Quidditch sport to change name after transphobic comments by J.K. Rowling

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FILE – In this Nov. 13, 2018 file photo, author J.K. Rowling poses for photographers upon her arrival at the premiere of the film ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, in London. JK Rowling is publishing a new story called “The Ickabog,” which will be free to read online to help entertain children and families stuck at home during the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Harry Potter” author said Tuesday May 26, 2020, that she wrote the fairy tale for her children as a bedtime story over a decade ago. (Photo by Joel C Ryan/Invision/AP, File)

NEW YORK — US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch both announced on Wednesday that they have begun the process of changing their name after J.K. Rowling continuously came under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions.

The sport, inspired by the magical game of Quidditch from the “Harry Potter” book series, has nearly 600 teams in 40 countries and developed a reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world in terms of gender equality and inclusivity. By implementing rules such as Title 9 3/4 and the Gender Maximum Rule, teams are ensured to have women, trans and non-binary players equally participate.

Both organizations have expressed that it’s crucial to live up to this reputation in all aspects, believing that changing their name is a step in the right direction.

“For the last year or so, both leagues have been quietly collecting research to prepare for the move and been in extensive discussions with each other and trademark lawyers regarding how we can work together to make the name change as seamless as possible,” said MLQ Commissioner Amanda Dallas in a press release.

LGBTQ+ advocacy groups like GLAAD and the Human Rights Campaign, as well as the “Harry Potter” actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Eddie Redmayne, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright and Katie Leung, have all criticized J.K. Rowling’s stances.

The leagues are hoping that the name change will distance themselves from J.K. Rowling and emphasize that they do not share her beliefs.

“I’m thrilled that USQ and MLQ are moving in this direction,” said Alex Benepe, who co-adapted the sport in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont with Xander Manshel. “Big changes like this don’t come without risk, but I’ve been a strong advocate for making this move for a long time. The sport needs its own space without limits on its growth potential and changing the name is crucial to achieving that.”

In addition to disconnecting from J.K. Rowling, Quidditch is trademarked by Warner Brothers, which limits expansion, funding and broadcast opportunities. The name change will also help the sport grow and expand beyond the current limits they have.

“I believe quidditch is at a turning point. We can continue the status quo and stay relatively small, or we can make big moves and really propel this sport forward into its next phase,” said USQ Executive Director Mary Kimball.

Currently, they are conducting surveys with their members about the name change and plan to complete this step of the process by the end of January. Both leagues will keep their acronyms.

“Since MLQ’s first season in 2015, we have strived to bring a unique game to market by building a brand that is seen as capable, reliable and premier,” said MLQ Creative and Marketing Director Mike Iadveaia. “Although we plan to pursue this name change, we intend to keep the ‘Q’ in our name because we do not want to completely break from our humble beginnings, nor the reputation we have worked hard to build with fans, players, volunteers and other stakeholders.”

The announcement date of the new name is pending based on the feedback.

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