on language

Microsoft’s Xbox Live Will Let Gamers Identify As ‘Gay’ and ‘Transgender.’ But Not ‘Queer’


When we learned last week that Microsoft would update its Xbox Live policies to let gamers identify their sexual orientation in their profiles without it being considered offensive, we were thrilled: Finally, after months (years?) of criticism of its rules that attempted to crack down on harassment (but had the adverse effect of refusing a little personal expression), Microsoft was taking the hint. Maybe we should’ve read the find print.

Xbox Live’s revised Code of Conduct says:

You may use the following terms to express your relationship orientation in your profile or Gamertag:


Other terms regarding relationship orientation are not allowed. In addition you may not use these terms or any other terms regarding relationship orientation to insult, harass, or any other pejorative use against other users.

Haha. Know what that means? No “queer,” “questioning,” “intersex,” or even “pansexual.” And in one fell swoop, Microsoft lances lengthy, out of control acronyms like LGBTQIPXXX9390239B.

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  • Law

    The fact that this site embraces the word “queer” is in and of itself problematic. The word “queer” means ‘abnormal, deranged.’ It is a patently offensive, subversive, and dehumanizing term that only a small fraction of our community has tried to “reclaim.” Word reclamation does not work though. All it does is imply to others outside our community that it is an acceptable adjective to describe other human beings – which it is not. University’s that offer “queer studies” as opposed to “LGBT” should revoke their status in academia. You lose your claim to enlightenment when you contribute to the oppression you study. Words are rarely just words and “queer” is one that should go back to only meaning its original definition.

  • j

    @Law: Completely agree and was just about to make this post. I think its a good thing that people aren’t given the option to “identify” as queer. If they allowed people to “indentify” as nigger there would be an absolute uproar.

  • ktbisl32

    I’m just going to say, that’s the opinion I would expect from the old school. My university offers (and I have taken classes in) queer studies. Identifying as queer or with the queer movement is about post-structuralism and embracing a certain philosophy as much as it’s about sexuality. It’s an all inclusive term that more or less allows one to identify their sexuality further on an individual basis and more than that allows anyone who feels they do not fit in with the majority (be it racial minorities, people with disabilities, or straight-gay-friendly allies) to be included in that group. The term itself is irrelevant other than it being a part of linguistic reclamation.

  • Danika

    To the other commenters, I love “queer”. It’s all-embracing, and means we don’t accidentally leave anyone out (things like GLBTQQAA seem to spiral out of control, especially when there’s a perfectly good word to encompass all of them). Just because it /was/ offensive doesn’t mean it has to always be offensive. Reclaiming words is a good thing. Does that mean I’m not allowed to identify as a dyke, either?

    But mostly, I wanted to say: err, transgender isn’t a relationship orientation. Fail. Sexuality =/= gender orientation. I’m not saying that there shouldn’t be somewhere where you can identify as transgender, but putting it in relationship orientation is wrong.

  • Jsmith

    @ktbisl32: I couldn’t have said it better.

  • sam

    I understand why people even in academia dislike the word queer. No matter how many times I hear it used in a positive way, I’m still not going to use it. Just like no matter how many times I hear the N word – rather Nigga instead of Nigger – used in rap songs, which I happen to listen to, I’m not going to use it when I speak to others.

    Just because words like Queer and the N word are being reclaimed by minority groups who were once hurt by it, or just because Universities offer courses on it, doesn’t mean I should follow suit. If someone like me is iffy about those words, can you imagine a homophobic person? No matter how often words are taken back and used positively, those who use it negatively will never go away. But I understand by Queer studies is offered. I’m going with LGBTQI. :)

  • Yuki

    I’m not quite sure why they don’t allow “pansexual” (unless they simply didn’t think of it when they decided what to allow and what to ban), but I’m perfectly fine with “queer”. I don’t like the sound of the word, and it’s used far too often as an insult as it is. I personally don’t like the idea of “reclaiming” an insulting word as something to identify by; say “yeah, I am. so?” and that’s it, in my opinion, but don’t claim to be it.

  • Law

    1. strange or odd from a conventional viewpoint; unusually different; singular: a queer notion of justice.
    2. of a questionable nature or character; suspicious; shady: Something queer about the language of the prospectus kept investors away.
    3. not feeling physically right or well; giddy, faint, or qualmish: to feel queer.
    4. mentally unbalanced or deranged.
    5. Slang. bad, worthless, or counterfeit.

    The definition of “queer” … this is what the word means, you can go call an apple an orange all you want, but it’s still an apple.

  • Danika

    The meanings of words change. Language is not a static thing. It’s bizarre for me, because I’m nineteen, and I have grown up with queer as a positive word. You may always associate it with an insult, but it doesn’t mean it’s going to stay that way. I don’t at all.

    Personally, I find “homosexual” has been used more as an insult than “queer” has. If there’s one word that’s been used as a subtle insult over and over in the mass media, it’s “homosexual”. Besides, why exactly are we reserving a word just for insults? That just gives the insult more power.

  • Hyhybt

    The last time I heard someone in person use the word ‘queer’ as an insult wasabout 20 years ago: my stepbrother describing one of his classmates as “queer as a football bat.” (I actually like the phrase; much better than “three dollar bill.” And he was wrong.)

    This particular site *has* to approve of the word, though. Or change its name, and aside from the usual benefits of name recognition, the pun is simply too good to abandon.

Comments are closed.