The new game based on the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling—Hogwarts Legacy—was released for the Playstation 4, the XBOX series X, and PC on February 10. The game is building high expectations, as trailers for it have shown amazing graphics and exciting features. Many fans are genuinely excited for the game, but there are some reasons you might reconsider buying it.
I am sure I am not the only student at Mt. A who looked up to J.K. Rowling as a child, or at the very least, read her books or watched the movies based on them. She seemed to be the pinnacle of what every modern young woman should strive to be: accomplished, successful, and a role model to outcasts searching for community. However, as they say, you should never meet your heroes; or, in this case, read their tweets.
The acronym TERF stands for Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist. It is a term used to refer to transphobic feminists who exclude trans women from their efforts for women’s rights and their views on womanhood. Often this comes from a place of fear, compounded by an inability or unwillingness to access education..
On June 6, 2020, J.K. Rowling tweeted the following in response to an article titled “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate”: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
The article was using trans-inclusive language that acknowledges that not all women menstruate and not all menstruators are women.
The problematic nature of this message was explained by non-profit organization I Support the Girls in their reply made on the same day. “Not all women menstruate and not all who menstruate are women. There are many girls, non-binary folx, trans boys, and trans men who also get a period. We recognize that language change can be uncomfortable to get use to it. And we are grateful for inclusive authors and articles,” they wrote.
Rowling has also made transphobic comments on her website. “So I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth,” she stated.
This comment compares transgender people to predators and insinuates that a trans woman is not a woman unless she complies to binary standards. Though Rowling claims to support trans people, she uses transphobic language and ideas. J.K. Rowling has transphobic views and to buy the new game based on her work is to fund a known transphobe.
For many fans, the Harry Potter franchise was a world where they felt welcomed and celebrated for their differences. Characters like Hermione, attacked for being a Mudblood and forced to make the devastating choice to separate from her parents, embody the experiences of many—and in particular, they echo the experience of queer people. Rowling’s sudden and vehement transphobia was all the more confusing and hurtful to fans who identified so strongly with her emphasis on found family and acceptance.
Unfortunately, it is not possible to separate Rowling’s hurtful and destructive rhetoric from the newest installment in the franchise, because the harm she is condoning and perpetrating is happening in real time.
Even if it were possible to distance the artist from their work, the game itself has questionable elements. The goblins that make up the main group of antagonists in the game feature many anti-semitic stereotypes, like hooked noses and their status as bankers. Although goblins have always been stereotypical caricatures and Rowling in no way invented these anti-semitic creatures, placing them as the villains of the game has led to questions of the game’s level of racial sensitivity. Looking back on the books, this lack of sensitivity was always present in the series. I remember, even during the height of the Harry Potter hype, there were questions as to why the only confirmed East Asian character was both named Cho Chang and in the school house meant for the most intelligent students.
Although many people have fond memories of the series and the graphics look beautifully rendered, I recommend that you avoid buying Hogwarts Legacy, both because of the racist undertones of the game and to avoid supporting anti-trans efforts. There are plenty of other games to play and books to read besides those in the world of Harry Potter.
Here are some alternatives to continuing to support the Harry Potter franchise: try out the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series instead. It has a similar feel to Harry Potter and is getting a television series adaptation soon. Play another open-world fantasy video game like Skyrim or The Legend of Zelda Breath of the Wild, or try Dungeons and Dragons or any other tabletop fantasy role playing game. Infinitely customizable and open in a way video games can not yet recreate, you can go anywhere and be anything, even a knock-off transgender Dumbledore. It is a great way to connect with friends new and old. Many of Mt. A’s Tabletop Gaming Society’s members would be happy to show you the ropes.