NEW YORK (WXIN) — US Quidditch and Major League Quidditch both announced on Wednesday that they have begun the process of changing their name after J.K. Rowling came under scrutiny for her “anti-trans positions.”
The sport, inspired by the more magical game of Quidditch from the “Harry Potter” book series, is played by nearly 600 teams in 40 countries and has worked toward a goal of becoming 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 required to have no more than four players of the same gender on the pitch at any time, allowing women, trans and nonbinary players to participate equally.
Both organizations feel 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 “Harry Potter” film actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Eddie Redmayne, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright and Katie Leung, have all criticized J.K. Rowling’s stances.
Rowling first drew criticism for her statements about transgender people in Dec. 2019, after she shared support on Twitter for a researcher who lost her job due to statements she made concerning people being unable to change their biological sexes. In June of 2020, Rowling again caused controversy by taking issue with an opinion article that used the phrase “people who menstruate.”
“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” Rowling tweeted. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Now, both major Quidditch leagues are hoping that a 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 Bros., which limits expansion, funding and broadcast opportunities. The name change will also help the sport grow and expand beyond its current limitations.
“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, the leagues 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 feedback from members.