Harry Potter just introduced its first canon trans character.
The new video game Hogwarts Legacy, which takes place in the world of J.K. Rowling’s books, will be released this upcoming Friday, February 10. As we’re getting closer to the game, fans are learning more about it, including that it features the franchise’s first trans character.
This character’s name is Sirona Ryan, a witch and bartender at the magical bar The Three Broomsticks. The game follows a fifth-year student at Hogwarts in the 1800s wizarding world. As your character travels the world, they can meet Sirona at the bar in the wizarding town of Hogsmeade.
Funnily enough, if Ryan had red hair, she’d even look a lot like a younger version of a certain transphobic Harry Potter author.
\u201c'I was actually a witch, not a wizard'\n\n'Hogwarts Legacy' may introduce the Wizarding World's first transgender character, Sirona Ryan\n\n(via @EW | https://t.co/aHTW06ZeVb)\u201d
When you meet Ryan in the game, you ask if she knows a goblin named Lodgok. Ryan replies that she “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.”
It’s not much, but it’s better than anything we got in the books! So, how did a trans woman end up in Hogsmeade? Well, the books’ TERF author was not involved directly in the making of the game — it just takes place in her world.
So, while Rowling wasn’t actually involved at all in the creation of the game or the character, it seems the game makers borrowed from her naming conventions when naming the character.
Fans have pointed out that the very first part of the trans woman’s name is “sir” and that the name also contains the word “aryan.” For a game trying to avoid connections to a transphobe who has found herself on the side of Nazis and fascists more often than not recently, a name basically equivalent to “Sir Aryan” is very unfortunate.
IGN was able to talk to Portkey Games, the company who made the game, about the character and her inception.
"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,” they said. “We have a diverse cast of characters that players will encounter throughout the game."
"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. Offering players choices in the way they play the game is an element that we have worked on since the start of development,” they added. “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."
Aside from critiques of Rowling’s transphobia, the game is facing a lot of backlash from critics who call the story antisemitic. The plot of the game involves your character deciding to support or oppose a Goblin Rebellion led by a goblin named Ranrok.
In the books and films, the goblins are antisemitic stereotype after antisemitic stereotype. They have large noses and sharp teeth, they’re greedy and materialistic, they control the banks, and they’re tricky and untrustworthy.
But hey, at least the game also has a trans woman character...