. These sorts of discussions are about the bigger picture and biological traits that differ as a whole across all men and women, and it’s a biological fact that men have a better genetic makeup for strength related activities when you look at the bigger picture.

        Again, zero hate towards you or you point of view, simply voicing my rebuttle.

        • //but in a school environment with puberty running rampart on your body you (or young men) would absolutely have an advantage over the vast majority of maturing young women.//
          And? If an average American teenage girl moves to Japan she would tower over most of her peers and have an advantage over them. What’s your point? There are multiple ways to create advantages that are “unfair”.

          //Also, while something like height may not be effected, if you transitioned to a woman and wanted to compete in let’s say boxing…//
          You know there is a thing called weight class right?

          //Saying “but IM short and therefore can’t be a female pro basketball player” is silly and misguided in my opinion//
          So misguided that you didn’t actually come up with an argument.

          //These sorts of discussions …. strength related activities when you look at the bigger picture.//
          Not only are you ignoring my point about non-strength related sport, you are also ignoring the fact that the science on that has not been settled.

      • “1. Sport has never been fair for everyone. I am a 5’6″ CIS Asian man and there is never a chance I can become a professional female basketballer if I become a transwoman. This “fairness” you speak of never actually existed in reality.”

        So why are performance-enhancing drugs banned then? Sport has never been fair, so therefore there is no reason to ban these drugs from play then? You should have no problem with allowing these drugs if you want to be consistent.

        • //You should have no problem with allowing these drugs if you want to be consistent.//

          As long as the drugs are vigorously tested to be safe, I have no problem with that.

          Did you think you had a gotcha question? Better luck next time.

          • So you think all sports should allow doping/ Performance enhancing drugs?

            You think Lance Armstrong didn’t do anything wrong at all?

            Just want to confirm.

  • I’m a woman who plays a full contact sport, with trans women (and cis men) and it’s nowhere near the problem that many people seem to think it is. Humans come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, regardless of their gender, and assuming that cis women can’t compete fairly against trans women in sport is condescending. Allowing trans people (especially children) to participate in sport in a way that affirms their gender identity helps them enormously. I’m glad that Gearbox took this stance

      • youre a “im not racist i have black friends” type arent you? 1 woman says its alright so it must be alright for all of them? how woke of you.

      • He asked what type of full contact sport she plays and your response is “fuck you”.
        Very good job at continuing civil conversation, will definitely help your cause and allow people to understand your point of view.

        For the record that was me being condescending, just so you don’t get confused.

        • Replying to all the usual suspects above – the condescension was obvious, you can’t pretend it wasn’t.

          ‘full-contact sport’ in inverted commas is both implying that you thought Shadowlee wasn’t playing what you would count as full-contact and dismissing her view out of hand. You were being a prick, and I certainly don’t feel bad for saying as much. You’ve deserved far harsher words in the past.

        • So your response to md2d’s alleged transgression is to respond in turn even worse?

        • Yep. I am. I am 100% being a bad actor. My post should be moderated. This has been my point every time I’ve argued with you.

          You bring out the worst in everyone, and do it deliberately. You do it constantly. You’re poisoning the well with your bullshit like you always have.

          Now some of your buddies have expressed far worse, far more vile shit in this thread, and they definitely should be moderated more harshly, but you have a particular compulsion to go after other people that even if the content of your posts didn’t deserve moderation (which I obviously think it does) has always played a part in derailing and perverting what might have otherwise been good-faith discussion.

          On another note I’m surprised you’re so sensitive to a ‘fuck you’. I didn’t even say you’re a transphobe or misogynist. I implied it of course, but wow.

          @djbear I disagree with pretty much everything you have posted, but I don’t get the impression of hate or spite from you some others give me. I don’t have a quarrel with you beyond personally disagreeing with your beliefs. m2d2 was being an ass, and though I know you share similar beliefs I don’t think you should defend his behaviour. I think you know full well what he was doing and why, and pretending he was just asking what sport she plays is cowardly. You’re not dumb, so don’t play dumb.

      • I replied because I think what m2d2 wrote was gross. I think he’s a coward for trying to deny it, and I responded because I’m sick of their shit. I’ve barely looked at Kotaku this past month, in no small part because of m2d2’s shit and the lack of proactive moderation that leaves comment sections in a mess.

        As for Shadowlee I don’t know, nor care about her one way or another. I care about how this site used to be, how people used to behave on it, and how m2d2 in my eyes wouldn’t have been able to get away with a comment like that in the past. I’m not defending her, nor do I think she needs defending and I’ll definitely agree her response was much better than mine. Nonetheless I was pissed at what m2d2 did, I thought it was slimy and pathetic and I’ve had a lot of issues with their posts in the past. So I said as much.

        As for the fedora and white Knight comments – I don’t care why you think I did what I did, I did it for me. I’m not so delusional that I think I’m impressing anyone. I know I’m not the only one sick of the shit they see here, and hell I’m sure that goes for my shit too, but I told m2d2 to fuck off because I wanted too. If you want to do the same to me you’re welcome to. Clearly it’s not going to be moderated unless it’s an actual death threat, so have at it.

  • I feel pretty similar. I cant see a concrete solution. A discussion needs to be allowed to be had to find a solution, You cant just shut down any and all discussion and brand anything and everything as “Transphobic”. Trans athletes cannot compete at the expense of biological females. Something needs to be done that pleases benefits both sides.

  • Being Gearbox, they should just fuck off and leave before someone in the Texas general public stumbles across their CEO’s USB filled with questionable pornography.

  • I feel that one of the biggest problems that arise from this topic is that people only tend to think in extremes, especially bad extremes. When they hear that trans people should be able to use the bathroom prescribed by their original genitals they don’t think of the teenagers with debilitating body dysmorphia or who feel horribly out of place among other people of that sex in such a private space. Their thoughts go to the slippery slope possibility of a man pretending to be trans in order to rape little girls in female bathrooms.

    Similarly, when the topic of sports comes around, they figure that Bubba, a 200kg musclehead is going to start calling himself “Bubbette” just so he can crush every single female weightlifting competition. They don’t think for a second that bodies come in all shapes for all genders and that being born a male absolutely doesn’t guarantee an advantage over a female.

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