As reviews dropped this morning, we were given more details about Hogwarts Legacy that hadn't been revealed in the promotional material and previews. One that is sparking a lot of discussion and debate is the inclusion of a transgender character, the first in the Harry Potter series. Given Rowling's continued transphobic views, many are using this as justification for supporting Hogwarts Legacy, citing this as proof that the author's bigotry is not a factor in the game.
However, according to two different sources, the sole reason for including a trans character was to take control of the conversation in this way. Individuals close to the project are reporting that the NPC was added to counter the critics calling for a boycott, with one source describing the inclusion as "performative bullshit".
This comes from both YouTuber Stephanie Sterling and Did You Know Gaming's Liam Robertson. They share information from sources attached to the production of Hogwarts Legacy, giving us some insight into the creation of Harry Potter's first transgender character, Sirona Ryan.
"I'm told they added a token trans NPC to pivot the conversation away from JKR," says Sterling. "They're barely in it."
Robertson says that he has heard this too, suggesting that the character was only added following the initial backlash towards the game. "There was apparently some trans representation added after some of the initial controversy," he says. "I don't know how it appears in the final product but one of the sources I talked to described it as 'performative bullshit'."
When made aware of the NPC, Robertson agreed that it was performative in the final product, saying that it would be used to "handwave concerns from the trans community instead of listening."
Indeed, we have already seen this take place. Those who claim to support the trans community but still want to play Hogwarts Legacy are pointing to the inclusion of this character as evidence of the game itself not being transphobic. Therefore, they argue that supporting the game does not support JK Rowling.
Despite this, Rowling has previously used the ongoing success of Harry Potter as a franchise to argue that many share her transphobic beliefs. Even if other arguments against the boycott are discounted (as many argue that reducing the amount of money she receives is pointless when she is already incredibly wealthy), it's clear that Harry Potter's continued success keeps her culturally relevant. It certainly gives her the belief that many support her transphobia, or at least don't see it as a deal breaker.
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