Hogwarts Legacy’s trans character Sirona Ryan slammed as ‘forced’ and ‘ungenuine’ by gamers
Trans gamers have expressed their confused disdain for the “insincere” trans representation in Hogwarts Legacy.
Trans witch Sirona Ryan appears as a barkeeper for the local tavern The Three Broomsticks and serves as a sympathetic ear for the game’s lead character.
But activists and allies aren’t celebrating the inclusion of a trans witch, considering the controversy surrounding Hogwarts Legacy and its association with JK Rowling.
Some have told PinkNews it feels “insincere” and to “shut trans people up” while others complained about the name of the character containing the honorific “sir,” – similar to various other names within the Harry Potter universe which have been deemed offensive, such as Cho Chang and Kingsley Shacklebolt.
Even in-house developers have allegedly complained about the character’s inclusion, according to trans journalist James Stephanie Sterling, who says they were told by a developer that Sirona Ryan was added “to pivot the conversation away from [JK Rowling]”.
The claims were corroborated by researcher Liam Robertson, who was reportedly told by a developer that the character was “performative bulls**t”.
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Robertson tells PinkNews that developers first mentioned a trans character appearing in the game around the start of 2021, at the same time that former lead designer Troy Leavitt’s far-right YouTube channel was uncovered.
Robertson claimed Sirona Ryan was not the first iteration of a trans character in the game, and says originally a professor at Hogwarts was to have been trans.
“Its inclusion was received poorly by the few developers I spoke with,” he says.
“All of them seemed to suggest that it was hastily tacked on to hand wave criticism that the game was associated with transphobia.”
There’s no suggestion of the trans professor existing in the final release version of the game, meaning that the character was either scrapped or “retooled” into Sirona Ryan for the final cut.
But the developers working on Hogwarts Legacy don’t feel much better about her as a character, reportedly calling it “performative nothingness made to muddy the waters and deflect criticism”.
PinkNews has contacted Warner Bros Interactive for comment.
Trans community reacts to Sirona Ryan – and they aren’t thrilled
While Sirona Ryan’s inclusion may have been to help alleviate the pressure of working on a project so closely associated with JK Rowling, the attempt seems to have backfired.
Trans people across social media have said the attempt at representation is it “forced” and “ungenuine”.
Trans activist and gamer Isabelle told PinkNews that her initial reaction was one of shock upon hearing about Sirona Ryan.
“Seriously? ‘Sir’-ona?” she says.
“Then she has a [traditionally male] name for her surname.
“Note that Harry Potter naming conventions are really heavy on the surnames outside the circle of Harry’s direct peers, so this means that if Sirona [was] in other media, she’d be customarily referred to as ‘Ryan’.”
Isabelle believes that, for all the flaws surrounding the character’s inclusion, those who are criticising her so-called “non-passing” voice are coming from a subconsciously transphobic perspective.
“I also don’t believe she was voiced by a man,” Isabelle adds.
“We risk doing collateral damage to ourselves if we dunk too hard on the ways in which Sirona doesn’t pass.”
Trans filmmaker Mia Moore felt a similar wave of animosity towards the character upon seeing her for the first time, but argued that, while the name is unfortunate, it wasn’t deliberate.
“The character’s name was probably a genuine fluke they hadn’t considered. It shows how little thought went into every aspect of the game, but I don’t think it was intentionally transphobic,” she tells PinkNews.
Moore argues that Sirona Ryan wasn’t even an act of inclusion at all, but that she was created to “shut trans people up,” rather than try to genuinely create a representative trans character in the wizarding world.
“It’s frustrating to see all the incredible projects my peers and I are pitching that are gatekept out of the industry while cis storytellers can just throw a trans character in the pot to check a diversity box and assuage their guilt.”
Developers seem reluctant to discuss Sirona
Questions posed by Robertson to Hogwarts Legacy’s developers seem to confirm Sirona’s positioning as a wall between trans activists and development officials.
He claims publisher Warner Bros were reportedly reluctant to answer even the most basic questions about Sirona Ryan, including when she was added to the game.
While representatives at Portkey Games have mentioned the character in an interview with IGN, very little information was actually given about where the concept came from, or when.
“They want to have their cake and eat it,” Robertson said. “They want people to praise this slither of representation without anyone actually analysing it.
“That’s because Sirona Ryan isn’t there to open up a conversation about trans representation – [she’s] there to shut it down.”
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