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

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. (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.

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 sanitised 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.

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.


  • I think the analogy would be one of cultural appropriation? So any dark skinned person coming to Australia and claiming to be Aboriginal? Or Michael Jackson claiming to be ethnically white?

  • Oh but there’s no such thing as “biological” woman. You’re racist, sexist and a bigot!!!!

  • I’ve no doubt the comments section of this story will be a wonderful and engaging civil discussion of great intelligence and respect.

    • Yes, well, when you link to such shining examples of great intelligence and respect as the second jezebel article featured here, I think the bar has been set incredibly low.

      • With a title as click baity as ‘rampant transphobia’, yeah, it’s going to be a shit show.

          • An overreaction from the vocal nutjobs on Twitter who are disconnected from the rest of the world?

            I think people can argue that they disagree with what she said or believes, but I don’t think she is afraid of, or hates, trans people. Which is what transphobia would imply.

          • It was only a matter of time before somebody wheeled out the old “But the dictionary says you gotta be scared!” chestnut.

            Give it a different name, then: “blatant and constant denial of trans people’s right to live without being constantly scrutinised for an excuse to denigrate them” just doesn’t roll off the tongue.

          • @pokedad ((couldn’t reply to u directly) “Give it a different name, then: “blatant and constant denial of trans people’s right to live without being constantly scrutinised for an excuse to denigrate them””

            Umm, show me where she stated that any of that should happen, or implied it?

            also “but I don’t think she is afraid of, or hates, trans people.” by comban would cover what you mentioned as the definition, by misusing terms you reduce their efficacy and mislead conversations.

      • Am I right in thinking the author of that Jezebel article purposely referred to Rowling as a man? If so, that’s super childish and reflects badly the readership of the publication, that the author thought it would be well-received.

  • This reminds me of when Shadow Complex came out and every got in a tizzy because Orson Scott Card did the writing and he has homophobic views. In the end it was still a great game enjoyed by many people.

    • I forgot to add that my point is a game is an effort by many people and just because one person has a particular viewpoint it shouldn’t taint the whole product.

      • I liked Daniel Radcliffe’s statement:

        To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.

  • It’s definitely not bigotry to believe in the science of sex, and to acknowledge that biological sex overwhelmingly comes attached to physical differences that present power imbalances in a society.

    It IS bigotry to believe that measures society takes to address sexism and imbalances of gender equality should only apply on the basis of sex instead of gender.

    This is what makes TERFS such pieces of shit. They’re effectively trying to lock trans women out of spaces where they do, in fact, belong, because they secretly believe that trans women are just ‘men trying to horn in on our thing’.

    It’s one thing to have questions about the place of trans women in sports which are contests of strength, where sex of the participants matters. That’s not what’s happening here. It’s just straight-up denial of the reality of gender being different to sex. THAT is bigotry.

    • People much, much, much smarter than you and I who have studied this for a living can tell you all about how wrong this is.

      For the sake of the world being a better place for everybody, entertain the idea that there’s something that you don’t know, which is counter-intuitive to your lived experience, but that you can get better informed with better research than just your lived experience: this is a good place to start.

      • Except most of that is based on the whole “gender is a social construct” from a sociologist/gender studies viewpoint that most geneticists/biologists/psychologists/scientists disagree with who say pretty much Sex = Gender.
        So if even in the global science world where old school science says one thing, and ‘new sciences’ say another.
        How do you expect people to really get onboard?

        Aint culture wars fun fun fun, in the sun sun sun.

      • To m2d2: Even if we accept your assertion about scientific consensus (which I don’t, but life’s too fucking short), it does NOTHING to negate the second paragraph of mine about making life better for everyone and turning to the broader sources than one’s own, more narrow and homogeneous, lived experience.

        The thing that shits me about the ‘culture wars’ is that the conservative, regressive side is morally and ethically bankrupt. What purpose is there in championing the side of minimization, of contempt for feelings and challenges, the side that wishes harm and difficulty on the vulnerable and disenfranchised? It’s all punching down… and for what benefit? What is being gained by adding to the suffering of trans people? What noble fucking purpose is that? To not have to bother accepting increased diversity, to go about in a shitty status quo that alienates so many? It’s just about being so fucking awful for no good reason. The cost is too high for fighting against something as good as inconsequential inconveniences in changing behaviours and language to welcome fellow humans.

  • “Lets say Male and Female for sex and Bob and Sally for gender. Now a person can be a Male Bob or a Female Bob. Male Sally or Female Sally. This brings clarity to the conversation.”

