I always find it interesting when authors can write these intricate, fleshed out stories with well developed characters and complex world building, but can't manage to write a 260 character tweet without sounding ignorant.
The disappointment that fans have had towards the author of the Harry Potter series isn't anything new. Rowling has become infamous to trying to revise characters by claiming they had always been some kind of minority in a disingenuous attempt to gain diversity points. Rowling's main cast of the Potter series is largely white, with the only characters of color being in the background and heavily based on stereotypes. They are also mostly, if not all, able bodied and heterosexual.
While, yes, representation is important and the lack of diversity in the Harry Potter series is disappointing, by revising characters years after the series has ended to make the series look less exclusionary she is trivializing the issue to make herself look better. If she wanted to have one of her main characters be gay, she should have portrayed him that way in the original series,
J.K. Rowling has only dug herself further into this hole since she first began to receive some of this criticism. Last week, on June 6th, the Harry Potter author posted a series of tweets that were incredibly insensitive towards the trans community.
It began with her response to the title of a news article, "Creating a More Equal Post Covid-19 World For People Who Menstruate" to which Rowling quote-replied, " 'People who menstruate' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
The article using "people who menstruate" rather than "women" is an effort to include trans men and non-binary people who still experience menstruation, but do not identify as women. Trans men are men, and just because they may have periods, does not make them a woman. Moreover, trans women don't experience periods, and that doesn't make them less of women. There are also plenty of cis-gender women who don't experience menstruation.The author of that article understood all of this, even if J.K. Rowling doesn't.
It could be assumed that Rowling is just ignorant, and wasn't aware that the article was trying to be inclusive of trans men. However, her tweets that followed prove that she is all to aware of the intent, and even goes on to express the importance of sex, implying that trans inclusion is a threat to feminism.
Rowling is completely missing the point. No one who wrote that article or disagreed with her original tweet is trying to invalidate women or biological sex. She, on the other hand, is continuously invalidating the trans community.
No one is trying to erase sex, we are simply saying that sex does not equate to gender. Therefore, gender does not equate to specific biological functions such as menstruation. This is not erasing the experience or hardship women face in any way. Additionally, the way Rowling phrases that last tweet, "I'd march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans," is poorly done. The if implies that trans people don't experience discrimination everyday-- much more, honestly, than she will experience as a straight, cis, rich, white woman.
Her promise is also empty. Just days ago, the Trump administration removed protections from the trans community that stopped the discrimination against LGBTQ people in terms of medical treatment and health care. Rowling was silent. So where is this promised advocacy? Where is this "love" and "kinship" she speaks of?
Trans women are women, and must be included in feminism. If your feminism only applies to cis women, it is not feminism. This is a concept that Rowling has yet to understand.
The Harry Potter series has become much larger than just the woman who first created the story. These books and movies were obviously wildly successful, and they were successful for a reason. People found comfort and solace in the pages of those books, in those characters and in that universe. Knowing that the author who wrote those words is less than accepting of communities many readers are part of or care about can be a devastating realization.
But if you're someone who's fallen in love with this universe, but is hurt by Rowling's words, know that this story is much bigger than just one woman.
Several Harry Potter actors even came forward to express that they did not agree with Rowling's statements. Daniel Radcliffe himself posted a statement on The Trevor Project blog just two days after J.K Rowling's tweets.
To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don't entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.''
The rest of the golden trio, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, both spoke out in support of the trans community following Rowling's statements as well. Grint told The Sunday Times that he fully supports the trans community. He said, "Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment."
Emma Watson posted her statement on social media, saying, "Trans people are who they say they are, and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren't who they say they are."
Let me clarify that this is not about a feud between the Harry Potter author and stars, it is not them turning on her, this is the Harry Potter actors supporting the trans community, as they should. Many people in the trans community have supported them all as well as Rowling for years, and it only seems fair that they do the same.
I personally found Radcliffe's statement especially touching, it is evident that he truly cares for not only his fans but trans people in their entirety. By making this statement, he is allowing those who love Harry Potter to continue doing so because, well, you can't argue with Harry Potter himself.
In addition to the actors speaking out, several other Young Adult authors expressed their support for trans people after Rowling's tweets.
Leigh Bardugo, the author of the Grishaverse triology as well a the Six of Crows duology tweeted:
In her replies, she received some criticism from her followers. After trying to engage in a thoughtful and civil conversation, someone replied with something blatantly transphobic. This user happened to have the name of one of Bardugo's main characters, Kaz Brekker in their username. Bardgugo replied, saying:
Additionally, Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson series tweeted a thread of trans and nonbinary authors, while also quoting several fans' tweets and showing his support for the trans community.
Cassandra Clare, author of the Shadowhunters Chronicles books posted her support for the trans community along with fan art of one of her trans characters, Diana Wrayburn.
Becky Albertalli, the author of several LGBTQ YA novels and most notably Simon vs the Homosapien agenda, posted that she donated $134.99 to the Black Trans Fund-- the exact cost of a Harry Potter box set.
If you are looking for a way to support black trans and non-binary authors now, a new book titled Felix Ever After was released by Kacen Callendar, who has won the Stonewall and Lamda awards. This book has already received significant praise.
Despite the initial hurt that many felt by Rowling's comments, the out pour of support from other authors and the Harry Potter cast, especially during pride month, was especially uplifting.
Don't let Rowling's comments diminish the magic of Harry Potter for you. Remember, trans rights are human rights.