The Flak over Fl4k and what it cost

Like almost everyone else online i call Zer0 he/him.
Prominent Canadian Game Reviewer Victor Lucas consistently refers to Fl4k as “he”.
meh. 2K Games was probably just happy to get Victor Lucas talking about the game for 15 minutes straight on his TV Show.

2K Games wants promotional coverage… I don’t see them coming down on Victor Lucas AT ALL.

If Fl4k wants to be seen as “gender neutral” then Fl4k should not wear deceptive head wear that makes Fl4k look like a human male.


we are in game pressure as well.

I kinda feel like they might be keeping the identity secret by referring to FL4K as they/them because it’s origins is unknown atm and is probably a big time end game reveal hoping :crossed_fingers:t2:

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I’m simply saying everything I’ve seen and heard make my brain refer to Fl4k as a he. Yes, I am being forced to use this pronoun if I want to use these forums. I do. I will. I mean non-binary people absolutely no disrespect - if anyone on these forums (or anywhere) wishes to be referred to in a non-binary way I will gladly do so. I just think effectively censoring how I, Andy Pike, decide to refer to a fictional male-voiced robot on these forums is going a little bit too far.


How about we all try to follow a simple rule?

‘Don’t get personal’.

Avoid making this a debate with individuals.

The point is, the trolls are out in full force.

They aren’t here to debate.

They are here to sh*t up the place.

He has been doing thusly, across multiple threads.

Addressing that fact isn’t making it personal.

It is calling out the fact of the behavior as what it is.

They aren’t here for discourse.

They are here for discord.


Fair point.


Let’s not sink to their level and break the house rules in response. I know it’s tough.


OR open a polite pm with individuals.


my only real question is why would people get banned for the act. in the end i know its to add inclusivness and all. but isnt banning alittle overboard. i can see being abusive with it sure. but for me personaly im not entirely confterble with reffering to people by their prefferd pronoun. its just something im not entirely accustomed to. and i can understand i may caused some discomfort in doing so. but in the end its about feelings. but if i am not conterble with doing something and banning me for it for simply either doing it since my beliefs conflics the other can does that mean that i would be banned to since i do not comform to reffering to fl4k by they ? my only worry is really that .

i come from a place where it doesnt matter who you are. people are people. people can call each other what ever they please. but if im not accustomed. and i just do not want to be pushed to do so. since to me its more of a respect thing. i may be wrong but im just looking to know to what extent this rule really goes if anything.

They wouldn’t. Not a single user has been banned.

The craze about instant banning is the result of some clickbait “journalism”. Using the wrong pronouns merely leads to being asked to use the right ones and that only on this forum.

As has been stated above more than once, Fl4k’s creator clarified that the AI in question goes by they/them and Gearbox asks people to use those pronouns on this forum. Which, as a matter of politeness and respect to the person who invented the character, shouldn’t be that hard to do.

As can be seen from this thread, discussion got pretty heated especially since some persons joined the forums to protest the fact that Gearbox asks to use they/them pronouns while using this free of charge forum provided by Gearbox, claiming their freedom speech is impeded or their beliefs don’t allow them to use non-binary pronouns or negating the fact that non-binary folks even exist.

After being reminded by the mods the common behaviour is to either become insulting, claim harassment or outright asking to be banned for “telling the truth” and generally being a dick about this all… Especially insulting other users or moderators will lead to consequences. If someone enters here just

then this may not be the right forum for them and honestly, I won’t miss them. I value a good discussion, but I draw the line at such behaviour.

Another thing is that Gearbox asks to use they/them solely. You’re free to use whatever pronouns you want to for Fl4k literally everywhere else.
I hope I could help a little with your questions.


I see a lot of things labelled ‘Orwellian’ which have questionable relation to his writing but this is a bit baffling. I assume you’re talking about Nineteen Eighty-Four, which was written in the wake of Nazi atrocities and features characters whose private diaries and secret conversations are spied on by a brutal totalitarian regime, which tortures them until they betray their most deeply felt allegiances and beliefs.

