Warner Bros. Games
The Harry Potter universe seemingly introduces its first transgender character in the new video game Hogwarts Legacy.
The game (available on select platforms this Friday) features a character who runs the Three Broomsticks named Sirona Ryan, who gamers believe to be transgender based on a line of dialogue, though it's never explicitly clarified.
According to CNN, Sirona says at one point, "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."
The inclusion of a transgender character comes after J.K. Rowling, the author and creator of the Potter franchise, came under fire in June 2020 when she appeared to support anti-transgender sentiments in a series of tweets. Though she denied that her views on feminism are transphobic, she doubled down on her controversial standpoints in a lengthy essay shared on her website days later.
Responding to backlash back in June 2020, Rowling, now 57, wrote that she refuses to "bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it."
Rowling was not involved in the creation of the Hogwarts Legacy video game, according to its official website. "But," the site added, "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."
Warner Bros. Games Hogwarts Legacy (2023)
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A spokesperson for the game's studio, Portkey Games, which is a label under Warner Bros. Games, told IGN about featuring LGBTQ characters in the video game and intentionally making it more inclusive.
"It has been a high priority throughout the development of Hogwarts Legacy to create a game that is representative and diverse, aligning with our wonderful fan community," said Portkey Games. "Offering players choices in the way they play the game is an element that we have worked on since the start of development. The Character Creator is just one example of that and of course, the large, diverse cast of characters present throughout the game have also had a huge amount of thought from Avalanche and Warner Bros. Games, as well as counsel from outside D&I experts."
Portkey Games added, "The team felt that it was very important to create a game that is representative of the rich and diverse world of Harry Potter as well as the groups of people who play games, which includes the LGBTQIA+ community. We have a diverse cast of characters that players will encounter throughout the game."
Bruce Glikas/FilmMagic J.K. Rowling
Potter movie actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have each spoken out against Rowling's much-criticized remarks regarding the transgender community. Radcliffe, 33, stated definitively in a previous essay for The Trevor Project that "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 or I," Radcliffe wrote at the time.
"According to The Trevor Project, 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity," he added. "It's clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."
Hogwarts Legacy is available for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S and PC this Friday, then for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One on April 4, and for Nintendo Switch on July 25.