Hogwarts Legacy developers explain why they created first trans Harry Potter character

A screenshot from Hogwarts Legacy video game showing trans character Sirona Ryan wearing a white shirt and brown waistcoat

Developers on Hogwarts Legacy have responded to the seething backlash from the reveal of its inclusion of a trans character.

The highly controversial video game brought yet another divisive wave of criticism following a reveal that the game would feature a trans barkeep known as Sirona Ryan.

Several LGBTQ+ activists said the move felt insincere, while journalists claimed that developers working on the project felt Ryan’s inclusion was “performative bulls**t”.

Non-binary activist and video game journalist James Stephanie Sterling tweeted on Monday (6 February) that a member of the team allegedly added the character as a way to “pivot the conversation away from JK Rowling”.

Additionally, Sirona Ryan is reportedly “barely in” the video game, with Sterling commenting on Twitter that the developer described the game “in their words” as a “rushed, limited license game that people will realise isn’t Harry Potter Skyrim“.

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In response to the growing backlash, developer Portkey Games – which is working with both Warner Bros Interactive and Avalanche Software on the project – told IGN that it had planned for Sirona Ryan’s inclusion early on.

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“It has been a high priority throughout the development of Hogwarts Legacy to create a game that is representative and diverse,” a spokesperson said. “The best way to get to know any character is to delve into the game.”

Ryan is first met in the local tavern named The Three Broomsticks and serves as a sympathetic ear to the player’s custom character.

While there is no voice actor currently credited for Sirona Ryan’s voice, activist Laura Kate Dale noted that “there is one trans woman voice actor listed in the credits”.

Effectively nothing was known about Ryan’s existence, nor that she was trans, since marketing for the game began in 2020.

This is despite plenty of evidence that trans custom characters were a possibility in Hogwarts Legacy being known publicly since at least 2021.

This has led some to question why Portkey Games didn’t reveal that a trans character was allegedly planned early on in the development cycle with a divisive issue on trans rights, while others have theorised that the character was added later in development.

In response, a spokesperson said: “As with most of the game, we want players to discover all of the different elements of the story and gameplay as they play through it.

“The team felt 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.”

Harry Potter has been routinely criticised for various issues regarding its treatment of minority groups.

Activists have often condemned “ridiculous” names for minority characters such as Asian witch Cho Chang and Black wizard Kingsley Shacklebolt.

Additionally, there have been accusations of antisemitic tropes within the book series, especially involving the goblins.

Further criticism on this subject was put towards Hogwarts Legacy, in which the goblins stage a revolt against those that enslave them – and are also the enemies.