Destructoid writer suspended for outing trans* woman who held fraudulent fundraiser for SRS
Authored by Zarmena Khan
I’ve read through pages and pages on the internet, trying to make sense of the drama that ensued following Allistair Pinsof, a video game journalist at Destructoid, outing Chloe Sagal, a transgender woman.
Firstly, apologies to readers because I can’t provide links to original posts and Tweets as they have been taken down now. What I can share, however, is Destructoid’s response, and Pinsof’s response to the backlash (Google document).
In a nutshell, what happened is this: Chloe Sagal, creator of the game Homesick, started an IndieGogo campaign to raise funds for a “lifesaving surgery.” Sagal claimed that she was in an accident that left a piece of shrapnel in her body, which, if not removed, could be fatal.
She raised $35,000 before IndieGogo removed her campaign as they detected fraudulent activity. After a series of depressing posts stating that she’s giving up, and that life’s unfair, Chloe apparently attempted suicide live on her Twitch TV channel.
Things only got worse. Pinsof (who now regrets his actions) took to Twitter to discuss the situation. He not only outed Sagal, but revealed that her IndieGogo project was basically a fundraiser for gender reassignment surgery (SRS).
As a result, Chloe’s life is potentially in danger while she is reportedly admitted in the hospital following her suicide attempt.
Pinsof’s version of the story (see Pinsof’s response) is that he did this for everyone’s good. The individual in question was harming herself, those around her, and charity organizations by telling lies.
Destructoid’s founder (see Destructoid’s response) acknowledges Pinsof’s intentions, but states that he was instructed not to discuss this matter on the internet. Pinsof is now suspended without pay while Destructoid tries to make sense of this unique situation and figure out how to handle it.
As a neutral third-party, I understand that neither Sagal’s nor Pinsof’s intentions were to cause harm. But their actions were very wrong.
Do we know for sure that Sagal was definitely raising money for SRS? What if she wasn’t? The fact is, she lied. I can never fathom the kind of life that a transgender woman lives. But at the same time, lying is not the answer. While internet is full of abusive, threatening trolls, there are also a lot of kind people who could have generously donated to her cause had she been honest.
On the other hand, Pinsof should have known better. As a fellow journalist, I find it very surprising that he got involved in something of this nature personally, and outed Sagal the way he did. He made a mistake that not only destroyed his career, but also resulted in hurting Sagal beyond comprehension.
But if Sagal made a mistake, so did Pinsof. There is a lesson in this fiasco for everyone involved.