J.K. Rowling and Transphobia

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J. K. Rowling's infamous tweet supporting Maya Forstater, a British TERF who lost an employment tribunal seeking to legally enshrine her anti-trans views.

J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter series, has increasingly come under fire in recent years for social media activity and views promoting trans exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) theories and views. Beginning in 2017, J.K. Rowling was spotted interacting with articles and tweets by known transphobes, following a number of transphobic figures and liking tweets that promoted transphobic views.

These revelations led to increasing dismay, denial and outrage from many fans of the series, particularly trans fans of Harry Potter who have long found solace and empowerment in the series' messages and characters. Others have pointed out that these views and attitudes have been embedded in the series since the beginning, particularly in the way the character of Rita Skeeter is written[1]; they are also reflected in Rowling's Cormoran Strike series, written under the penname Robert Galbraith.

In 2020, incontrovertible proof of these views - and an essay published to Rowling's personal website in which she expounded on them and attempted to defend her position - led to widespread backlash among the Harry Potter fandom (although many others have stood by the author). A number of non-fandom figures including actors who had starred in the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts films publicly declared their support for trans rights and condemned or criticised Rowling's views.

The debate has also spurred fans to organise challenges and publish fanworks featuring trans headcanons and characterisations, as well as create meta discussing the implications of Rowling's views for the canon and for fans of the world of Harry Potter.

Timeline of J.K. Rowling's Transphobia

Cultural Background

While generally the province of conservatives, anti-trans views have become notably entrenched in the British left, especially among British feminists, and have come to dominate mainstream media discourse in the UK.[2][3][4][5] Some have suggested that this is the legacy of the British skeptic movement of the early 2000s and its focus on debunking "junk science," which for many included the social sciences and not just overtly pseudoscientific practices like homeopathy.[5][4] Others assert that the "middle- and upper-class white feminists" of Britain have not yet faced an intersectional feminist reckoning.[5] Mumsnet, a popular British parenting website, has been implicated in the spread of transphobic views among British feminists, with one writer declaring it is to "British transphobia" what "4Chan is to American fascism."[4] Rowling's transphobia may thus be understood as symptomatic of trends affecting wider British culture.[6][7]

First Indications

Perhaps the first hint of Rowling's budding transphobia was in her 2014 novel The Silkworm, the second installment of her Cormoran Strike mystery series, published under her pseudonym "Robert Galbraith".[8] In the novel, protagonist Strike warns a trans woman who tries to flee after attacking him that she will "go down for attempted murder" if he calls the police "and it won't be fun [...] not pre-op," the implication being that she will be sent to a men's prison and subjected to prison rape.[8] The description of the character, Pippa, notes her Adam's apple and large hands.[8]

It was widely speculated that this pseud had something to say besides proving transphobic traits in JKR's texts. Investigations indicated that the Robert Galbraith nom de plume matched the name of an anti-LGBTQIAP+ Conversion Therapist, who in the 1920s proposed conversion therapies in order to cure homosexuality. Rowling quickly acted to try to disprove this, creating a story that she had never heard of the therapist and that this pseudonym was a tribute a Robert F. Kennedy. But many criticized the author, saying that one should never use a name without first researching its implications and links in the past, and that it was very naive to believe that the pen name she had chosen -- with the recent revelation of her transphobic attitude -- was just a coincidence.[9]

In October 2017, Rowling liked a tweet promoting a transphobic Medium article.[10] Although a few fans took notice and were alarmed, the incident did not attract wider attention or commentary. This was the first overt evidence that Rowling was flirting with transphobic views. Rowling would later admit that she began "reading books, blogs and scientific papers" relating to gender in 2017.[11]

In March 2018, Rowling liked a tweet by a vocal transphobe that referred to transgender women as "men in dresses".[12] A number of fans tweeted condemning this action and demanding an explanation.[13][14][15] The issue was covered by major media outlets, including Newsweek,[16] The Daily Dot,[17] and the Huffington Post.[18] At the time, Rowling's spokesperson attempted to dismiss her liking of the tweet as an accident, calling it a "clumsy middle-aged moment" caused by "holding her phone incorrectly".[19] However, no clarifying comments or apologies were made by Rowling. Some fans highlighted the October 2017 like as evidence of a pattern of transphobia that could not be easily dismissed.[20] Others insisted that Twitter likes should not be taken as ideological endorsements.

