Should Gamespot Censor Comments Against Transgender Reviewer Carolyn Petit?

Yesterday, Kotaku mentioned that Carolyn Petit, associate editor of Gamespot, released some of her very first video reviews. She’s a really great reviewer with her fair share of fans. Sadly, she has gotten some flack for her transgender identity from the site’s commenter trolls. They compared her to Jay, the long-haired stoner from Silent Bob and Jay Strike Back and said things like “it’s a ‘she’, I think.” Gamespot has censored most of the worst comments, but should they have?

Here’s a doozy of a hateful comment Kotaku snagged from airwalker2000 shortly before Gamespot‘s moderators deleted it:

“I have no problem with the reviewer personally, but I dont want to see what is obviously a man, trying to look like a woman, its just too weird and I find it offensive, I dont want to be bombarded with gay/lesbian/transgender stuff on a gaming website, just have a regular guy or woman reviewing the games.”

Though gamers get a bad rap for verbally bashing queer-identified players, the gaming industry itself has made great steps towards acknowledging gay players and characters. The role-playing game Fable III lets you get gay-married and adopt kids, Heroes of Newerth includes “flamboyant voices” for characters to use, and Dragon Age 2 even has some boom-chicka-wow-wow action that angered some of its more close-minded players.

So Gamespot has made a further step in the right direction by letting the most qualified reviewers publicly represent their site. But they have also taken the pains to censor the commenters like airwalker2000 who rail against Ms. Petit’s transgender identity, leaving only the supportive comments in their place. Censorship or a smart way to keep the conversation on track?

Gamespot commenter SauhlGood wonders if overprotective censorship actually hurts Ms. Petit:

@skelom well its a touchy subject, most of us know she is a real person with two eyes, a nose, etc.. that bleeds just like everyone else…some people here are just judgemental intolerant and prolly afraid.. Still Gamespot shouldnt censor the morons here its truly a discredit, it comes off disingenous, as she should be treated normal, but your overprotecting/overmoderation sends out the opposite msg. let the intolerant speak their minds…

There’s something about allowing the haters to hang themselves with their own words and letting other commenters see the sort hate lobbed at trans people so they can understand why we need to stand against it. But fellow commenter WhataName2 thinks that allowing such hateful comments ultimately ruin the site’s community rather than build it:

@ SauhlGood. I agree with your sentiment, but there has to be some sensoring. This is a gaming web site, and ppl who come to it do so because they want to relax and enjoy themsleves. They should not have to put up with crap that is wrong outside of that and that takes away their experience. Although I think your right that people should be able to speak their minds.

We get our own share of anti-queer trolls here and we support Gamespot‘s moderation. After all, comment boards seek to further conversation about the topic at hand, not to foster personal attacks against the writers themselves. When someone repeats the same bigoted crap we’ve already heard devoid of any thought, it adds nothing. By censoring such comments, Gamespot makes sure that the conversation stays focused on what really matters—the games.

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  • Juha

    I think it’s not ok to just delete “wrong” comments. They should instead hide the message and leave the title with comment “Message was hidden due to uninteresting content” or something and a button to show the message

  • Kevzin

    I Run a Gaymers site and we get are far share of haters
    I don’t believe in censoring but sometimes you just have to stop it people hate us and think we should not like to videogames I think Gamespot is doing the right thing. Carolyn Petit is brave and so is Gamespot for trying to stop the hate there is no place for it

  • Jennifer Stautzenberger

    I Think she did a good job reviewing this game and those comments that are disrespectful should be deleted and those leaving the comment should be blocked from posting until they realize that there is no reason to be childish and disrespectful because you don’t understand something. I am a woman of transgender experience and I work for the state of Texas. We are people and we know who we are and deserve the respect that anyone else would receive. We are just as “normal” as any other man or woman and should be treated as such. I am proud of her and because of her review, even though I don’t like these type of games,I would play this game because Carolyn Petit makes it appealing. She should continue reviewing games and don’t let those gamers who are disrespectful cause gamespot to discriminate because of the comments. Making long story short, yes gamespot should censer the comments.

  • Tommy

    Of course! And Queerty should continue to censor comments from any dissenting views it dislikes! And the westboro baptist church should as well! What a marvelous world we now live in, where we no longer have to tolerate the words of those who disagree with us!

  • Chris

    Tommmy, it’s not exactly censoring the views of those who they disagree with, is it? It’s censoring comments that are expressed in a manner calculated to hurt, which add nothing else to the conversation.

