The real-life version of quidditch, the sport that was inspired by British author J.K. Rowling'sHarry Potter series, is undergoing a name change after Rowling's history of transphobic comments.
U.S. Quidditch (USQ) and Major League Quidditch (MLQ) made the announcement in a joint statement released Wednesday. The groups said they would conduct a series of surveys throughout the coming months to determine a new name for the sport.
"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 in the statement.
Leadership for quidditch said the name change will help the sport distance itself from J.K. Rowling's and her anti-trans positions. The groups' release stated that the sport is also known for gender equality and inclusivity. It specifically points to its gender maximum rule, which requires each team to not have more than four players of the same gender on the field at a time.
Inclusivity is also highlighted as a value by the International Quidditch Association, NBC News reports.
"As a community we want our sport to be inclusive of people of different ethnicities, cultural backgrounds, ages, languages, genders, sexual orientations," the governing body's website states. "A key demonstration of this is the Gender Rule in quidditch, whereby players are able to play as the gender that they identify as including non-binary genders."
Rowling has made many anti-trans comments previously, claiming to love trans people but also essentially questioning their existence. She has made statements that were supportive of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, a.k.a. TERFs, and defended a woman who lost her job because of anti-trans rhetoric. She has painted trans rights as somehow in conflict with women's rights, and some conservative politicians have used Rowling's comments to support their transphobic positions.
Another reason provided by the groups included "quidditch" is trademarked by Warner Bros. That has limited the sport expanding, according to the leagues. They added that a new name would allow opportunities for sponsorships and new developments for its players and fans.
"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," USQ executive director Mary Kimball said. "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."
Both USQ and MLQ plan to keep their acronyms. The leagues said the survey for stakeholders will be open until January.
The sport was first adapted from the Harry Potter book series in 2005 at Middlebury College in Vermont by Xander Manshel and Alex Benepe. More than 450 quidditch teams exist in the world in more than 30 countries. Benepe said in the groups' statement that is for the name 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," Benepe said, according to the release.