Hogwarts Legacy has seemingly taken a step towards inclusivity with its first transgender character, Sirona Ryan. This single action sparked fierce debate and outrage all across the Internet. At first glance, the inclusivity may seem like a good thing, but here’s why people are angry.
J.K. Rowling and the TERF Movement
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is famous for many things. One of them is her outspoken anti-transgender stance, which is the reason many people have boycotted the Harry Potter franchise entirely. Opinions exist all across the spectrum, but many people hold the belief that giving money to anything Harry Potter related–including Hogwarts Legacy–supports J.K. Rowling and the TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) Movement.
Standing with the trans community is especially important right now, as there have been nearly 240 laws filed this year that target LGBTQ+ individuals. Unfortunately, trans rights are under attack, and in many states, access to gender-affirming care is being diminished or outlawed.
In the midst of all this uncertainty, more trans representation is a good thing, right?
There’s many qualms to be had with Hogwarts Legacy’s transgender character, from her name itself to her reason for existing in the game. A lot of “diversity” in media exists only to check a box, or to assure people that the game, movie, show, etc. does not hold any harmful views. In the case of Hogwarts Legacy, this may well be the case.
Game director Alan Tew, when asked about the situation, said: “We know our fans fell in love with the Wizarding World, and we believe they fell in love with it for the right reasons. We know that’s a diverse audience. For us it’s making sure that the audience, who always dreamed of having this game, had the opportunity to feel welcomed back. That they have a home here and that it’s a good place to tell their story.”
The quote definitely sounds nice, but it’s hard to take seriously when J.K. Rowling is directly profiting off of game royalties. So, with that said, here’s some of the other problems people had with transgender character Sirona Ryan.
Twitter users were quick to point out that Sirona has an extremely “masculine” name, sounding like “Sir” Rona Ryan. Stereotypical names aren’t anything new from Rowling, who brought us names such as “Cho Chang,” “Kingsley Shacklebolt,” and “Anthony Goldstein.”
More controversy arose from Sirona’s deep voice and more “masculine” appearance. Of course, there is no one “correct” way to be transgender, and in real life, it should not matter if people “pass” as their respective gender or not. However, considering that Sirona is fictional, and every choice made was intentional by the game developers, a bit of analysis is welcome.
Overall, Hogwarts Legacy has been slammed for trying to fight off anti-trans associations with a shoehorned transgender character who adds little depth or importance to the game. This isn’t the first time a company has done this, and I’m sure it won’t be the last. However, it’s 2023, and people aren’t falling for it anymore.
As researcher Liam Robertson stated, “Sirona Ryan isn’t there to open up a conversation about trans representation–[she’s] there to shut it down.”
I won’t make the decision for you about whether to purchase Hogwarts Legacy or not. I will say, however, that there’s plenty of other fun (and guilt-free!) games out there. Click here for recommendations!
For more about J.K. Rowling’s harmful views, click here.