The forthcoming Harry Potter game Hogwarts: Legacy will allow players to create transgender characters, according to a new report.
The news comes after the author of the Harry Potter novel series, JK Rowling, has faced repeated accusations of transphobia relating to her social media activity.
According to Bloomberg, people “familiar with the game’s development” have revealed that players will be able to customise their character’s “voice, body type and gender placement” in a bid “toward inclusivity”.
While it’s becoming increasingly common for video games to allow the creation of characters that fall outside of the cisgender binary, the report claimed that the development team’s push for inclusivity was motivated in part by the controversy surrounding Rowling.
Rowling’s comments “rattled some people working on the game,” the report alleged. “As a result, some members of the Hogwarts Legacy development team have fought to make the game as inclusive as possible, pushing for the character customisation and even for a transgender character to be added.”
Last year, Rowling returned a human rights award from the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation, previously given to recipients including Barack Obama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, in the wake of backlash over her “transphobic” statements.
The controversy surrounding Rowling’s views on trans people dates back years. In 2017, the author’s representatives characterised Rowling’s “like” of a transphobic social media post as “a middle-aged moment”.
In June, Rowling tweeted in response to a post that used the phrase “people who menstruate”. She suggested that the writer should have used the term “women” instead. Critics of Rowling said her remarks failed to take into account the many non-binary people and trans men who menstruate, and the many women, including cisgender women, who do not.
Rowling then posted an essay on her personal website defending her position, which was opposed by Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe. The author was subsequently criticised for liking a tweet that pejoratively compared hormone therapy to anti-depressants.
The Independent has reached out to Warner Bros Games for comment.