Why there are calls to boycott a new Harry Potter video game

  JK Rowling was not involved in the development of Hogwarts Legacy, which features the Harry Potter franchise's first transgender character, but she is set to profit from it amid criticism for views many perceive to be transphobic.

For the first time in the franchise's history, the Harry Potter universe will feature a transgender character.

Hogwarts Legacy, a video game set in the 19th century, includes an interaction with a new character called Sirona Ryan, a witch who runs the Three Broomsticks pub in the all-wizard village of Hogsmeade.

In it, Sirona speaks about her friendship with a goblin named Lodgok and how her school peers had a mistaken view of her gender.

"We met when I was waiting tables here as a student - well before I bought the place. He was cordial enough, but we weren’t friends then. His mistrust of wizardkind ran deep," she says.

"Hadn't seen him in years when he came in a few months ago. But, he recognised me instantly. Which is more than I can say for some of my own classmates. Took them a second to realise I was actually a witch, not a wizard."

Sirona Ryan is the Harry Potter series' first transgender character. Credit: WarnerBrosSirona Ryan is the Harry Potter series' first transgender character. Credit: WarnerBros

Hogwarts Legacy also reportedly allows players to create avatars using a mix of masculine and feminine appearances and voices, effectively allowing them to design their own transgender characters.

The appearance of a transgender character in the franchise is significant, given Harry Potter creator JK Rowling has generated controversy
in recent years for expressing views many perceive to be transphobic.

Previous comments by the 57-year-old led Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe
, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint to distance themselves from her and express their support for trans rights.

While Hogwarts Legacy's official website states Rowling was not involved in the development of the game, she will still profit from its licence.

As a result, many social media users are calling for the game to be boycotted. Others argue that buying or streaming the game doesn't necessarily mean they’re endorsing Rowling's views.

"Saying 'I support LGBT people and I am enjoying Hogwarts Legacy. I can separate my opinions from my entertainment' is just a different way to say 'I'm comfortable keeping the ally label I gave myself while willingly going against everything that label represents'," one transgender woman tweeted.

Some gaming websites have stated their refusal to review the Hogwarts Legacy, while Twitch stream team Boba Break said none of its members would be streaming or promoting it.

"Rowling's bigotry has real effects on legislation regarding trans rights and healthcare and turning a blind eye out of nostalgia for the series is foolish," Bobe Break tweeted.

Some social media users also labelled the introduction of a transgender character as a "tokenistic" response to backlash over Rowling's views.

"Trans people do not want to be added to a work based on the works and settings of notable bigots. You aren't balancing the scales, you are tokenising us," one person tweeted.

Hogwarts Legacy game director Alan Tew told US video game news and reviews website IGN last month the team was aware when developing the game that the Harry Potter franchise had 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," he said.

"That they have a home here and that it's a good place to tell their story."


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