Growing up, reading books always gave me a sense of wonder. Being able to immerse myself in another world gave me an escape from real life. If you were to ask me what my favorite book series was a week ago, I would probably have said "Harry Potter." Despite technically being a kid's book, I held "Harry Potter" as arguably one of the greatest works published within the realm of modern literature.
The series, which includes seven books, tells the story of a young boy named Harry Potter who discovers that he is a wizard. At only 11 years old, Harry attends Hogwarts, a school that teaches magic to young witches and wizards. Harry meets Hermoine Granger, a witch, and Ron Weasley, a wizard, two students in his class. They become friends and face challenges together through the rest of the series. All three of these characters were inspirations for me when I was younger, and I still try and emulate the strength and wisdom of Hermione on a daily basis.
J.K. Rowling, the author of the "Harry Potter" series, was a huge inspiration to me as well.
At the time "Harry Potter" was published, Rowling was living in a studio apartment in Yate, England. A single mother, Rowling struggled to support herself and her newborn daughter without a job. For a time, she was unable to buy enough food for her daughter and was forced to go on welfare. Penniless, jobless, and hopeless, Rowling turned her energy to writing. After getting the idea for "Harry Potter," she wrote the first book of the series, "The Philosopher's Stone," over six years. She was turned down by 12 publishers before finally partnering with Dana Hall Publishing. Ten years later in 2007, more 500 million copies of Rowling's books had been sold, and the series was turned into major motion pictures.
Rowling's current estimated net worth is just over $2 billion, making her one of the richest authors of all time.
Her story is a true "rags to riches" tale.
As an aspiring writer myself, Rowling was a huge inspiration for me.
Not only was she one of the richest and perhaps most famous authors of all time, she had written one of the most original and creative stories I had ever read. I was in awe of her.
So when she tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a former government worker in the U.K. whose job contract was not renewed after speaking out against an act intended to support trans people, I was not only disappointed, I was incredibly shocked.
"Dress however you please. Call yourself what you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill," the tweet read.
The debate over trans rights and women's rights is dominating the U.K.'s political realm. After extensive protesting, the U.K. government began to address issues within the preexisting Gender Recognition Act, passed in 2004. The Gender Recognition Act currently in place creates many barriers for the trans community to receive medical treatment, legal recognition, and social accommodations. Those in favor of a new Gender Recognition Act have described the present bill as traumatic and demeaning.
Maya Forstater, a government finance employee, did not receive a renewed contract after she tweeted against the new Gender Recognition Act, stating that it was "like forcing Jewish people to eat pork." A judge characterized her statements as "absolutist," and "not worthy of respect in a democratic society."
Rowling tweeted in support for Forstater's claim, making her stance on the Gender Recognition Act perfectly clear to me.
To me, Rowling has always been a shining symbol of feminism in literature. She was a forward-thinking, strong-minded woman who would do whatever it took to accomplish her goals. When I read "Harry Potter," I felt as if she mirrored the protagonists' in her story: intelligent, courageous, and upright. Her tweet on Thursday will forever transform my perspective of her and her books. Rowling's stance with Forstater dismantles her image as a forward-thinker.
While I still think of "Harry Potter" as a great work in modern literature, it has lost part of its magic.