    That’s exactly the purpose served by using ‘trans’ and ‘cis’ as a prefix. A ‘trans woman’ is someone whose sex is male and gender is female. A ‘cis’ woman is someone whose sex is female and gender is female. If the sex prefix isn’t specified, it’s not relevant! 😀

    The problem is, a lot of folks want to keep making sex relevant where it’s not.

    • If you have a job, and then you no longer have a job as a result of a decision of your employer… yeah, you’ve lost that job regardless of how you want to articulate the associated contractual arrangements.

    • “Sir, I didn’t murder that man.

      He was previously living and then I made him not alive!”

      • This isn’t even close to the same thing. Nobody wronged her. She agreed to a deal and the deal was done.

        • That’s a bit simplistic, given that many people work under regularly renewed contracts. If she wasn’t considered to have been employed, she wouldn’t have got past the preliminary hearing with the employment tribunal.

          With that said, I don’t have much sympathy for her. If she could have held her tongue and agreed to use non gender specific language when talking to trans customers and coworkers, she probably could have won. She lost because the judge determined that her beliefs were absolute, and that she would continue to misgender people in future.

          • It is simplistic, but you can’t have it both ways. Whenever people argue that these social conditions are interconnected, there’s a brigade of “well ackshually” people ready to demand that everything is a discreet little packet of issues and that thinking about intersectional effects is SJW bullshit. If that’s the case, it applies at all times.

            Or interconnected systems of disadvantage matter and they apply at all times.

  • First I heard about this was a Blair White video, from her perspective I don’t see the problem.

    • Oh don’t mention her name here. She is the wrong type of trans person because she doesn’t follow the groupthink.

      Same deal with Sophia Narwitz

  • And it’s common knowledge that H.P. Lovecraft was pen pals with Hitler. Doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy and appreciate his works.

  • “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.”
    your facts dont agree with my feelings transphobe!

    • The fact that most people who actually study biology at an expert level have agreed that sex and gender are two completely different things for decades?

      Because that’s a fact, no matter how much you feel it shouldn’t be.

      • Except they havent. Most have stated the exact opposite. But hey. Whats facts to you when you just make stuff up all the time.

      • I know several people who are drs of evolutionary biology, biology, et. al.
        There have been NO journal articles published about this from this perspective, because the debate that sex += gender is an idelogical one based on how you identify gender.

        To give an example, the gender of an animal is an observation of it’s sex. (synonym).

        Sociologists around 40-50 years ago launched a theory that there are specific Gender Identities based on sex and that with specific chemical changes behaviour may change to mimic the other sex’s Gender Indentity. They also started to tie a person’s gender identity more strongly to the overall identity, something I think has never been shown to be true. Talk to a straight person to describe themselves and they almost never say straight, the concentration of information is elsewhere. If you look at people raised in an environment where they are told every day that their gender & sexuality is important and it will inevitably be included in the above statement, but the same is true of vegans and other ideological groups.

        Please note, this gender theory was a basic theory (hypothesis) with no confirmed confident results either way, there have been independant papers that show minor leanings either way, but AFAIK no conclusive results. ONLY editorials and media articles claiming conclusive results (which always get research wrong anyway)

        • should have been sex != gender

          also I am talking about research published in actual respected journals.

  • I also note a lot of the replies pointing out the bigotry of the author of the article, the misinterpretations of the jezebel article, the use of derogatory terms (TERF, CIS ert. al.) and other issues are no longer showing up. Fair enough if it was an outright offensive comment, but normal critique’s shouldn’t be censored.

  • It annoys me I have to point these issues out again, a bucnh of veyr good posts have been deleted from this thred. (as well just some bitchy ones)

    To point out some problems with this article :

    Bigotry – the author treats the subject(s) differently based on their beliefs

    Offensive language – TERF, CIS (as in cisgender etc.)

    Misrepresentation – The author ascribes intention on the part of Rowling where there is no evidence, extrapolating beyond reason until u get advocating for restriction or cessation of human rights for trans people.

    Leading language – saying childish tantrum, sanitised term (implying evil intent), puts the author into an ‘adult’ and morally superior position without making any strong arguments to justify this, or the position.
    “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.” implying every fan thinks she is wrong. and that human rights are involved instead of external validation of another person’s belief or identity.

    I summarised and there are a lot of other issues with thew article (besides using a very biased source like Jezebel)

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