In September 2018, Rowling liked a tweet promoting an article by Janice Turner, a British journalist and TERF, on trans inmates in women's prisons.[21] This lead to more outcry and shock from fans. One tweeted Rowling to sardonically ask if she'd had another "middle-aged moment."[22] Rowling didn't respond, but liked a follow-up tweet by Turner, in which she accused Rowling's fans of being "thought police" patrolling her likes for "wrongthink."[21][23]

In mid-June 2019, it came to light that Rowling was following a number of known transphobes on Twitter,[24] including Magdalen Berns, a British YouTuber and TERF.[25] Berns' history of transphobia was especially concerning for many fans.[26] This caused more fans to disavow Rowling, and lead to a denouncement from The Mary Sue.[27] Pink News, an LGBT-oriented news site, reached out to Rowling for comment, but she declined.[28] Her spokesperson offered the explanation that Rowling "follows a wide range of people she finds interesting or thought-provoking" on Twitter.[28]

Support of Maya Forstater

A parody graphic by Twitter user @GetDisneyPrime in response to Rowling's tweet in support of Maya Forstater

Things came to a head on December 19, 2019, when Rowling published a very unambiguous tweet in support of Maya Forstater, an embattled British TERF. The tweet's wording mischaracterised the facts surrounding Forstater's court case by referring to it as an example of "forc[ing] women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real."[29]

Forstater had a contractual position as a tax consultant for an international development charity when she began using her personal Twitter to make transphobic tweets in September 2018.[30] She fired off 150 such tweets in a single week, or one per hour as a Twitter user calculated.[31][32] One particular tirade saw her misgender a genderfluid banker, referring to her as "a man who likes to express himself part of the week by wearing a dress," and "a part-time cross dresser."[30] In October, Forstater's co-workers complained to management that her tweets were making them uncomfortable, leading to an investigation.[30] Management asked Forstater to stop, but she refused.[32] In December, when her contract expired, it was not renewed.[30][32] Forstater sued the charity for wrongful dismissal in March 2019,[30] intending it as a test case to confer legal protection on her "gender-critical" beliefs.[33] A judge decisively ruled against her that December, finding that her "absolutist" view of sex meant she insisted on misgendering people even if it "violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment," and that this conduct was not "not worthy of respect in a democratic society."[30][34]

Rowling's tweet supporting Forstater was the first time she directly expressed transphobic views rather than indirectly through likes or follows. This time the fannish outcry was much more widespread and intense.[29] Many fans took to social media to express their heartbreak, anger, and shock.[29] The controversy rippled out of fandom, drawing widespread media coverage. Human Rights Campaign[35] and Amnesty UK[36] tweeted subtle call-outs. The New York Times,[37] Washington Post,[38] and Los Angeles Times all published pieces by heartbroken and upset trans fans.[39] GLAAD reached out to Rowling, offering to arrange an off-the-record conversation with people within the trans community, but she declined through her representatives.[40]

Descent Into Full-Blown TERF

In mid-May 2020, Rowling liked a tweet mocking a trans woman by Fred Sargeant, a veteran American gay-rights campaigner turned anti-trans activist.[41][42][43] She also liked another from British journalist and TERF Helen Joyce stating that "humans come in two, and only two, immutable sexes".[41][43] At the same time, fans noted that Rowling had recently followed a slew of anti-trans accounts on Twitter.[44]

On May 29, Rowling threatened legal action against Nicola Spurling, a Canadian politician and trans-rights activist.[45] A few days earlier, in response to an article about Rowling's new children's story The Ickabog, Spurling had tweeted that Rowling "can no longer be trusted around children" (on account of her transphobia).[45] Rowling insisted that this was intended as an accusation of child abuse, prompting Spurling to delete her tweet with the comment that "right or wrong, wealth is powerful."[45] Just two hours after this exchange, Rowling accidentally included text copied from an article on The Feminist Current, a Canadian TERF news site, in a tweet directed at a 9-year-old girl who'd drawn Ickabog fanart.[46][47][48] Rowling quickly deleted the tweet, apologizing for the "un-Ickaboggish" expletive it had contained, and explaining that the copied text had been sent to her in a message.[49] However, she notably did not apologize for the transphobic nature of the text itself. In response to the ensuing backlash, Rowling tweeted that "accusations of thought crime leave me cold," and told fans to take their "censorship and authoritarianism elsewhere."[50]

