A screenshot showing Call of Duty's transgender bullets
A screenshot showing Call of Duty's transgender bullets

Transphobes have been absolutely losing their crap over a glitch in a video game. Call of Duty’s transgender bullets were an obvious mistake but it has served as a leaping off point for bigots to spread disinformation about transgender people.

Lets get it out of the way quick. Call of Duty’s transgender bullets are not transgender bullets at all. They barely represent a transgender flag and quite clearly look like something has gone wrong with a texture somewhere.

Call of Duty’s transgender bullets were quite obviously an error in relation to specific guns. It should just be no big deal, we make fun of the developers for the mistake, everyone gets a little chuckle. But as Bob above pointed out “they’re gonna hate this one”; they being transphobes who have used the story to help spread their anti-trans disinformation.

Any tweet or article covering Call of Duty’s transgender bullets has multiple comments suggesting things like “there’s been an uptick in violence perpetrated by transgender people”. They cite things like 5 or so recent mass shootings in America they believe were perpetrated by transgender people.

Despite numerous articles, tweets and other media debunking these arguments – they are also being spread by influential anti-trans accounts on social media too. Call of Duty’s transgender bullets are just a silly mistake but the anti-trans violence being inspired and justified through this rhetoric is definitely not.

Framing transgender people as a violent angry mob has been an incredibly powerful tool in undermining our fight for liberation across the globe. Its through that framing and the suggestion that transgender people are likely to hurt you first that violence against us is being justified.

I won’t link or show any of those comments here but they are not hard to find if you just search around for people talking about Call of Duty’s transgender bullets.

I think its cool that more and more video games are allowing gays the option to be visible online. There’s a really great video by Verily Bitchie on YouTube I always bang on about called “The Gay Button” which deals with the idea that unless you seek it out; queerness is often invisible in video games. I think these ideas apply to online games too.

For the most part queerness is invisible in online games. Gamers – myself included – aren’t really thinking about the person on the other end of the screen when we play. In Rocket League I’m not sitting there thinking “I wonder if this person is gay” even when their goal song is Montero by Lil Nas X or Fly Like A Phoenix by Conchita Wurst. I’m thinking “I can’t believe they scored again, my team suck.”

That’s why I think Pride flags in particular are important inclusions in online video games. There’s no mistaking that you’re gay when you’re flying the Pride flag and many homophobic Rocket League losers have confirmed this to me before getting reported! Sure its a bit trite, sure its a bit cringe – but I think its important that other gamers don’t get to just pretend like we don’t exist. Because we do, and we play video games too.

So despite the error resulting in Call of Duty’s transgender bullets I do commend the devs for doing this. I hope that there isn’t any kind of option for other players to turn them off and that they properly enforce griefing policies should any homophobes begin to target queer players for making themselves visible in video games.

I’d also like to see more games make the effort. I get that there are limitations on including queerness in video games but there’s no reason Phasmophobia couldn’t have a room with a Pride flag in it or for Helldivers 2’s universe to invent its own “Super Pride” and have some good in-game lore about that. There are so many cool ways video games could make queerness not invisible in their worlds without having to give me an emote that lets me eat pussy under a Bile Titan.

The bigots can piss and moan, they can invent whatever conspiracy theories and spread whatever disinformation. But queers shouldn’t have to go invisible to pander to them in online video games. More gay flags. More gay emotes. More gay visibility.

ps Call of Duty’s transgender bullets would’ve looked kinda rad if the flag had been aligned right.