At this point, it is a cliche to say that I am unsurprised by the actions and ideology of J.K. Rowling when it comes to trans individuals and their identities. I have lost much of my hope regarding whether or not she will come to see us as we see ourselves, and not as the grotesque caricatures that she writes about in her novels. When I first saw the news about her new novel I was angry. But anger is sad’s bodyguard, and really I’m just sad. I’m sad because J.K. Rowling is a powerful person who wields enormous influence over our culture. Words have immense power in this world, and books are indeed weapons. I learned that lesson from her, funnily enough. And this 900-page novel is a weapon against trans communities. It is a weapon against trans women. It seeks to delegitimize the trans experience, to poison minds against us. Just the idea of this book does so. I almost didn’t write this post because I didn’t want to spread the miasma. People don’t need to read all 900 pages — just the idea that someone of JKR’s stature would believe in the premise of this story is enough to plant the seed in the minds of millions. I don’t want to propagate that, but I can’t stay silent about it either.
Anyone who knows me knows that I love ‘Harry Potter’. When I was younger it was all I would ever talk about. I called the books my religion long before I ever listened to Harry Potter and the Sacred Text. Joining the Harry Potter Alliance felt as natural as breathing because it was ‘Harry Potter’ that taught me what it is to fight for what I believe in, to combat oppression, to never give in to that which sought to destroy what and who I loved. As I grew older I realized that ‘Harry Potter’ is flawed. And in the past few years it has become clear to me that its author is incredibly flawed herself.
I hope I don’t have to tell you that what she is doing is wrong. I hope I don’t have to tell you that trans women are women and trans men are men and that nonbinary people (like me!) exist and that we’ve all been here all along even if the labels and pronouns we use haven’t existed since the beginning of time because — by the way — neither has gender as we know it today. I do know that I need to say these things, though, because the most insidious part of her narrative is the way she makes herself sound reasonable. The way that she plays her cards carefully and sets herself up as the victim and the victor in these battles by telling half truths and twisting words until one can’t help but believe that she, the highly successful billionaire, is completely innocent. Meanwhile, according to her narrative, the real people to blame are those within the marginalized populations whom she is subjecting to further abuse along with those that defend them.
In a world that already feels like so much is falling apart, the fact that she is acting in this way is heartbreaking. Some people might think that I say this because of my love for Harry Potter; anyone who knows me knows of my adoration of the series. But honestly? Though the golden baubles that hold my memories of Harry Potter are covered in smoke, they are unpenetrated despite the mar they leave on my hands. The source of my pain is not in my connection to the books, it is not in what the books have done for my life. I mourn the loss of what the books could have been to others. I mourn the many young people who will not have Hermione as the same role model that I did. There is a sick feeling in me as I see how people who are not able to divorce the author from the series hate the thing I love. And I can’t even blame them because this whole situation feels like a betrayal, a violation. If everything I gave her — my love, my adoration, my trust, my goodwill, my hopes and dreams — was a piece of gold, she has in return covered it in molten tar. This is a pain worse for me than the loss of a lover. This is a loss of a piece of myself.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the depths of my adoration for ‘Harry Potter’, that might sound dramatic, but ‘Harry Potter’ saved my life a dozen times over, if not more so. For so much of my life I rooted myself in it and now I don’t know how to escape. I know there are those who won’t understand my ability to love ‘Harry Potter’ and despise J.K. Rowling in the same breath. And I hold no ill will towards those who divorce themselves from the series entirely. I admire their strength, and I hope they will forgive the fact that I cannot yet do the same.