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Teen Pokémon player booted from tournament after laughing at pronoun question

A Pokémon Trading Card Game player was allegedly disqualified from a tournament after letting out a nervous laugh after being asked his pronouns by a judge.

Teenager Makani Tran detailed his disqualification from a Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) tournament in Charlotte after appearing to laugh after being asked his pronouns by a judge.

According to Tran’s account on social media, he appeared to have made the judge of the sixth round uncomfortable after giving an awkward laugh upon being asked his pronouns.

"On our way over to the stream area the judge asked us for our preferred pronouns. I said ‘Um he or him or uh’ and I paused trying to think of the third pronoun (the third pronoun being his). As I just stood there looking stupid trying to think of the third pronoun I felt embarrassed because I was failing to think of a simple word. Due to the nerves and me being embarrassed I let out a little laugh just a normal nervous laugh. My response together ended up being ‘Um he or him or uhhhh haha his,’" Tran recounted.

He also described a follow-up situation where the judge once again asked him and his fellow player Alex Schemanske for their pronouns. Tran admitted that he laughed at the end of his answer once again because of his nerves. 


"The little laugh at the end was because I was trying not to be awkward and because I was just stating the exact thing Alex had just stated, and it was kind of silly to me in that scenario," Tran wrote.

The judge apparently responded, "Okay just wanted to check to be safe. I go by they/them so don’t be a jerk about it."

After the encounter, Tran was confronted by the head judge prior to a game who asked him exactly what he said to the previous judge. Tran explained his answer while admitting that his nerves caused him to laugh, leading the head judge to escort him off the game stage. 

He described, "This is where it really escalated. The head judge tells me that he was sorry and that it sucked but I was disqualified due to pokemons [sic] policy. At this point I’m at the verge of tears but I tried my best to keep my composure. I just couldn’t understand what was happening. Was the judge just not listening to anything I had just told him? Was he trying to look at my side of the story at all?"

Tran emphasized his frustration at the news, repeatedly stressing that he has never had a problem with using pronouns.


"The amount of frustration I felt and still feel is just insane. I have NEVER been treated so unbelievably unfairly and had such an opportunity just taken from me. For something I didn’t even do. The judge said that while he believed that I had no bad intentions, it didn’t matter because at the end of the day, someone was offended and upset. This is ridiculous to me, I was very sympathetic for the judge I had upset and never meant to upset them or anyone and all the head judge cared about was that someone was upset and I caused it. I told him that I was also upset and that he just ruined my entire trip and I wouldn’t get over this for a long time," Tran wrote.

After Tran posted his account, a friend of his started a GoFundMe page to help refund his travel expenses. As of Tuesday, the fund raised approximately $2,600 after an initial $1,500 goal.

A Pokémon tournament judge named Will Post later responded to the story on Twitter, appearing to agree with the decision to disqualify Tran.


"Whether you agree/disagree with a ruling, a Pokémon judge should not have to worry about people coming to workplace over a call they were involved with at a Pokémon tournament. If you think doxing people over judge calls is the right play, go home and rethink your life," Post in a now deleted tweeted.

He added, "This community complains about the quality of judge calls all the time. I promise no quality judge wants the pressure of breaking even taking a lead role in an event to worry about their safety and professional life following an event if a call goes sour."

The tournament was hosted by Overload Events and did not respond for comment from Fox News Digital. 

The Pokémon Company also did not respond for a comment from Fox News Digital.

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