Written by Grace Robinson
JK Rowling couldn’t have added anything worse to 2020 than her transphobic tweets. Not only does this hurt those who are Trans, but their partners, their family and members and allies of the LGBTQIA+ community.
Rowling, over the course of lockdown, tweeted a thread to argue her point against Trans rights and what space they are allowed to inhabit. She tried to justify her discrimination with the argument of biological sex; that we a born either male or female, which is outrageously absurd because gender and sex are different.
In 2020, no one should ask about gender as the sole definition of someone, and you shouldn’t comment on someone else’s gender because it’s no one’s business really. Rowling also seems to think that Trans rights will overshadow women’s rights. This is a lie. No fight will outshine the other, and this is a fight that need to unify all women, cis or trans.
To many Trans people and others, Harry Potter offered an escape from depression and anxiety.
Harry Potter has sold 500 million copies worldwide, showing its popularity as an all-time bestseller—it was somewhere children felt that they belonged. Rowling’s comments seem to ignore the lives of a significant part of the Harry Potter fanbase, even though Harry Potter has saved lives:
“I needed to know how the Harry Potter series would end,” said Kacen Callender, a Queer Trans author, writing about why they couldn’t kill themselves for Them.us.
This is the impact that Harry Potter made to people’s lives which is what Rowling is blind to.
Rowling taught a generation that no matter who they are, they have the power to be good and to overcome those who are spiteful and evil. This is ironic in itself because fighting even is the basic story to Harry Potter.
Callender is now a writer, themselves changing the lives of children and teens who can identify to the story they lead.
“When I started to realise I was Trans, a lot of the solace I took in ‘Harry Potter’ was that if I was magic, I could just use a spell to lower my voice,” said another Trans fan, AJ Solomon, talking to USA Today.
This just goes to show the immovable place Harry Potter has in the heart of Trans people all over the world. And JK Rowling refuses to see their existence and when she does, she views them as lesser.
In September, Rowling, under her pen name Robert Galbraith, released her new book ‘Troubled Blood’ about a man who dresses as a woman to kill women.
This inherently can be seen as transphobic due to the vilification of “men who wear dresses”. It’s a clear comment from Rowling on the allowance of women in single sex spaces and that they pose a threat to cis women, showing not only her transphobia on Twitter but in her written work too.
An earlier book from the same series, ‘The Silkworm’, also alludes to transphobia as it features a trans woman Pippa. Once her identity is revealed, her Adam’s apple is noted as well as her hands jammed in her pockets. Rowling also patronises Pippa for her creative ambitions, despite Rowling priding herself on her becoming successful whilst being a single mother.
Rowling’s transphobia didn’t just affect Trans people, it also impacted every Harry Potter fan. Once Rowling made her opinion clear, there was outrage, and rightly so:
The hashtag #ripjkrowling trended on Twitter, because Rowling was cast aside because of her opinions; fans on TikTok were painting over JK Rowling’s name on their Harry Potter books; book subscriptions such as Fairyloot and Illumicrate stopped featuring Harry Potter merchandise in their boxes; a Harry Potter read-along for people who had never read Harry Potter before was cancelled; Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have openly condemned Rowling’s opinion, and fans are now branding Radcliffe as the author of Harry Potter rather than Rowling.
Everyone reacted in some way to stop JK Rowling having the exposure she didn’t deserve.
This is where separating the Artist from the Art comes into play. Harry Potter has and still does have, a huge impact on fans’ lives to this day and for people to just erase Harry Potter from their lives is easier said than done.
Now, we need to teach children and others that what JK Rowling thinks is wrong, that it is the opposite of what the story of Harry Potter is about.
I have never read Harry Potter and I’ve only watched one film and I can vaguely remember what happens in it.
But I am part of many fandoms that would be disappointed if an author would express similar feelings like JK Rowling. However, a particular series close to my heart, Throne of Glass, lacks the diversity that we see in everyday life. As a reader and consumer, I know this is something that Sarah J Maas needs to improve upon, and I hope she does. Her recent novel Crescent City showed some improvement from her earlier works, but there still needs to be work. Which is the difference in Rowling as a writer—Rowling plays the victim and refuses to acknowledge her ignorance, whilst authors like Maas wish to improve on it.
What I’m trying to say is, for a reader to discover that the creator of a world they love and enjoy has said they don’t deserve to exist, is heart-breaking.
So, this is why fans are saying the author of Harry Potter is Daniel Radcliffe, because he has condemned the opinion of Rowling and has supported the Trans community.
Rowling has transformed herself into She That Shall Not Be Named.
Grace Robinson is a first-year English Student. She is passionate about Feminism, Politics and Society. You can find her on instagram: @grace.lizz12