J.K. Rowling is wrong

In case you missed it, the creator of Harry Potter has been on a transphobic tirade for the last little while. Since I’ve written quite a bit about Harry Potter on here, I thought I’d quickly address this. I’m not going to go into too much detail, there are much more detailed and well-researched resources that I will link to. I’m a cis woman and am no expert on trans rights, but I do want to take a sec to share that I’m against what JKR is doing and that I am supportive of the trans community.

To the trans community: you are seen, you are loved, and I will always do what I can to help you. You should never be asked to engage in a debate about your right to exist. I’m so very sorry this is happening and I will try to do what I can to undo some of this harm.

What happened?

After liking some transphobic tweets and complaining about gender-neutral language being used when describing menstruation, JKR wrote a long AF essay doubling down on her “gender critical” views. After the essay, JKR took to Twitter again sharing many problematic views, including her POV that gender confirmation treatment is akin to conversion therapy. Yep.

JKR’s essay argued many harmful things, including concerns about trans women having the right to use women’s bathrooms and change rooms. The diatribe was full of stats and facts that weren’t linked or backed up in any way, incomplete arguments and exaggerated points. I won’t link the essay here, but if you want to read it you can find it on her website.

If you do read the essay, please please balance out your perspective with some other resources. We all default to truth when we learn something for the first time, so it’s important to understand that the points raised in JKR’s essay are incomplete and incorrect.

Start by watching this:

And then read these:

And this:

What about freedom of speech?

What JKR is doing is not illegal, but it is harmful, and it’s not above criticism. We laypeople can use the internet to say whatever we like, the same way JKR can. But there is a power imbalance. JKR has over 14 million followers on Twitter, she is the most famous author ever and one of the most famous people ever. When you have a large audience, you do have a responsibility to avoid spreading misinformation. Celebrities can do real harm through misinformation, just look at the anti-vaxxer movement.

It looks like JKR really believes in what she’s saying, and she says she earnestly does not want to harm the trans community, but she is harming the trans community, regardless of her intent. Picking apart the validity of someone’s identity and existence is harmful, especially when referring to a community that is so historically oppressed.

Can we still be Harry Potter fans?

That’s your choice. For my part, I can’t forget all of the Harry Potter knowledge in my brain, so I will always be a fan. If you ask me a question about Harry Potter, I will always give you a five-to-ten paragraph response. And yet, it feels like my fandom has changed. To quote the series, when JKR showed her card “some inner certainty had crashed down.”

I still have Harry Potter merch on display in corners of my house – Chocolate Frog Cards on my desk, my Marauder’s Map in my room – I still wear my Harry Potter pyjamas regularly. I just don’t know if I can approach the series with the same enthusiasm that I used to. Maybe this will be my last Harry Potter blog post, maybe I won’t wear my Deathly Hallows necklace anymore. I don’t know.

If you, like me, are navigating your fandom in a new way, here are some more videos:

How can we help?

I’m no expert on trans rights, I’m still learning. I’m trying to listen to the trans community, donate to organizations like Mermaids, vote for politicians who support policies that protect trans people, and make sure that my identity as a feminist is trans-inclusive. It’s a start. Read more about being a good ally here.

See also:

Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash 

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