Harry Potter RPG Hogwarts Legacy will reportedly feature "trans-inclusive" character creation options, in spite of series creator J.K. Rowling's outspoken transphobia.
That news comes courtesy of a report by Bloomberg, which was told by anonymous sources that the game currently gives players the option to create their teen spellcasters with entirely independent body, voice type, and binary gender (witch or wizard) options that determines your dorm.
There's plenty of room to argue over the specifics of how "trans-inclusive" these options really are—notably, a non-binary character would still be required to select a male or female gender. More important, though, is this feature's positioning within a major Harry Potter game. In recent years, J.K. Rowling has become increasingly hostile to the trans community, publishing essays in support of anti-trans activists and prompting backlash from Potter actors like Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.
WB Games has been cagey over Rowling's outspoken transphobia, refusing to comment on whether the author would be paid royalties. But the move for trans inclusion came as the result of a strong internal push from several of the game's developers, calling for inclusive customisation and the addition of a transgender character. Bloomberg's report claims there was some initial pushback from management, but for now, this is how the character creator exists in current builds of the game.
The report somewhat echoes CD Projekt Red's response to accusations of transphobia, announcing their own (flawed) gender-inclusive character creator after a controversial in-game advert was spotted in a trailer. In the end, it didn't matter that the game let you pick whatever genitals you wanted—not when Night City itself failed to recognise transgender identities.
I truly believe the developers pushing for more inclusive character creation options have their hearts in the right place. But it's nonetheless for a game that, by its very existence, culturally (and very likely financially) benefits a pivotal figure in the UK's "gender critical" movement. Closer to development, concerns also linger over lead designer Troy Leavitt's history as an anti-social-justice YouTuber, a background WB Games was both aware of and unconcerned with.
Representation can be powerful. But it can't offset material harm being done to trans people and rights in the real world.