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It was a great surprise yesterday when, after a detailed showcase in a PlayStation 5 State of Play, the website for Hogwarts Legacy, the upcoming Harry Potter adventure game, showed that the title is coming to Nintendo Switch. A surprise that just formed a little pit in my stomach. Not that the game itself seems particularly wrankle-worthy — if I could completely separate fiction from reality for a moment I would be able to admit it looks at least kind of neat — but conversations about Harry Potter these days are never just about Harry Potter. Instead, they often (if not always) end up involving the views of one Joanne Rowling and her current streak of anti-transgender rhetoric.

Discussion around Rowling is complex, and the nature of her transphobia requires many words and much time to unpack — Jessie Gender of GameSpot wrote an impeccable writeup of the issue and how it pertains to Hogwarts Legacy, and I encourage anybody with undecided feelings on the game or Rowling herself to give it a read. For the sake of this article I am treating Rowling’s transphobia as proven — I have been present for the full timeline of her downturn, from the early incidents of plausible deniability in 2018 and 2019 to the publishing of a gender critical manifesto in 2020 to this very month, where the author ranted on International Woman’s Day spreading misinformation about Scotland’s proposed amendments to its Gender Recognition Bill. Whether you find her actions to come from malice, pain, or misunderstanding, her platform as a billionaire and writer of the most successful book franchise ever written has granted her misguided words a power that has caused irreparable harm.

Again, Hogwarts Legacy itself is largely free from controversy on its own, aside from the game’s main plot involving a goblin rebellion (reigniting discussion on whether the franchise’s depiction of goblins is anti-semitic). JK Rowling appears to have no direct involvement in the game. The developers have even strived to be able to make your character in the game transgender. If one truly holds to the tenet of separating art from artist, it would be theoretically possible to detach Rowling’s transphobia from the game. But in reality, Rowling still monetarily and culturally benefits from the power of the Harry Potter franchise. Whether or not you are able to separate your feelings of her from your feelings on the so-called “Wizarding World” in your mind, in reality those two entities are still intrinsically linked (unlike, say, George Lucas and Star Wars).



Does this mean you’re a bad person if you still like Harry Potter, or want to play Hogwarts Legacy? Well… no. I, a sole Jewish trans woman, can’t look into your heart and decide something like that. And heaven knows the game industry is rife with companies and scenarios that would raise just as many moral objections — look at Activision Blizzard or Ubisoft as examples. Personally, I’m not going to willingly consume or revisit any HP content ever again on my own, but the franchise was also never particularly special to me like it was to many others. If you must consume it, then I ask you do so critically and thoughtfully, and consider how you might help transgender people in other avenues of your life — researching topics you may not fully understand, donating money to those who need it, and working to denounce and debunk Rowling’s toxicity. 

Hogwarts Legacy is due sometime this year. If you want details about the game itself devoid of all this periphery talk, check out its PlayStation blog post. You can also pre-order the game on Amazon right now, if it’s something you’d like to add to your collection.


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Written by Amelia Fruzzetti

A writer and Nintendo fan based in Seattle, Washington. When not working for NinWire, she can be found eating pasta, writing stories, and wondering about when Mother 3 is finally going to get an official localization.