On International Transgender Day of Visibility in March this year, Destiny developer Bungie revealed their Trans@Bungie employee group.
“One of Bungie’s core values is wanting everyone to feel that their identity is welcome,” reads the blog post introducing the group. “This goes for both players feeling welcome in our games, and employees feeling welcome in our studio.”
Diversity and inclusion is a priority for Bungie – as it is for other gaming companies too, like Xbox and Nintendo – but having a specific group for trans employees is a major way for Bungie to support the community.
“A big reason the club was founded includes the workplace challenges trans people face like healthcare coverage, policies around name or picture changes, and social issues like bias or harassment,” said a spokesperson from the Bungie group. “Representation and ensuring our games are welcoming to trans people is also a big reason.”
The group consists of Bungie employees from across the company and at many levels of seniority. Allies are also welcome and members aren’t asked “to identify themselves as trans or an ally, as this can be a blurry line, especially for people who are questioning their gender.”
The main aim of the group is “to uplift trans and questioning people among Bungie employees, our players, and our industry peers”, with trans used as an umbrella term for nonbinary people, gender non-conforming people, and other similar communities.
Much of this work revolves around workplace support, such as improving policies, making facilities available, providing resources, and educating the workforce on trans issues to ensure Bungie is a welcoming community for all.
Inclusion clubs can be an invaluable resource “that can be called upon when there are questions or issues involving relevant communities so that they can be resolved in the best way possible”.
A supportive community at Bungie
David Setser, a UI engineer at Bungie and founding member of the group, also notes the importance of a supportive community.
“One thing that really surprised me is how big of a difference it makes to have a group that’s explicitly for trans people, questioning people, and allies who specifically want to be involved with our community,” says Setser.
“Being more connected to others who are facing or have faced similar challenges is very empowering. So much of what has made being gay, trans, and nonbinary difficult has been feeling alone.
“When I moved to Washington from Utah, I was able to make more friends in the LGBT+ community, which helped a lot. However, it wasn’t until I started Trans@Bungie that I felt connected to others like me in a professional environment, too. Even though things like policy changes or game features take a very long time to see results, that connection was an immediate improvement for me.”
The impact of the group goes beyond employees, though. They’re also concerned with external communication, as well as representation within their games.
No details have been shared yet, but the group spokesperson did tell PinkNews that “there are multiple conversations with various teams around Destiny about how we can improve our systems to make Destiny a more welcoming place for our trans players. All of the teams we’ve talked with have been enthusiastic about working with us, and some even reached out to us first.”
We’ll have to wait and see how this manifests in-game, but it’s clear that having a specific trans group at Bungie is having a major effect on representation both within the company – and for players.
Other developers should certainly take note.