David Najjab, the director of institutional partnerships at Borderlands 3 developer Gearbox Software, has warned that the company could consider a move out of Texas if the state continues to pursue legislation targeting trans people.
As reported by NBCDFW, Gearbox joined other companies including Amazon, Dell, HP, IBM, Microsoft, and PayPal to oppose "a resurgence of efforts to exclude transgender youth from full participation in their communities, to criminalize or ban best-practice medical care that is proven to save lives, or to exclude LGBTQ people in a variety of other settings, including accessing healthcare, filling a prescription, or seeking legal representation."
"Such legislation would send a message that is at odds with the Texas we know, and with our own efforts to attract and retain the best talent and to compete for business," an open letter (opens in new tab) submitted by the business group says. "We will continue to oppose any unnecessary, divisive measures that would damage Texas' reputation and make our customers, our visitors, and our employees and their families feel unwelcome or unsafe."
The letter was written in response to last week's passage of Texas Senate Bill 29 (opens in new tab), the "Fair Sports for Women and Girls Act," which requires public school students to take part in athletic competitions based on their biological sex at birth.
In testimony before the Texas House of Representatives, Najjab said bills like S29 are bad for the state and could force companies like Gearbox, which was founded in 1999 and based in Frisco, Texas, to look elsewhere for future opportunities.
"Our game company is in competition worldwide. We export more than—we sell more to Asia than we do in the United States. We bring a lot of money into this state, we're headquartered here,” he said. “Don't drive us to where we have to start expanding outside of Texas and outside the country."
Najjab also compared the legislation to “bathroom bill” legislation proposed in numerous states (including Texas) several years ago that would have required trans people to use bathrooms in schools and governments based on the sex assigned to them at birth. "Make no mistake about it, we are risking a return to the bathroom bill days of 2017," he told NBCDFW. "Just like the bathroom bill, we are presented with solutions that are looking for problems."
Gearbox declined to comment further on the likelihood of a move outside of the state, but it wouldn’t be unprecedented: Earlier this month, Major League Baseball moved the 2021 All-Star Game out of Atlanta, Georgia, in response to laws imposing new restrictions on voters in the state.