A little over a week later in early June, Rowling fired off a series another series of problematic tweets, this time objecting to the trans-inclusive phrasing "people who menstruate."[51] The timing of her tirade was considered especially insensitive, given that it came in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, a surge of anti-racism protests, and Pride Month. It sparked an outpouring of anger and disbelief from fans. Many cis fans stood in solidarity with trans, nonbinary and intersex fans. Several trans folk (including Jammidodger) took the time to explain the problem with her tweets for those less aware of the implications.[52][53]

On June 10, Rowling published an essay on her personal website detailing her views "sex and gender issues," pinning a link to it to the top of her Twitter timeline with a tweet that simply read "TERF wars".[note 1][54] Any remaining doubt over Rowling's views was effectively dispelled. The essay relies heavily on transphobic fearmongering about children possibly wrongly undergoing transition. It also cites Lisa Littman's controversial 2018 study proposing a condition called "Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria," which was eventually revised and republished with a correction following heavy scientific criticism of its methodology.[55] A Formal Comment about the study was also added by the journal that stressed it was only one study and could not be taken as the basis for a new diagnosis.[56] Rowling positioned herself as an expert on the subject based on the fact that she had "followed the debate around the concept of gender identity closely" and "read sundry books, blogs and articles." She also positioned herself as the victim, citing "threats" and "social media abuse" levelled at her by "trans activists" as a result of her views, and making multiple references to her "cancellation" by critics. Rowling's essay has been extensively critiqued and debunked, both on Twitter[57] and in subsequent published articles.[58][59] Republican senator James Lankford quoted Rowling's essay during a filibuster that successfully blocked a vote on the Equality Act on June 18.[60][61] The BBC nominated Rowling's essay for its Russell Award in December 2020.[62]

Doubling And Tripling Down

On June 29 2020, Rowling liked a tweet from a Canadian TERF group opposing Bill C8, which would ban conversion therapy in Canada.[63] On July 4, Rowling screenshot-quoted an untagged tweet from a trans woman with 48 followers (albeit with the tweeter's username cut out), who had jokingly suggested that Rowling donate her ovaries to her.[64][65] That same day, Rowling liked a tweet that labelled hormone-replacement therapy the "new antidepressants," which the tweeter saw as "pure laziness for those who would rather medicate than put in the time and effort to heal people's mind."[66][67] This lead @TrinerScot to tweet the question: "Who had money on JK Rowling pivoting to supporting those who call people who take mental health medication 'lazy'?"[66][67] Rowling hit back on July 5 with an 11-part Twitter thread that quoted @TrinerScot (including his username).[67] In this thread, Rowling alleged that young people struggling with mental health issues are being "being shunted towards hormones and surgery," decrying gender-affirming care as "a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people."[67]

On July 7, Harper's Magazine published an open letter denouncing the current "vogue for public shaming and ostracism" (a.k.a. cancel culture), which it argued threatens the "free exchange of information and ideas."[68] It was signed signed by Rowling and over 100 other public figures, including Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie, and Gloria Steinem.[68] On July 8, trans author Jennifer Finney Boylan retracted her endorsement of the Harper's letter, stating she had not known Rowling and a number of other anti-trans figures had also signed it.[69] Rowling retweeted Finney Boyle's apology noting that the author hadn't unfollowed her, suggesting that she "publicly repent of [her] association with Goody Rowling" and "volunteer to operate the ducking stool next time, as penance."[note 2][70] Two weeks later, Rowling showed how much she actually values free speech by threatening The Day, a British youth-oriented news site, with legal action over an article.[71] The Day, which is used as an educational resource by schools, had reported on the controversy surrounding Rowling's remarks, posing a number of media literacy questions for students, such as whether it's possible to enjoy works by "deeply unpleasant" creators.[71][72] The site was forced to issue an apology and agreed to make a donation to the charity of Rowling's choice.[71]

