The immediate thought is likely, what in the world do these two topics have in common? But if you’ve been following the somehow muted but quite palpable outrage in the Gaulish Polytheism community, you’ll know the controversy surrounding the upcoming Hogwarts Legacy game and the transgender character Sirona Ryan.
Outside of Gaulish Polytheism, the controversy surrounds the Sir at the beginning of the name Sirona to intentionally be a nod towards misgendering trans women as “Sir”. However, the precedence of other names related to different Celtic (Gaulish/Irish/Welsh/etc.) deities in the fictional universe of the already controversial author J.K Rowling could suggest the makeup of the name choice is innocuous. However, that does not consider the harm surrounding tokenism and other parts of the Harry Potter IP.
Before going further, it should also be mentioned that from a religious standpoint, no actual harm has been done to Gaulish Polytheism as a result – we’re still a little-known polytheistic tradition. The harm done through anti-Semitic stereotypes in the portrayal of goblins, however, cannot be understated.
Further delving into the controversy, we aim to provide more than just trans perspectives on this controversial issue but also the perspective of Gaulish Polytheists. Many of whom are LGBTQIA+ also share concerns regarding the likelihood of intentional implications of masculinity with the “Sir-” present in the character’s first name, paired with a male first name as the family name. Regardless of any intentionality, the inclusion of a single trans character in the game cannot undo the real harm that JKR’s harmful, transphobic opinions have had, any more than claims of supporting Jewish people can undo the harm of perpetuating myths of blood libel in the form of the Hogwarts Legacy plot.
Before the inclusion of Sirona Ryan, Rosmerta in the Harry Potter universe is the owner of the Hogsmeade tavern, who is placed under the Imperial Curse that robs her of her free will. This character then does the bidding of the Death Eaters, servants of Voldemort, who is often likened to the wizard Hitler or at least the whole apparatus likened to Nazis. Modern Polytheists worship Rosmerta as the Great Provider (link to Segomaros article) and a Goddess of sovereignty, women, sexuality, and more. It says so much when a character using Her name is robbed of her own sovereignty by a man and becomes implicated in a fascist plot aimed at blood purity, especially when the characterization seems at least to draw some inspiration from the actual goddess Rosmerta.
Sirona Herself is the Goddess of the night sky, snakes, and waters, which many Gaulish polytheists correlate Her as a Celestial Snake of primordial origins. She’s also a healer; an individual within the community comes to mind who was able to escape drug addiction through Sirona’s healing, and many others look to Her for both mental and physical aid in recovery.
At the end of the day, we can’t control who uses the names of the deities we legitimately worship and honour as Gaulish Polytheists and how they might use those names. The best we can do is to take the space to say that Gaulish Polytheism is anti-fascist and does not tolerate hate, including transphobia.