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Hogwarts Legacy comes under fire for Trans NPC

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Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Games
Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Games

Noted transphobe J.K. Rowling returned to the spotlight ahead of the launch of Hogwarts Legacy, a videogame set in Harry Potter universe, when developers of the game introduced a Trans NPC named Sirona Ryan. Sirona is the first Trans character introduced to the Wizarding World.

The fictional bartender and owner of the Three Broomsticks has come under scrutiny for a number of reasons, not the least of which is her name.

Though she is named for the Celtic goddess of healing, many online have called attention to the fact that the word "Sir," a traditionally male honorific, is present in the beginning of the word "Sirona," and that Rowling is infamously meticulous about the sometimes problematic names she gives her characters. The once-beloved children's author has gone on record explaining the in-depth thought process behind the names of characters like Mundungus Fletcher and Severus Snape, among others, but named her only Asian character Cho Chang.

Some even drew parallels to Rowling's other pen name, Robert Galbraith, which, despite the author's denial, is often speculated to be a nod to anti-LGBTQ+ therapist Robert Galbraith Heath, who touted shock therapy and conversion practices to "cure" Gay men.

Other criticisms of the character stemmed from the way she is portrayed in-game. Denizens of TransTok judged Sirona's design, saying she looks "bricky," a derogatory slang term used to describe Trans women who appear "too masculine" or who "aren't passing," while residents of Queer Twitter said it sounded as though she was voiced by a cis male actor. Sirona is reportedly voiced by Trans actress Rebecca Root, but Root has not stepped forward to confirm despite being listed in the game's credits.

In a statement to gaming news website IGN, a representative of game developer Avalanche Software said that Sirona Ryan was included because they "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."

Image courtesy of Warner Bros. Games  

Video of gameplay introducing the character is available on YouTube. In the game footage, the player is seen entering the Three Broomsticks and talking to Sirona, who is cleaning glasses behind the bar. It is revealed that Sirona is friends with a goblin the player is looking for and that many of Sirona's old classmates didn't recognize her at first when she took proprietorship of the pub. "It took them a second to realize I was actually a witch, not a wizard," she tells the player. She appears to play an incredibly minor role in the overall plot of the game.

On the subject of gameplay, Hogwarts Legacy noticeably doesn't ask players to choose a gender during character creation. Instead, players are asked to choose between two voice options and whether they wish to sleep in the Wizards' or Witches' dorms. This appears to be in keeping with Avalanche's promise of inclusivity.

Hogwarts Legacy was officially released on February 10 and had nearly 500,000 playing it pre-release, despite continued online rallying against Rowling's harmful views. Rowling was largely uninvolved with the development of Hogwarts Legacy, but according to Forbes she will be receiving royalties for the game's sales.

Currently, the 57-year-old author's net worth is $1 billion.

It is predicted by the SGN that Millennials will continue to judge one another upon meeting based on their Hogwarts houses alone.