Rowling tweeted a link to an article on detransitioners published by The Times on July 12.[73] On July 25, she made a series of tweets asserting that she felt there would soon be a "medical scandal" over NHS gender clinics' treatment of young patients, and when it happens "nobody currently cheering [the trans-rights] movement on will be able to credibly claim 'we couldn't have known'."[74] Critics have noted she often tweets about trans issues on weekends, leading some to quip that she needs to find a new hobby.[75][76][77][78] In late August, Rowling returned the Ripple of Hope Award she received from Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights in 2019 for her charity work after the organization's president, Kerry Kennedy, called out her "deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements."[79][80][81]

The fifth Cormoran Strike novel, Troubled Blood, was released on September 15. It features a cis male serial killer who dresses as a woman to lure his female victims into a sense of false security.[82][83][84][85] This drew widespread condemnation from critics and fans, who saw it as an example of an old, well-worn trope frequently considered transphobic.[84] Many drew comparisons to The Silence of the Lambs.[84] It was also seen as an expression of the bathroom predator fearmongering from Rowling's "TERF Wars" essay.[82] The hashtag "#RIPJKRowling" briefly trended on Twitter as fans lamented the "death" of Rowling's career.[83][85] On September 22, Rowling tweeted a photo of herself wearing a shirt proclaiming "this witch doesn't burn", linking the online TERF store that sells the shirt along with items featuring transphobic slogans like "transwomen are men" and "fuck your pronouns."[86][87]

"I Love J. K. Rowling" emerged as a transphobic dogwhistle around this time. In late July, a billboard featuring the phrase was put up at Edinburgh railway station, but taken down after it was deemed political.[88] The billboard was designed and paid for by British TERF Kellie-Jaye Keen-Minshull (also known by her pseudonym Posie Parker).[88] A similar billboard erected in Vancouver in September was taken down after just a day.[89]

Reactions Outside Of Fandom

On June 8, 2020, in response to Rowling's tweets, Daniel Radcliffe published a response through the Trevor Project.[90] He affirmed his support of trans rights, telling fans that if they "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," but hoping that they might still find "value" in the series' themes of love and acceptance.[90] This statement - and particularly his decision to partner with the Trevor Project to publish it - earned him widespread acclaim from fans.

Radcliffe's response was part of a wave of cast members from the Harry Potter films declaring their support for trans rights, beginning with Chris Rankin, the actor who played Percy Weasley, on June 6.[91] This was followed by Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang, responding to renewed Discourse about her character with an implicit statement of support for trans people.[92] Other cast members who subsequently spoke out in response to Rowling's tweets and "TERF wars" essay included: Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood (June 9);[93] Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger (June 10);[94] Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley (June 10);[95] Eddie Redmayne, who portrays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts film franchise (June 10);[96] Scarlett Hefner, who played Pansy Parkinson (June 11);[97] Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley (June 12);[98] Dan Fogler, who plays Jacob Kowalski in the Fantastic Beasts films (June 12);[99] and Miriam Margolyes, who played Professor Sprout (July 13).[100] The screenwriter of the films, Steve Kloves, also released a trans-supportive statement.[101] Universal Parks[102] (which operates the Wizarding World theme park) and Warner Bros.[103] put out more generalized statements supporting diversity and inclusion. As of 2021, the only cast members who have defended Rowling are John Cleese (Nearly-Headless Nick),[104][105] Ralph Fiennes (Voldemort),[106]Harry Potter's Robbie Coltrane Doesn't Find J.K. Rowling's Comments About Trans People 'Offensive'", People</ref> However, fans noted that Tom Felton (Draco Malfoy) liked a tweet from her transphobic Twitter binge in June.[107]

Planned and in-development projects have been left with uncertain futures due to the fallout. Eddie Redmayne reportedly wants Rowling let go as the screenwriter of the Fantastic Beasts films.[108] Some believe this has further imperiled the spin-off series' prospects, as it was already beleaguered by scandals surrounding stars Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller, an underperforming and poorly-received second installment, and a forced halting of production on the third due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[109] Avalanche Software staff working on an open-world Harry Potter RPG were reportedly also feeling conflicted about the project following Rowling's remarks.[110][111]