    Censoring a post which can be basically reduced to ‘I think you’re weird and shouldn’t be allowed out in public’ is not censoring comments from any views that are disliked, or failing to tolerate the words of those who disagree – there’s no coherent opposing view there, just an insult. I guess the policy could be extended, but the slippery slope argument seems a little strained…

  • Daniel

    @Tommy: I think I agree more with Juha’s idea. There is value in dissent, but if someone’s just hating without any point (ie. “Die faggots die!”) what is the worth in letting such comments stand? None.

  • Camys

    @Chris: I believe the comments shoudl be deleted for one simple reason: it´s not about gaming AT ALL. It´s a gaming website, a game review, it should talk about games, period. The identity of the reviewer has nothing to do with it.

  • hyhybt

    @Tommy: Without *some* level of moderation, useful conversation becomes impossible.

  • Joe

    I don’t think censoring is necessary, I understand and don’t fault the impulse but such comments can be an opportunity. When the Westboro Baptist Church came to my area, I wanted to know, I wanted them to have press so I could be aware of their presence and react to it. We gathered together and did a counter-protest at Elizabeth Edward’s funeral that was positive and empowering.

    We could take antibiotics and purge out this evil bacteria, but we also destroy our good bacteria, NOT the people that return the offensive behavior but the ones who respond with restraint, understanding, and logical reasoning and compassion. I think Queerty is smart for choosing to highlight good/funny/well-written comments because it sets up a reward system for good commenting.

    We can just erase the dumb-ass crap that gets produced or we can let someone thoughtfully respond to it. As readers we can learn to say “friend speaks my mind” when your reaction to that dumbassery is already vocalized so that the majority of comments are still on the article and not the offense. We can see the offense and add our own positivity. With the case of Carolyn, she knows when something offense is posted about her, even if its deleted, I’m sure. But if the post is deleted, what she might not find out is all the supportive reactions others might have had. If the WBC is given zero press when they announce they will attend the wedding of this gay couple or the funeral of this soldier, then there might not be a line of counter-protesters there to stand between them and the targets of their hate.

    The best advice my father ever gave me was when I was in middle school and crying about bullies. He looked at me and said “Joe, no matter what you do or where you go, there will always, ALWAYS be an asshole. Sometimes its just one, sometimes its all of them, but your only job is to figure out how your going to cope and keep them from ruining your happiness.” Those assholes are going anywhere, rather than ignore them, lets learn to cope.

  • Juha

    Deleting comments because of one thing leads to deleting comments because other things as well.. In the end all we get is comments saying it’s ok game

  • hyhybt

    Not necessarily. It depends on the rules. Declare that all comments must be on-topic. The topic of a game review thread includes discussing the game, the accuracy of the review, etc., NOT the personal characteristics of the reviewer.

  • Camys

    @Joe: But that´s the thing: it´s not a discussion board about transgender people, it´s a discussing board about GAMES. Carolyn Petit´s gender identity has nothing to do with her reviewer status. By letting the discussion turn from “is the game good?” to her identity, you´re implying that it matters for the job if Carolyn is a transgender or not.

    Gay or straight, boy or girl, Carolyn is reviewing games. We should let her do just that. All the other stuff SHOULDN´T and DON´T matter.

  • Juha

    I ahouldn’t have commented in the first place it seems..

  • Scott

    Yes, personal attacks should not be tolerated. There is almost no other minority group where this would be a question. If someone said I just want white male reviewers along with why Asian, woman or older person-written reviews were “less than” it would not be ok.

  • Ashlee Kelly

    Whilst I believe in freedom of speech, posting on a website means that you should abide by certain rules. Posting hateful messages alienates the community that the comments are aimed at, and why I have a problem with joining gaming commmunities. So for the hateful comments being censored, I 100% agree.

    What if she was black, and people were attacking her because of her race? There would be no debate whatsoever against censorship. I see no difference with if hte debate is on gender identity or sexual orientation.

  • Juha

    @Ashlee Kelly
    What if the comment was a comment in general?
    We don’t know that.
    No matter if it’s from he/she or she/he
    We’re talking about a human, not a protected species

  • Jeffree

    Like @hyhybt & @Camys said, those comments derail the thread. It’s not just a matter of agree vs disagree, it’s keeping comments relevant to the subject. Same goes for “concern trolls” and “traffic trolls” who post regardless of topic to drum up support for a pet cause or direct traffic to their own site.

