Why J.K. Rowling’s transphobia is so disappointing


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J.K. Rowling has managed to establish herself as one of 2020’s biggest personal disappointments for me, and that’s saying quite a lot given the dumpster fire that this year has shaped up to be.

Back in June, the Harry Potter author took to Twitter—during Pride month, amidst a global pandemic, as if to double-down on the blatantly problematic and offensive nature of her opinions—to voice her pointed views regarding the rights of transgender people.

Rowling shared an independently penned 3,500 word essay that is filled with TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) talking points where she expressed beliefs that center on the validity of trans people and their freedom to self-identify their gender.

This bizarrely-timed transphobic rhetoric is upsetting and massively disappointing, to say the least.

She is perhaps one of the most well-known authors from the past 20 years, having written a book series that is pretty much universally known and recognized around the world.

I grew up with the Harry Potter series as countless others did. I can easily say that it helped shape my childhood into what it was, sparked my love of reading and writing and became something that I was passionate about and treasured close to me for years.

I adored those books and their fictional world, and to see the creator of it so easily diminish that legacy and impact with a string of tweets and a shittily-composed paper merely used as a soapbox to express her bigotry—well, it hurts—and that’s coming from a cisgender, straight woman.

The level of pain and betrayal that I’ve seen shared and expressed on social media from trans and LGBTQ+ people who were once fans of Rowling’s work is terrible. I can’t imagine grappling with the reality that a public figure you once respected, looked up to and admired for their contributions to the written world, suddenly expressed the belief that you, a person worthy of equality and respect, did not have an identity that was seen as valid in their eyes.

For a body of work that was seemingly built on the concept of acceptance and conquering hate with love, its author is certainly doing whatever she can to go against those morals with every 280-character hate post that she chooses to share.

There is no excuse for this behaviour. The crusade that Rowling has chosen to put herself behind in order to promote these anti-trans opinions is nothing short of reprehensible.

When the media and entertainment industry are already so saturated with privilege—a recent Vanity Fair article cited a study which found that “94 [per cent] of British journalists are white, with another finding that over half come from private schools (an eternal indicator of Britain’s class system)”—it is unsurprising but no less disheartening when another prominent voice contributes to the lack of representation that already exists in this space.

Many members of the Harry Potter film cast have since spoken out against Rowling’s uneducated remarks. 

Daniel Radcliffe provided a statement to The Trevor Project that highlighted his support for the gender expression and rights of trans people and said, “If you believe that a particular character is trans, non-binary 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.”

Regardless, it is incredibly unfortunate that a series that has brought so much joy and comfort to millions is being tarnished because of the intolerant hill its writer is willing to die on.

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