Hogwarts Legacy is a game many fans have dreamed of for over 20 years, but it’s a little too late for some of us in the transgender and nonbinary community, who were once fans of the Potterverse. Since Hogwarts Legacy was announced back in Sony’s State of Play in 2020, many people including myself could not find the excitement in what should have been a dream come true. J.K. Rowling’s extreme prejudice towards transgender people came out only months beforehand, souring excitement for many in the Harry Potter community across the world.
This, at a time when trans rights are in a constant battle because of the spreading of misinformation and the perpetuation of hateful actions against transgender people worldwide? J.K. Rowling has gone to extreme efforts to invalidate transgender people, such as when she tweeted “TERF Wars” (which stands for “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist”) with a link to a very grossly irresponsible and misinformed article she wrote on her personal website. Glamour has an article that helps gather a lot of this information, such as her controversial tweets, as well as statements and responses from people in the transgender community that may be hard for some to read, but important if you can handle it.
Daniel Radcliffe, who played the beloved Harry Potter himself, wrote an article on The Trevor Project after Rowling’s tweets about gender identity:
“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”Daniel Radcliffe
The Trans community has come out strong in recent weeks asking fans to not purchase this game out of respect and support for transgender people everywhere. A sentiment many thought was fair to ask, but this only created a new divide within the community. I personally find it impossible to separate the art from the artist in this case, because J.K. Rowling will make money from this, regardless of her lack of personal involvement in the game itself.
I often see the argument of “support the devs”, but they have been paid. I know some places tie bonuses to the success of a game. However, this is a human rights issue and nobody in the trans community is trying to hurt these developers specifically, we’re just trying to be heard, and part of that involves taking a stand.
I thought, maybe if the devs spoke up about being very supportive of the transgender community, and/or pledged to donate a portion of the sales to non-profit gender-affirming organizations, then I could see a potential reality where I would feel a little more comfortable stepping back into the wizarding world.
However, in a recent interview with the director of Hogwarts Legacy, Alan Tew, he was asked his opinion on these issues. Not only did he not address J.K. Rowling by name, nor mention the transgender community specifically, he even dodged the question after being pressed a second time on it. I don’t know why Mr. Tew would not address J.K. Rowling by name. However, not addressing your support for the transgender community specifically is where I have a much bigger problem. It looks to me more like he didn’t want to upset a small hateful group of people, over a community who just wants to be seen and exist in peace. I am sure many would feel like they can return to the Potter community if they knew that new creators in the Potterverse would recognize us, and support us in a way that J.K. Rowling clearly does not, as her words, actions and influence have caused lasting harm to the trans community.
Believe me, I still hope, at the very least, she just takes a golden parachute and leaves the franchise entirely in the hands of someone else, no longer being able to profit from it again. Until things change from the top, I will likely never support the franchise again, especially if Rowling is still cashing checks off every piece of merchandise related to it. I am also asking anybody who sees a transgender person speaking about their stance against the game, to not attack them or try to undermine their message please. Just show your love and support, even if you buy the game against their wishes, you can still be a strong ally in so many other ways. I know the knee-jerk reaction we all get sometimes when we feel that something we love is under attack. Just understand that there are a lot of battles the trans community has to fight every single day, and that none of them are trying to invalidate your love for Harry Potter. This is just one of multiple battlegrounds that many people in the trans community are taking a stand on in the battle against misinformation and for their right to exist.
Please check out The Trevor Project here to learn more about how to support the transgender community and the ACLU here to keep up with the latest in transgender issues as well as others in the LGBTQIA+ communities.