    If you don’t agree with Carolyn Petit’s review, that’s fair game, but her gender identity is out of bounds.

  • hyhybt

    @Ashlee Kelly: Freedom of speech is a wonderful principle. But it only restricts *the government.* There is no freedom of speech on someone else’s website.

  • izizcz

    That comment in the article is not hateful, it’s the truth. It’s distracting and I personally would have said its condescending because as this article liberally used the pronoun “she”, and you know darn well that is not a woman.

  • DavyJones

    Trolls are ‘censored’ for all types of disruptions on Gamespot; these trolls shouldn’t (and in fact aren’t) be treated any differently

  • Mike

    They should just have a zero tolerance policy for comments about the reviewer instead of the review, supportive or otherwise. I wouldn’t even consider that censorship.

  • hyhybt

    @Mike: I’d limit that a bit more (or, looked at the other way, be a bit less restrictive than your wording suggests.) For example, it’s perfectly fair to point out that reviewer X always gives Y-type games a bad score, or something along those lines, but it could certainly be taken as a comment “about the reviewer.”

  • Gigi

    @Juha: No, you should have commented. By the same token, we should be allowed to give our opinion as well. On a gaming site where the commenters are making transphobic comments about one of the reviewers I feel that they’re within their rights to delete the offensive remark. I think the problem you’re having is the “censorship” aspect of it. This isn’t YouTube we’re talking about, it’s a gaming site & this is her place of work. The moderators are simply protecting her from harassment at her place of work. Something that every employer should do. Should do but don’t (have to). There are at least 30 states in the U.S. that don’t have any legal protections for the LGBT community. They can choose not to hire us because we’re queer & they can fire us later if they find out we’re queer after being hired. Deleting a few disgusting quotes from trolls that have nothing to do with the topic at hand is the least of our worries. Contrary to what some have opined, there is no slippery slope here.

  • Gigi

    @izizcz: Lol. Troll! Are you trying to get deleted? Are you bffs with Porno Pete?

  • Joe

    @Camys: I can’t argue with that, but I still believe it better to allow the comment and one or two reactions and move along, and get back to the main discussion. It is absolutely wrong to allow the discussion to turn into a debate about the reviewer.

  • C C P

    It’s not censorship, people. It’s moderation of blatant and disgusting transphobia. You wouldn’t be calling it censorship if airwalker2000 had instead said something racist like: “I have no problem with the reviewer personally, but I dont want to see what is obviously a black person, trying to act white, its just too weird and I find it offensive, I dont want to be bombarded with civil rights issues on a gaming website, just have a white guy or woman reviewing the games.”

  • Juha

    Just bluntly hiding hate comments makes the haters to hate more.
    And when I post something online and someone hates it because I’m male, white and from Scandinavian region, so be it. I wouldn’t want it to be deleted.
    In my opinion a post should be deleted when it says something like “die, bitch” not when it says “I don’t like this because tou’re what you are”
    I apologize for repeting my first comment..

  • Mykell

    Gamespot should treat transphobic remarks the same way they treat racist, sexist, etc. remarks. I believe they remove hate speech on their comments, so anti-trans hate speech should be no different.

  • Mike

    @Juha: Onko sinulla ongelmia Carolyn Petit koska hän on transsukupuolisten?

    (I used the translator to put it from Swedish, som jag talar, to Finnish. Tyvärr för misstag.)

  • Juha

    @Mike: Unfortunately I have nothing against people, even trans. I just don’t like posts being hidden under any pretence..

  • Juha

    Sorry,deleted. To hide is OK

  • Juha

    @Mike: Oh and it’s unpolite to use other languages beside english in posts such as this. Not to mention Google translator doesn’t work so well with languages such as finnish

  • Gigi

    @Juha: Okay. You’ve made your point. Time to move on.

  • Juha

    Just delete my posts, goes with the topic..

  • Mike

    @Juha: I figured it would be more impolite to speak to a Finn in Swedish, and I wanted to make sure 100% you understood my question. ;)

  • Juha

    @Mike: Then you shouldn’t have used google translator, it being what it is :)
    Not to mention jag kan senska

  • missanhrope

    When your post is rejected from a privately owned forum or website, it isn’t “censorship”, which is prohibition of speech by the government. People are not entitled to post hate speech on people’s websites, if they want to establish their own websites to publish transphobic rants, then they are free to do so.

