News Ticker

Gender, Transphobia, and the Gaming Community

With the recent news about Caitlyn Jenner’s debut on the cover of Vanity Fair saturating the media, I felt it necessary to talk about something else that I feel did not get enough media attention.

Rachel Bryk.  If that name is known to you, then you most likely follow either gaming news, gender identity news, or both.  On Monday, May 18th, the body of Ms. Bryk, who was a game developer & transgendered woman, was recovered by the NY Port Authority.  This was three weeks after she had jumped to her death from the George Washington Bridge.

On top of suffering from rheumatoid arthritis and fibromyalgia, Ms. Bryk had reportedly been the victim of cyber-bullying & transphobia in the weeks leading up to her suicide.  It was discovered that she had been heckled many times, and at some points even had cyber bullies goading her to kill herself.  One of these anonymous bullies is quoted as having written, “DO IT, if you’re such a weak willed thin skinned dipshit then fucking do it”.  She ultimately did.  On Thursday, April 23rd, drivers on the GW bridge reported seeing a “slight figure with bright pink hair” remove her shoes, climb over the guardrail, and jump.

Ms. Bryk’s mother, Lisa Bryk, posted a picture of her daughter, and an article about the suicide on her Facebook in the days following, with the text, “Next time you think it’s funny to make fun of someone transgender think about who you’re hurting”.  She makes a very valid point.  Those who choose to bully someone because of their gender, gender identity, disability, race, age, etc., need to be made aware of the consequences of their actions.  It’s never acceptable to play with anyone’s life for one’s own amusement, and in fact, there are certain states in which bullies, (cyber or otherwise) whose actions lead to the victim committing suicide, can be charged with a felony.

Rachel Bryk was an accomplished game developer.  She was widely known for her work on the Nintendo Gamecube & the Wii, had been one of the most prominent developers on a project called ‘Dolphin’, and had worked on the WiiWare game, ‘Pucca’s Kisses’.  On a commemorative page posted by her team on ‘Dolphin’, Ms. Bryk is lauded by her co-workers.  “She often would do a lot of the drudge work that no one else would do and attempt features that no one else had time to work on”, and “Without her dedicated work, it’s very likely that Wiimote TASing would not have become stable enough for general usage as it is now”, are just some of the things that her team had to say about this talented young woman.  She was also the 10th most active contributor on the Dolphin forums, always being there to assist users.

The hearts of the PCU crew go out to Ms. Bryk’s family, and also to all of the families of those affected by these heinous acts.

by Doug Toyryla

About Doug T. (491 Articles)
A lifelong gamer, disabilities advocate, avowed geek, and serious foodie. Doug was born in South America, currently resides in Northern VA, and spends the majority of his time indulging in his current passions of gaming & food, while making sure not to take life or himself too seriously.
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