The controversy has also rocked the publishing world. Several staffers at publisher Hachette UK reportedly threatened to suspend work on Rowling's upcoming book The Ickabog over her transphobic comments.[112] This prompted Hachette to release a statement declaring that they were "proud" to publish the book and that they believe "everyone has the right to express their own thoughts and beliefs."[112] Four authors resigned from The Blair Partnership, the literary agency that represents Rowling, after internal discussions failed.[113][114] The authors had tried to get the agency to issue a statement supporting trans rights and offer sensitivity training to its staff.[113][114] The agency fired back at the authors in a public statement, characterizing their requests as "demands to be re-educated to their point of view."[114] However, Canadian bookstore chain Indigo released an official statement that they "stand firmly and positively with the Transgender community" and find Rowling's comments "disappointing,"[115] and Left Hand Books, an independent bookshop in St. Louis, Missouri, removed Rowling's books from its shelves.[116] Arthur A. Levine, editor of the American editors of the books, has come out in support of trans rights,[117] as has Hebrew translator Gili Bar-Hillel.[118] Chuck Tingle released a niche erotica parody novel entitled Trans Wizard Harriet Porber and the Bady Boy Parasaurolophus.[119]

Some celebrities have been unwittingly pulled into the fray by reacting to Rowling's tweets. Mark Hamill set off a wave of alarm when fans noticed he had liked Rowling's December 2019 tweet supporting Maya Forstater. However, he later apologized and explained that while "ignorance is no excuse," he had liked the tweet for its apparent uncontroversial feminist sentiment, without "understanding what the last line or hashtags meant" or realizing it that it had "any transphobic connotation."[120] On June 29, 2020, Stephen King liked a tweet from Rowling quoting Andrea Dworkin,[note 3] which dealt with men reacting negatively to women's words but was not overtly transphobic. This led Rowling to tweet thanking King for his apparent support and gushing over her love of his work. When King affirmed that trans women are women shortly after, Rowling deleted the praising tweet and reportedly blocked King.[121][122][123] King stated in a 2021 interview that Rowling "canceled" and "kinda blocked" him for his support of trans women.[124][125]

Rick Riordan, the author of the Percy Jackson series, has also been hailed by some fans as an "anti-JK Rowling" in the aftermath of Rowling's remarks, since his books feature LGBT representation and he has been receptive to fannish criticisms and concerns.[126][127][128] However, Riordan gently rejected this as a "setting up a false dyad" that "makes [him] very uncomfortable", and suggested that readers seek out works by trans and non-binary authors instead.[129]

Fan Reactions

General Response

A commentary by skymin on Tumblr about the idea of using "Miku wrote Harry Potter" as a way of distancing the series from its creator drew many reactions.[130]

Rowling's increasingly obvious transphobia, along with other persistent issues with the Harry Potter series (racism, cultural appropriation, poor queer representation), has forced fans to reassess their feelings for the once-beloved creator. Some have proclaimed that death of the author applies and that Rowling's views do not alter the world she created. These fans want to separate Rowling's views from the meaning that the series has held for them, especially if it previously made them feel understood, uplifted, or valid as members of a marginalised group. Some fans joked that the true author of the Harry Potter series was in fact Britney Spears[131] or Hatsune Miku[132], drawing a parallel between Rowling and Markus Persson, the creator of Minecraft, who also made transphobic comments and was pushed back by a parody account of Hatsune Miku who claimed to be the true creator of Minecraft.[132] Other fans have pointed out that transphobic and other bigoted themes are entrenched in the Potterverse, and that disowning the creator won't fix the content.

As alternatives to the Potter series, some fans have promoted transformative works like A Very Potter Musical, a parody featuring canonically queer characters and created by fans openly supportive of the LGBTQ+ community.[133] Fans have also taken to producing fanworks that portray Harry Potter characters as trans or intersex, imagining them challenging bigots within the wizarding world, or instead finding love and acceptance. Many exchanges and challenges dedicated to these headcanons and AUs emerged in the wake of Rowling's comments.