    People have no right to demand that GameSpot publish whatever drivel they happen to spew.

  • Xtincta

    I’m more upset that in 2011 people still don’t have a clear understanding of freedom of speech.

  • Valerie M

    What I don’t get is the way that sites like that constantly publish all manner of misogynistic content and no one bats an eyelash, but the minute it’s even mildly directed towards a male minstrelizing women (women are an oppressed class, remember?), suddenly it’s a problem.

  • hyhybt

    “A male minstrelizing women?” Really?

  • Camys

    @Valerie M: As a fierce feminist, a lesbian and a fierce LGBTT rights defender, I think your comment is all kinds of offensive. Carolyn Petit and other M-to-F transgenders ARE women, like you and me. They ARE oppressed, like you and me. I dare say even more, ´cause not only they are women, but assholes believe they chose to become a women, like they walked down their male pedestal to lower themselves to the woman kind.

    You may be right when you say that misogynistic content in web boards is out and about and no one does shit about that, that´s true. The gaming community is extremely sexist, but there´s no reason why I should refrain myself from fighting for Carolyn´s rights because “blah blah blah I´m a real woman, I suffer more than you do”. I believe in fighting against all kinds of discrimination. At the same time. Especially because homophobia, transphobia, lesphobia and sexism all have the same roots.

  • Jay

    Bottom line is; Carolyn/Michelle/Micha/Carl Petit he/she is a FREAK. It’s distracting to watch an obvious transgender do a review without focusing on the freakish nature of the reviewer. It would be no different than the reviewer wearing heavy make-up in a Halloween costume doing the review, the human eye will naturally be distracted from the purpose of the review; the GAME.

  • Cynthia

    @Jay: Really? I’m trans, I’m a gamer, I’m also concerned with THE GAME, NOT the person reviewing it. Watch the screenshots, not the talking head, if it really bothers you that much. I’m a human being; I deserve attention and respect as much as any other. Also, what kind of insensitive, close-minded, self-absorbed person refers to a transwoman as “he/she” anyways?!!! You. Are. An. Insignificant. Insect.

  • Dominatrix


    You’re a “trans”? congrats, you consist of about .0002% of the population on planet Earth. Your vote COUNTS. Before it was Cynthia, was it…Cyrus?

    By the way, your last “sentence” of “You. Are. An. Insignificant. Insect.” <–Periods are not needed after each word, the space bar will suffice.

  • Jordan Owen

    Caroline is one of my favorite commentators on Gamespot and I’m glad they have her out front. Things have come a long way. As for removing troll comments, absolutely do it. Its not censorship. Censorship is when the government takes your right of speech. Private citizens have the right to allow or disallow whatever comments they want in spaces they control. Because my favorite author (Harlan Ellison) is Jewish and I have a playlist of videos of him on my youtube channel (, I get all kinds of anti-Semitic garbage. I don’t leave it up for a second.

  • Naota Chanel

    What’s offensive – is being lied to.

    It offends me when a gaming website tells me their reviewer is a woman, when the reviewer is actually a man.

    Dishonesty is offensive. If you don’t want to be offended by “hateful” comments, you shouldn’t offend your audience by lying to them.

    It works both ways.

  • Jordan Owen

    @Naota Chanel:

    What about commentators who go on camera with dyed hair or stand closer to the camera to appear taller? Is that dishonesty a problem for you? Why is a person’s gender so important to you that you feel lied to if they don’t represent it in a way you approve of? I can’t tell by your name if you’re a woman but if you are is dishonesty really the issue here or are you just one of those tray sphinx women that gets butthurt whenever you see a man encroaching on the sacred territory of your divine womanhood?

  • Jordan Owen

    If “tray sphinx” in my last comment could be changed to “transphobic” I would appreciate it. Damn you auto correct!

  • Dan

    I just find it funny to see a queer review a game. I guess the man part of him is the gamer and the «chick» wannabe part is the… uhm.. I don’t know what it is because frankly he’s the fugliest cross dresser I’ve ever seen in my 48 years.

  • Stanlee

    @C C P: It’s always convenient to just assume that people who are offended by cross-dressing are just afraid of it. “You claim to have a legitimate reason to dislike it and find it disturbing? Don’t worry, you just have a made-up phobia. You’re the one who’s psychologically disturbed.” How do you expect to have any meaningful dialog when you marginalize people with whom you disagree? But then again, I’ve never seen your side attempt at meaningful dialog.

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