Quidditch leagues seek name change to break from JK Rowling’s ‘anti-trans’ views, avoid marketing obstacles

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Two big-time quidditch leagues birthed from the super-popular “Harry Potter” franchise announced Wednesday they are seeking to change their name in an effort to distance themselves from author J.K. Rowling and to seek more opportunity.

United States Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) released a joint statement revealing their desire to change their names. Quidditch is a trademarked term by Warner Bros. and the leagues said the trademark hinders their opportunity to expand. The league also said it hoped to distance themselves from Rowling, “who has increasingly come under scrutiny for her anti-trans positions in recent years.”

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The Harry Potter Quidditch statue in Leicester Square, London, is among eight other movie statues already on display as part of Scenes on the Square.

The Harry Potter Quidditch statue in Leicester Square, London, is among eight other movie statues already on display as part of Scenes on the Square.
(Brett Cove/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

“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,” MLQ Commissioner Amanda Dallas said.

USQ executive director Mary Kimball added: “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. Renaming the sport opens up so many more revenue opportunities for both organizations, which is crucial to expansion. Through joint ownership of this new trademark, USQ and MLQ will be able to pursue sponsorships, broadcasting on major TV networks and other projects that’ll address some of the biggest barriers to playing the sport, like access to equipment.”

The Harry Potter statue in Leicester Square, London.

The Harry Potter statue in Leicester Square, London.
(Dave Rushen/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)

The quidditch leagues said they pride themselves on having a “reputation as one of the most progressive sports in the world on gender equality and inclusivity, in part thanks to its gender maximum rule, which stipulates that a team may not have more than four players of the same gender on the field at a time.”

The sport is based off the fictional game in the “Harry Potter” series. Alex Benepe and Xander Manshel were credited for bringing the sport to real life in Middlebury, Vermont. The game has grown so much that there is a US Quidditch Cup and an IQA World Cup.

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Benepe said he supported the change.

“I’m thrilled that USQ and MLQ are moving in this direction. 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,” he said.

Rowling has argued that society’s push to recognize transgender women somehow makes the world less safe for biological women. 

People practice quidditch during a boot camp organized by the Italian National Quidditch Team at Parco di Trenno on Sept. 8, 2018 in Milan, Italy.

People practice quidditch during a boot camp organized by the Italian National Quidditch Team at Parco di Trenno on Sept. 8, 2018 in Milan, Italy.
(Emanuele Cremaschi/Getty Images)

“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 wrote in a lengthy and highly criticized blog post last year.

The stance has seen her labeled a “TERF” in the past, an acronym that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” In essence, the term applies to someone who considers themselves a feminist but discounts the presence and experience of transgender women in the movement.

J.K. Rowling attends the HBO Documentary Films premiere of "Finding the Way Home" in New York on Dec. 11, 2019.

J.K. Rowling attends the HBO Documentary Films premiere of “Finding the Way Home” in New York on Dec. 11, 2019.
(Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

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Since deciding to be so vocal about her stance on the matter, Rowling has been the subject of immense criticism and even threats against her life. For example, she was the subject of a pipebomb threat in July.

Fox News’ Tyler McCarthy contributed to this report.

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