Gearbox is asking its members on a private forum to not troll a characters’ designated pronoun out of respect for trans and non-binary people. I… fail to understand the comparison.

Incidentally, gender does feature in Nineteen Eighty-Four, because the Party is insistent on strict and divided roles for both men and women. One of the ways the disobedient protagonists are resistant is by failing to fit the imposed binary distinction between masculine and feminine subjects - a distinction Orwell also observed as harmful in his other writings.


I love how people and mods keep on saying no one has been banned as a response to people saying you can get banned.

The mods have said you will get punished. The person didn’t say people got banned, but that you can get banned or will get banned.

If this isn’t true then what happens if I choose to say he/she after being told it’s they/them intentionally.

What action would be taken? I would get banned right? If the action is that mods will have a talk with me and I still choose not to use they/them and get banned for this.

If so then you guys are banning for misgendering. Stop trying to say it’s fabricated. (Not you, but people in general)

Also did you ever think (not you specifically) that the new people here might’ve ended up using the forums after the game releases, and they haven’t been here because the game hasn’t been out yet?

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Fair question, but no, I don’t think that this is the rule. Most of the people here are already playing Borderlands 2, some are still playing the classic Part 1 of the series.

I can only speak for myself, but I seldom get excited about a sequel if I wasn’t a fan of the first parts. I definitely would not preorder or join a forum to talk about it.

I would agree with you, if someone signed up and posted stuff in the build threads or the manufacturer gimmick thread etc. and here. But if someone signs up, posts in here to scream that they’ll never bow to this terrible impediment of free speech (that would btw not have affected them in any way, had they not joined here) and goes on to try pressing people’s buttons while sometimes literally stating that they won’t read any replies to their posts, because they’re right anyway (so why bother reading other people’s opinions?) then I allow myself to assume that we have a case of troll infestation.

You mean, what if you ignore basic politeness and repeatedly insist that your interpretation of the character Fl4k is to be honoured above that of the AI’s designer? And along the way make sure to insult community members and moderators alike?

Why would you (not specifically you) do that?

And one other question: Do you think the politeness discussion here would have been as vile if we were talking about a male protagonist that looked feminine with people using she/her for him? (Personally, I think it wouldn’t)


Specifically? That would depend on each case individually.

You’ll have noticed the forum rule prohibiting ‘homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of hate speech’.

technically, deliberate misgendering can be seen as transphobia hate speech. (Which incidentally is a term I have my own issues with, but that’s another topic). I think context and intent are very important. Most of the time the answer will be obvious, but not always.

I agree with the above, though: this is about manners, not pronouns. The forum rules tell you what standards of manners are expected of you here. If you deliberately ignore any of those rules for whatever reason then you should expect the sanctions described in the rules.

The rules don’t state ‘these only apply if you’re not talking about pronouns’ ; they apply all the time, to everyone.

What seems to be happening is a load of folks arguing under the misconception that the extant forum rules don’t or shouldn’t apply to them, for a variety of reasons. They are asking for very special treatment.

Which is why I have been very keen for everyone to read those rules. If folks find them too challenging to follow, then they don’t have to post here. No-one is compelled to do that.

I can’t help but notice that no-one -no-one- has complained specifically about not being allowed to make transphobic posts- which could include deliberate misgendering of a trans person. All these righteous champions of liberty are okay with that, but completely lose their ■■■■ at not being able to insult non-binary people, and only non-binary people? Yes, I know it’s not the same. But certainly within the same field.

This strikes me as very odd indeed. Utterly bewildering, in fact.


I also meant people who played BL2 and BL1 and used the forums before, but left after they stopped playing.

It seems the forum hosting has changed since then which is why they may appear new.

So, you can get banned for misgendering. Therefore articles or people stating that you can be banned are correct. Not everyone has made insults to the community or mods. If this is the case then I should theoretically say he even after being corrected with no problem. If not then yes I can get banned for misgendering.

No I do not. Especially as someone who is in the anime community. Trap, androgynous, feminine male characters are common and wouldn’t spark this much debate. Some of the most popular characters are traps.

