Growing up as an introverted, queer brown kid in Texas, I found books to be an escape. Unsurprisingly, the Harry Potter series was a favorite.
How could it not have been? Written by author J.K. Rowling, the wizarding world was an escape from the harsh realities of the strict social construct that was my life. In the wizarding world, good overpowered evil and ignorance soundly. In the wizarding world, magic was real and chocolate frogs leaped out of windows.
But the magic and wonders of Harry Potter are a stark contrast to the realities the real world faces today. Good doesn’t always triumph over evil, and the fight for social equities of marginalized persons are often ignored. This is very much the case for Rowling and her recent bigoted comments.
As Twitter user Andy Mientus simply put it, “Hogwarts is fake. Trans people are real.”
To the disappointment of many, including myself, Rowling has contradicted her entire life’s work by discrediting the validity of trans people. In a series of tweets, Rowling claimed that people who menstruate are only women, and she has voiced support for a transphobic researcher who lost her job after tweeting that transgender women can’t change their biological sex.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you,” the author tweeted. “Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”
This sparked a backlash in the LGBTQ community and its respective allies. Rowling wasn’t having it. She continued to defend her argument by stating her existence as a cisgender female herself allows her to speak out against the identities of trans women.
As a cisgender gay man myself, let me first say that gender expression defies the binary whether society likes it or not. There is no one way to be a woman or a man. That’s the beautiful thing about expression — there are no limitations.
Rowling, an author who has profited from selling the idea that younger generations can be themselves, is now operating under the assumption that she can determine what is normal and what is not. In the words of Hermione Granger, “What an idiot.”
There is an inherent privilege in both Rowling and I speaking out on this topic. We are not trans and don’t know what it means to be living a trans reality. The difference though is what we have chosen to do with our cisgendered entitlement.
Rowling created a series that will no doubt continue to inspire for generations to come.
She also utilizes her smug, elitist privilege by tweeting out blind and bigoted comments. Afterward, she closes her laptop and finds innovative ways to profit from her transphobia. Under the male pseudonym Robert Galbraith, Rowling’s new book includes a character who is a male serial killer who dresses up as a woman to kill his female victims.
See the problem here?
Rowling’s true colors are now front and center, and she doesn’t care whether trans people are hurt in the process. For years, trans people have faced societal setbacks and have been seen as invalid, perverts and villains. Rowling hopes to continue that narrative.
Luckily, the cast of the Harry Potter film series and dedicated Wizarding World blogs have spoken out against the author. Why? Because we know better.
We grew up reading about Hermione Granger, Luna Lovegood, Rubeus Hagrid and others. Characters who were passionate advocates for social equity in a world filled with magic.
J.K. Rowling once believed that love will triumph over all and the sort of evil she now projects will be defeated. It is time to face reality and make it our responsibility, leaving Rowling in whatever alternative reality she now resides in.