Harry Potter franchise to feature transgender character for first time

J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World appears set to welcome its first openly transgender character.

Sirona Ryan, who is reportedly a transgender witch, will appear in the soon-to-be released “Hogwarts Legacy” video game, which reimagines Rowling’s Wizarding World — based on the author’s “Harry Potter” novels — as a 19th-century role-playing game.

The gaming site GameRevolution was the first to report on Sirona Ryan’s introduction to the Wizarding World. “Hogwarts Legacy” game publisher Warner Bros. did not respond to a request for comment.

According to GameRevolution, “Hogwarts Legacy” players will interact with Sirona Ryan, the owner of the Three Broomsticks pub in the game’s Hogsmeade village, while searching for a goblin named Lodgok.

In response to a question about Lodgok’s whereabouts, Sirona Ryan says, “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 appearance of a transgender character in a universe created by Rowling is noteworthy given the author’s history of making comments criticized for being transphobic.

Most recently, in October, Rowling said she opposed proposed legislation in Scotland to allow individuals 16 years or older to obtain certificates that legally recognize their gender identity is not the gender they were assigned at birth.

According to the game’s website, Rowling was not involved in the creation of “Hogwarts Legacy” and is similarly uninvolved in the development of other games created by Portkey Games, the video game label owned by Warner Bros. that creates gaming experiences related to 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 game’s website reads.

But some gamers have decided to boycott “Hogwarts Legacy” regardless, claiming that Rowling’s support for anti-transgender policies and use of inflammatory rhetoric make it impossible to separate the art from the artist.

Trans Twitch streamer Veronica “Nikatine” Ripley announced Sunday that she would no longer stream on Twitch as long as the platform continues to show advertisements for “Hogwarts Legacy.”

“I call on every streamer to join me in taking a stand against bigotry, hatred and those who support such views,” Ripley wrote in a statement posted to Twitter. “I call on Twitch to end this harmful relationship with Hogwarts Legacy, and continue to take steps towards providing a safe space for the trans community.”

Last month, Sebastian Croft, who stars in Netflix’s LGBTQ teen drama “Heartstopper,” publicly apologized for his involvement in “Hogwarts Legacy” after it was revealed that he had been cast as the voice of one of the game’s playable characters.

“I was cast in this project over 3 years ago, back when all Harry Potter was to me, was the magical world I grew up with,” Croft wrote on Twitter. “This was long before I was aware of JK Rowling’s views. I believe wholeheartedly that trans women are women and trans men are men.”

“I know far more now than I did 3 years ago, and hope to learn far more in the next 3. I’m really sorry to anyone hurt by this announcement,” he wrote. “There is no LGB without the T.”

“Hogwarts Legacy” is slated to launch Feb. 10 for PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S and PC. The game will be available for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One in April and Nintendo Switch in July.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to The Hill.