Being a Harry Potter Fan Amidst JK Rowling’s Controversy
Since the age of three, I have been proud to call myself a Potterhead, a term I now use sparingly. No doubt, Harry Potter is controversial, no thanks to its author. I am utterly disappointed in her inhumane comments and unwillingness to accept a large majority of her audience: readers who seek her world for safety and comfort, a magical oasis to escape this cruel, muggle-ridden world.
Rowling’s first controversial tweet emerged on December 19th, 2019, masked in a feminist disguise. Rowling supported Maya Forester, a researcher who made transphobic comments, tweeting, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.” The first three lines were written and curated to strike her trans following, to make a point. If forcing Dumbledore out of the closet wasn’t enough, this is just the icing on top of the cake. Does this mean it’s the end of the Harry Potter era? Thankfully, to those who are Potterhead-identifying, no. Despite Rowling’s big mouth and dirty quill, Wizarding World Digital is still expanding the ever-growing Potter universe, dodging her comments, which blemish their magical playground.
In the following months, Rowling struck again, mask and gloves off. She tweeted, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Rowling received much-deserved backlash, which she responded to with a lengthy blog post on her website. She wrote, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real. The lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” She says she knows and loves trans people, yet says she doesn’t believe in breaking the barriers of biological sex, that it dilutes the experiences of “real woman.” Therefore, she’s unable to fully appreciate and understand the trans people she “knows” and “loves.” Rowling, how can you support those you love when you reject their identities? How can you see biology as a valid defense to contradict the glorious LGBTQIA+ confidence interwoven in our communities? Rowling, meet hypocrisy.
Honestly, I was in denial when the news first broke. Rowling was my inspiration to become a writer. The whimsical, charming, fantastical world she created allowed me to dive into parts of my imagination I had never explored. I would be a fool to deny Rowling’s countless triumphs and achievements. The world she has created and her amassed fanbase is compelling. She is ranked one of the most successful authors of all time, rightfully so. But for a woman of great intellect with a beautifully diverse following, her unwillingness to empathize with a majority of her readers is utterly disappointing. I will always love Harry Potter, but I still ask myself, “Can we separate the art from the artist?”
JK Rowling’s bigotry will forever stain her name, and, though it pains me to say, her brand. Us Potterheads might need to justify our love for her work for a very, very long time.