Sirona Ryan is a new character featured in "Hogwarts Legacy," the role-playing video game set for release Friday. Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Games
Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Hogwarts Legacy, the new role-playing video game set in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, appears to have introduced the franchise's first transgender character amid controversy surrounding author J.K. Rowling's comments toward the transgender community.
The new character, called Sirona Ryan, is a witch who owns the Three Broomsticks in Hogsmeade village. While the character is not introduced specifically as trans, the game's dialogue suggests it as Sirona talks about a goblin named Lodgok.
"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," Sirona says.
When the game is released Friday, Hogwarts Legacy gamers will be able to create gender non-conforming characters and can choose from either masculine or feminine voices. Other characters in the game also use the gender-neutral they/them/their when referring to the new character.
While Hogwarts Legacy game director Alan Tew did not confirm Sirona is transgender, he did say he worked diligently to include the Wizarding World's large audience.
"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," Tew said.
The game's release comes two years after Rowling was called anti-trans for taking issue with a headline for an article, "Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate."
"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," Rowling tweeted in response. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
Since the tweet, Rowling has defended her remarks in a series of posts.
"I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth," Rowling said.
Rowling, who was chastised for her comments by the transgender community, was also called out by actor Daniel Radcliffe, known for his role as the title character in the Harry Potter films. Radcliffe apologized to fans in 2020, saying "transgender women are women."
Hogwarts Legacy is set for release Friday on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S and PC.