One of Bungie's core values is wanting everyone to feel that their identity is welcome. This goes for both players feeling welcome in our games, and employees feeling welcome in our studio. It means evaluating our communication, listening and learning to different viewpoints, and amplifying underrepresented voices. While this is not a problem that can be solved overnight, it is an ongoing effort for Bungie employees throughout the company. Last year, we shared some of the work done by Bungie's first Inclusion Club, Black at Bungie. And today, on International Transgender Day of Visibility, we'd like to share the efforts of another Bungie Inclusion Club, Trans at Bungie.
While the Bungie Diversity Committee works to improve Bungie in general matters of diversity and inclusion, Inclusion Clubs are employee-led groups empowered to make more targeted efforts. They provide employees in underrepresented groups resources and time to improve both Bungie and Destiny by bringing their unique perspective to the table. Trans at Bungie was created to connect trans and non-binary individuals, and those who wish to reach out as supportive allies.
David Setser, an engineer working on Destiny's UI, is a founding member of Trans at Bungie and the current lead for the club. "When I first started to explore my gender identity, I was mostly alone," Setser said. "Figuring it out and making the changes I needed felt like trying to take on a raid all by myself. We founded Trans at Bungie to provide that support to our trans peers. Issues like navigating healthcare, advocating for representation, and getting through the repeated and never-ending conversations of coming out are challenges no one should have to face without a fireteam by their side."
"I remember how awkward it was coming out as trans/non-binary at my last company, where I was the first and only openly gender-nonconforming individual at the time," said Ash Adam, an engineer on the Publishing Development team. "I had to explain pronouns and gender theory many times, often to the same persons. It was draining and sometimes difficult to feel respected as I was going through transition. When I joined Bungie, I was ecstatic to find out there's a club of employees who are familiar with the challenges, and who can help educate managers and coworkers so the burden wouldn't be entirely my own."
In addition to providing support, Trans at Bungie has engaged in multiple conversations about improving the environment at Bungie. These range from conversations about healthcare options to vetting plans for the studio remodel. Regarding this work, Adam added: "On top of the social stresses of transitioning while working, there's also the chaos of trying to figure out what your insurance will and won't cover, and what procedures and therapies are right for you. When I came out, those were all big question marks for me, but I'm hopeful that if someone at Bungie finds themselves questioning their identity, they can lean on our club for guidance."
Setser explained that Trans at Bungie doesn't only have plans to work on internal matters. "First, helping everyone do their best work regardless of their gender or lack thereof translates to a better game. We've worked on features players use every day and content that makes the game great, even if they aren't related to gender." Trans employees have contributed to a variety of player-facing elements, including quest notification improvements, activity design, and even many of the landscapes and worlds players run around in.
Setser continues, "We're in discussions with several teams about improving Destiny's handling of gender, and while I can't reveal anything specific, I can say I'm very excited. We've had a very positive response from other teams during these conversations. It's going to take time, but I can't wait to see some of these ideas make it into the game to help our trans, non-binary, and gender non-conforming players feel more welcome in Destiny."
From a community perspective, the Club intends to coordinate with other employees in the broader LGBTQ+ community for Bungie's celebration of Pride this June. They also say they have plans beyond that for later in the year. "One thing I can reveal is that we'll be introducing a new trans-themed emblem later this year to celebrate Transgender Awareness Week in November," Setser shared. "We're still working out the details, but it will be linked to the existing Pride pin in some way, and as with other similar offers, the profits will go to an appropriate charity. In the meantime, to all our trans Guardians out there, we see you, and we've got your back."
From all of us here at Bungie, happy Trans Day of Visibility!
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