Report: Harry Potter Game Devs Distressed Over J.K. Rowling’s Rampant Transphobia

J.K. Rowling accepts an award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in 2019 which, yeah, yikes.
J.K. Rowling accepts an award from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in 2019 which, yeah, yikes.
Photo: Dia Dipasupil (Getty)

Developers on the upcoming Harry Potter game have privately expressed concerns over series creator J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments, according to a new report from Bloomberg.

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Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone was first published in 1997, eventually spawning a mega-popular series of young adult fantasy novels, movie adaptations, and various other merchandising. But as fans have grown older, they’ve also had to contend with Rowling’s emerging penchant for advocating against the human rights of trans women.

Over the last few years, Rowling has become one of the most visible trans-exclusionary radical feminists (or TERFs) for, among other things, her public support of U.K. researcher Maya Forstater after Forstater lost her job for being “gender critical,” the sanitized phrase used by TERFS to explain away the fact that they don’t believe trans women are actually women. Rowling also had a public tantrum earlier this month when a news story referred to people who menstruate as “people who menstruate,” as opposed to narrowly defining that biological process as unique to cis women.

The still-unnamed and unannounced Harry Potter project has been highly anticipated by the gaming community since early gameplay footage leaked in late 2018. According to Bloomberg reporter Jason Schreier, sources say the game is still in the works at Disney Infinity developer Avalanche Software despite the covid-19 pandemic and the potential sale of its publisher, Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment. It’s apparently slated for release next year on PlayStation 5 and Xbox Series X.

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Although J.K. Rowling doesn’t have a direct connection to the Harry Potter game, which is said to be an open-world adventure, Avalanche Software employees have still had misgivings about working with the property due to Rowling’s increasingly public bigotry. Studio management has yet to address the issue with staff, Bloomberg reports, leaving many to commiserate through private messages in Slack over their continued involvement with the transphobic author.

More information on the Harry Potter game is expected sometime after August 2020, but as those plans were made before some of Rowling’s most egregious, recent attacks on trans women, it’s possible that might change.

Staff Writer, Kotaku

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