London, UK (BBC) — Bloomsbury Publishing announced today that all characters in the Harry Potter universe will receive new gender assignments. The news comes after author J.K. Rowling expressed support for a woman who was fired for her “absolutist” views on sex and gender.
“There are more than 200 characters in the Harry Potter books, and none of them were written as questioning their biological sex,” said a statement issued by Bloomsbury. “That must change now that no person in the United Kingdom can, under law, say with absolute certainty what gender they are.”
No firm decisions about sex and gender have been made for the characters because Bloomsbury’s lawyers are not certain they can legally make such assignments for fictional people.
In the Mary Forstater case, Judge James Tayler said “gender-critical beliefs are not worthy of respect in a democratic society” because they conflict with the fundamental human rights of others. Bloomsbury is concerned that the social justice intensity of some Harry Potter fans poses a legal risk of unknown proportions.
“If Bloomsbury decides that Mafalda Hopkirk will be a gay man when, in fact, she identifies as a transgender woman,” said barrister Marcus Brown, “will the transgender Harry Potter fanbase have standing to sue for ‘the enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering a person’?”
No firm answers are likely to arise soon, but the publisher is under considerable social pressure to conform. Sources say the firm is considering a public vote to determine which genders should be assigned to which characters.