Hogwarts Legacy appears to feature a transgender character for the first time in the history of the Harry Potter franchise. The upcoming open-world, role-playing video game, which will be released on select consoles on February 10, will mark the debut of the character Sirona Ryan, who is a transgender witch who owns the Three Broomsticks pub. The character’s inclusion comes as Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s controversy, regarding her comments about transgender people, has continued.
One of the scenes in the game will reportedly feature players’ characters going into the Three Broomsticks and greeting Sirona, according to Game Revolution. The player will interact with her during a mission, when running an errand for a goblin named Lodgok. “Hadn’t seen him in years when he came in a few months ago. But, he recognized me instantly. Which is more than I can say for some of my own classmates. Took them a second to realize I was actually a witch, not a wizard,” she reportedly says in the game.
The inclusion of a seemingly transgender character comes nearly four years after Rowling was first accused of being transphobic over a series of tweets in 2019. In the years since then, the author has continued to face backlash as she’s shared more comments that have been called out as transphobic, including from actors who were involved in movies from the Wizarding World. Even Harry Potter himself Daniel Radcliffe released a statement defending trans people after her comments in June 2020. “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo [J.K. Rowling] or I,” he said.
Many fans of the series have called Rowling a “TERF” (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) for her comments. Rowling’s controversy has occasionally resurfaced a few times since the initial controversy, such as when she released a book in her Comoran Strike series, which involved a cisgender serial killer who disguised himself as a woman to attack his victims.
The video game’s website explains that while the game features creations by Rowling, she did not write the story that the game is based around. “J.K. Rowling is not involved in the creation of the game, but as creator of the wizarding world and one of the world’s greatest storytellers, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World. This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling, however we have collaborated closely with her team on all aspects of the game to ensure it remains in line with the magical experiences fans expect,” the site says.
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