JK Rowling’s transphobia is not harmless
Recently, the beloved author of the “Harry Potter” series, JK Rowling, revealed herself to be transphobic through a number of tweets. She did not apologize when called out, but rather doubled down, continuing to tweet transphobic content to this day.
This is difficult for many since the “Harry Potter” series was a part of many childhoods. Many people tend to separate the art from the artist, but that can downplay the harm that someone with influence can cause.
JK Rowling may have written a fantastic book series, but she is a wealthy and incredibly influential transphobe and that combination can do real harm.
Rowling’s first major transphobic move was a tweet in support of a woman whose contract wasn’t renewed at her job after making transphobic statements on Twitter. Rowling framed it as if people were being discriminated against for believing in biological sex, which nobody is saying isn’t real.
Her most recent transphobic action was sharing an article that used the phrase “people who menstruate” and insinuating that it should have just said “women” despite the fact that transgender men get periods, while many women don’t.
After being called out, she doubled down with a blog post that stereotyped trans women as predators trying to take up women’s spaces, implied that autistic trans people don’t know any better because they’re autistic and victimized herself by saying that people are just mad because she’s a woman who speaks her mind.
What she said was horrible, and since “Harry Potter” was a big part of a lot of people’s childhoods, many are having trouble reconciling her transphobia with her books. “Harry Potter” certainly has meaning for individuals beyond Rowling’s influence and it is completely OK to still enjoy the series.
Some people find comfort in the “Death of the Author” concept, which says an author’s political beliefs and past don’t matter when it comes to their writing. However, this concept is often used for writers like HP Lovecraft and William Shakespeare, who are actually dead.
The difference is that JK Rowling is still alive and so by continuing to support her work financially, we support her influence and therefore her transphobia. Rowling has a lot of money and has a lot of Twitter followers who she continuously spouts transphobic comments to.
These actions of hers have consequences as she continues to normalize transphobia to her followers.
Normalizing transphobia endorses the disenfranchisement of transgender people, so we cannot act like what she is doing isn’t harmful. It also isn’t as though she said one or two problematic things and apologized. She doubled down and continues to spread anti-trans content everyday.
We have to recognize that JK Rowling’s actions do real harm. Any transphobe’s actions are bad, but Rowling has a huge following and she legitimizes hateful transphobic ideas by posting about them.
Legitimizing these ideas leads to laws that hurt trans people, such as the recent reversal of transgender health care protections, and contributes to the astounding rate of hate crimes against trans people.
It is of course OK to still like “Harry Potter” and tune in to Freeform’s monthly marathon. However, we need to be aware of what we’re supporting when we buy “Harry Potter” merchandise or tickets to the next “Fantastic Beasts” movie.
We’re supporting a woman who is using her power to bash trans people and victimizes herself when called out.
It’s OK to still love the wizarding world, but we certainly cannot pretend to ignore the harm its creator is doing. We need to recognize it, condemn it and do our best to combat transphobia.
Anna Baker is an English sophomore who can be reached at [email protected]