Now let’s say this feminine looking male which could mean features or way they are dressed or even both was to be referred to as he. (Since Fl4k is looks male but referred to as they, I would assume this would be looks female but referred to as he.) I don’t think anyone would have a problem calling them he, because they are male. Now let’s say that he was to be called she, I still don’t think there would be a problem. People would see him as trans and move on or already see them as a female and move on. Now let’s say he was to be called they, then I think you might see some debate but not to this extent. Probably people would take them as trans and move on.

If it was a masculine male, born male, that wanted to be called she then there would be debate, but again probably people will write them off as trans and leave it at that. Now let’s say he was to be referred to as they. I would see debate on the same level as fl4k

Basically the difference is this is about non-binary vs binary. People are more accepting of trans and also probably lump transgender and transexual together. Which is probably why they are okay with transgender and not non binary. Even if they don’t lump it together, generally transgender is seen as male and female which most people agree on, non binary isn’t.

Because they aren’t trying to insult them. Yes the person may be insulted but the intent isn’t to insult.

And before someone brings up a racial slur cause I’ve seen people bring it up, and say someone can call you a racial slur and not mean to insult you. The word itself is derogatory/demeaning/dehumanizing. He/she aren’t.

But this didn’t really respond to my post. If I intentionally choose to say he/she after being told. Would I get banned?

If the answer to that is yes, then that means I can get banned for misgendering.

If it’s because misgendering isn’t upholding to the forums standards of manners, it would still mean that you can get banned for the use of wrong pronouns.

If the cause is because I misgendered, then that’s a reason. If it’s the intent of misgendering then that means that I can misgenders without the intent. (I’m not talking about a mistake) If it’s about the manners and that you aren’t holding it. Then what cause you to not uphold the manners? Was it because I misgendered or the intent?

I’m not trying to debate whether you guys should or shouldn’t ban people on this front, you guys get the final say on the rule and already made your stance.

I just find it funny that comments are being told no one has been banned, which is true, but some comments and articles aren’t saying that people got banned but can be banned, which is also true.


So, we learned that Gearbox has rules and can kick people off their site, and that literally nobody has been unfairly affected by this. :+1:


Which is okay, but that doesn’t change the fact that you can be banned. But they say that people come misinformed or that no one has been when the person or article states can be and not has been.

It’s like an attempt to dodge it. Just say yes you can be banned for it. The articles/people aren’t wrong, but as of now no has been.


As an aside: what do you regard as the cost to yourself to use the appropriate pronouns?

For example, if I’m discussing another forum user with the other mods, and I don’t know their gender (because we often have no info about them other than a username,) I will use they/ them until I find out. Not every single time but enough that’s is becoming a habit. It requires -for me- a tiny pause as I write, or a quick edit.

What do you is feel the cost to you? In terms of this forum?

Yes, folks who persistently and maliciously misgender will almost certainly get suspended. Whether that moves to a full ban at some point is entirely up to them. This is relatively new territory for us: I can only recall one previous instance like this.

‘Innocent repeated misgendering’? I’m not convinced that’s a thing. Why exactly would anyone require such an exception?


To you. Other folks think differently.

This issue is presented as ‘misgendering results in a ban’. This is true only in some circumstances. It’s the lack of nuance that we’re trying to address.


I’m not here to debate the topic.

So I apologise but I won’t be giving an answer to your questions. I doubt you’ll change my mind nor will I. And I doubt we will get anything from it. But I will say that I don’t see it as using the appropriate pronouns, if that gives an idea to how I view things.

I also use they/them generally when I don’t know the gender.

Again, I’m sorry but I just don’t think it would be worth either of our time.

I’m just here because I keep seeing the response to people saying you can be banned is that no one has been banned which wasn’t what the person/article has said. Or that people are coming misinformed when they technically aren’t.

You guys made you decision which is fine, but it felt like you guys are trying to dodge the fact that you can be banned by saying these things. I would much prefer see that your response be yes you can be banned for this, but not if it’s a mistake. As of now no one has been banned. Not just no one has been banned. And to stop calling things misinformed (though some may be)

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