For many in the LGBTQ community, the ongoing controversy surrounding Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has made the debut of the Hogwarts Legacy video game anything but magical.

The long-awaited game has been marred by controversy ever since it was first released. announced in September 2020, largely due to Rowling’s outspoken views on the transgender community, which many have called transphobic.

A large number of players, including longtime Harry Potter fans, have vowed not to buy Hogwarts Legacy. And on Friday, nearly 300 LGBTQ gamers and allies will launch a week long protest against the game on Twitch and discouraging people from streaming it.

“Being an ally is something you do; it’s not about who you are,” said Valerie, a queer gamer who organized the protest on Twitch. “This is how you spend your money, this is how you spend your time… if your support comes with restrictions or exceptions, like buying and playing a game like this, you are not being an ally.”

In conjunction with the game’s launch, protesters will be streaming anything but Hogwarts Legacy on Twitch while raising money for charity. Before Valerie’s protest broadcast began, she said the online boycott had already raised more than $20,000 for the Trans Justice Funding Project.

“Ultimately, there is no ethical way to consume a luxury good whose profits and influence support hateful and transphobic rhetoric,” said Veronica Ripley, a Twitch ambassador and transgender woman, who calls herself “Nikatine” on the platform. .

The video game, which Rowling has not had a direct involvement with, includes features intended to make transgender players feel welcome in the Wizarding World.

It features a character named Sirona Ryan, who runs a pub in the town of Hogsmeade. While the game doesn’t explicitly state that the character is trans, it is suggested in Sirona’s dialogue with the playerswhen she says that it took her classmates a moment to realize that «she’s actually a witch, not a wizard.»

Players can also build their characters. without having to choose a genre; they simply choose a body type and tone of voice without relegating them to a specific gender. They can then choose whether they want to be a «witch» or a «wizard».

Ultimately, there is no ethical way to consume a luxury good whose profits and influence sustain hateful and transphobic rhetoric.

-Veronica Ripley, Twitch Ambassador who goes by ‘Nikatine’ on the platform

But some trans activists who spoke to NBC News said these additions to the game seem superficial.

“These are attempts at inclusive performance in the same way that movies about trans characters played by cis people are inclusive performances,” Ripley said. “At best they are like a quick cash grab and a pat on the back for wealthy executives and at worst they are actively malicious towards the trans community.”

Online, many also suggested that the name of the trans character, «Sirona Ryan», is problematic itself, noting that the first three letters spell «Sir».

Others pointed out that even if the game is trying to be more inclusive, Rowling will likely benefit financially from the game’s success.

“Social currency is still a thing and cultural relevance is still a thing,” said Candace Melody, a Canadian Twitch streamer and queer gamer. «As long as she’s relevant… there’s still work to be done.»

A spokesperson for Warner Bros. Interactive, the game’s publisher, directed NBC News to an article on video game website IGN in which a spokesperson responded to the addition of a trans character.

When asked about the new character by IGNA representative for the game’s developer Avalanche Software said: «It has been a high priority during the development of Hogwarts Legacy to create a game that is representative and diverse, aligned with our wonderful community of fans.»

“The team felt it was very important to create a game that was representative of the rich and diverse world of Harry Potter, as well as the groups of people who play the game, which includes the LGBTQIA+ community,” the representative added. “We have a diverse cast of characters that players will encounter throughout the game.”

A Rowling spokesperson declined to comment.

So far, game critics have given the game fairly positive reviews, although some, such as Wired, wrote the game’s reviews. «The real world damage is impossible to ignore.»

Those who ordered the deluxe edition of the game received early access before the official release, which has led to an influx of streamers sharing the game on Twitch.

Before its release, Hogwarts Legacy announced on Twitter that the game was ranked as the No. 1 single-player game on Twitch, peaking at 1.28 million concurrent viewers at launch.

Despite their strong feelings against Rowling, many Potter fans have grappled with their relationship with the franchise.

«‘Harry Potter’ was a way for a lot of kids to find an escape from really tough times,» said Twitch streamer MSTRSSFOX, who only wanted to be referred to by his username out of concern for his safety. «I would say that these books really helped me when I was very young… When I heard that this game was coming out, I felt very sad.»

The discourse around Rowling has become so heated that a Reddit thread discussing the game has reinstated the ban on speaking about her, citing concerns that «allowing conversation about JKR quickly turns into bigoted language towards LGBTQ+ people.»

Instead, users were encouraged to discuss the ethics of the game «in good faith» in a Separate Reddit mega thread.

On Twitch, some claimed they were being bullied and called them fans for streaming the game. Others said they would play the game just to spite the transgender community.

Some industry experts suggest that any representation in games is better than no inclusion.

«It’s important to get as much representation in games as possible of different types of people, different lifestyles, different ethnicities, different religions, different aspects of what we see in real life represented in games,» said Darion Lowenstein, a veteran of video game industry and consultant. that he is gay.

Even if the representation is imperfect, having diverse characters in a major game like Hogwarts Legacy could potentially open doors for future games that can refine the representation, Lowenstein said.

Still, those who boycott the game continue to insist that it is impossible to be an ally of the LGBTQ community and continue to play and support the game.

MSTRSSFOX said that he has already lost the people in his life who chose to play the game.

“These are not people that I consider my friends, because they chose their nostalgia over promoting trans rights, over promoting this message,” she said. «It’s unfortunate.»

Those behind the boycott said they ultimately hope to raise awareness and get more people involved in trans rights activism.

“I hope we can use this moment as a springboard for a broader discussion about the needs of creators,” Ripley said. «And the safety of the community in general.»

Valerie said she wants the protest to send a message to the trans community that despite the game’s success, there are allies who support and back them.

“I want the trans people in my life to know… that their rights are human rights,” Valerie said. We love you more than we love a stupid little video game.