Some fans have continued to support Rowling despite her transphobia, creating hashtags such as #IStandWithJKR and #IStandWithJKRowling. These hashtags were quickly flooded with fancams by K-pop stans, who have similarly mobilized to spam white supremacist hashtags, such as #WhiteLivesMatter.[134][135]

Many fans with Harry Potter-themed tattoos have been left in an uncomfortable position as a result of Rowling's remarks. Some are now seeking to have their tattoos removed or modified, and at least one artist has been designing cover-ups for fans in exchange for donations to a trans charity.[136][137][138]

Reactions From Fansites And Prominent Fans

Notable figures within Potter fandom have also denounced Rowling's transphobia and sought to affirm their support of trans and non-binary fans.[139][140][141] MuggleNet, one of the earliest and longest-running fansites, stated that the fandom is a "beautiful, inclusive, supportive environment for all - no matter what anyone tries to tell us."[142] A volunteer for the site, Renae McBrian, stated that "J.K. Rowling gave us Harry Potter," but the "the magic and community" was created by fans and "that is [theirs] to keep."[139] Melissa Anelli, creator of the The Leaky Cauldron fansite and a BNF in Potter fandom, declared Rowling's "rhetoric" on trans people "harmful, hateful, and wrong."[143] HPANA, another long-standing fansite, condemned Rowling for "rejecting science and just plain human dignity," writing that her "words and actions have amplified anti-trans voices."[144] In another tweet, HPANA hit back at transphobes accusing distraught and angry fans of biting the hand the feeds them, stating "We. Supported. JK. Rowling. For. 20. Years.," and noting that "our support [...] enabled her to attain her level of wealth, fame & power."[145] The Harry Potter Alliance, a fan-run non-profit that has advocated on a range of issues including LGBT rights, stated that "affirming and respecting people's gender is kind, loving, and literally saves lives."[146] The organization launched the Protego campaign (named after a protective spell in the series) in 2016 to lobby for trans rights.[147]

On July 1, 2020, MuggleNet and The Leaky Cauldron released a joint statement rejecting Rowling's beliefs on transgender rights as "out of step with the message of acceptance and empowerment we find in her books and celebrated by the Harry Potter community," with both sites committing to ceasing coverage of Rowling and her non-wizarding world projects going forward.[148][149]

Notable LGBT voices within the Harry Potter community have also spoken out against Rowling's transphobia. Jackson Bird, a YouTuber and life-long Potter fan who wrote Sorted, a memoir recounting how the fandom helped him come out as trans, called out Rowling for using her "incredible platform" to be "very critical and hateful" toward a marginalized group.[141] In another interview, Bird noted that Rowling's books "taught an entire generation about unconditional love, acceptance, and fighting supremacy," and humorously suggested that she re-read them to "learn something."[150] The Gayly Prophet Podcast, a queer-oriented fan podcast, encouraged fans to boycott official Potter-related products.[151]

As for fans who have taken Rowling's side, Mugglenet founder Emerson Spartz tweeted that she is "NOT transphobic" after the joint MuggleNet/Leaky Cauldron statement, prompting Rowling to personally thank him.[152] Hannah Tay, a British BookTuber, released a video defending her, arguing that she isn't transphobic.[153] This caused outcry from the BookTube community. As a result of this pushback, Rowling reached out to Tay privately on Twitter, offering what Tay described as a "beautifully supportive and encouraging message."[154] Readershark,[155] Crescent Moon Reads,[156] Kelsey Carol,[157] and sammyreadss[158] all made critical response videos. Tay posted links to these videos on her Twitter, prompting her thousands of followers, newly bolstered with Rowling-supporting TERFs, to descend upon the lesser-known BookTubers.[159][160] Tay also encouraged her followers to report the videos in an attempt to get them taken down.[161]


Death of the Author/Separating the Art From the Artist

To me, JK Rowling exists in the same category as Enid Blyton and Roald Dahl.

I will celebrate their worlds and characters, but not the authors.

(for those unaware, Enid Blyton wrote wonderful children's books but was a such a massive racist that even the people of the 1950s were a bit alarmed...Roald Dahl was a super, super antisemite. Like seriously 0_0)[162]

Every time JK Rowling says something transphobic there’s a swarm of cis people saying “Miku made this” or “Let’s go back in time and get someone nice to write Harry Potter” and I’m sick of it!

Face your uncomfortable feelings! Face up to it! Especially if you’re also marginalized in some way. Getting to ignore realities like this is cisgender privilege and if you can understand why white people or men or abled people or straight people or any other privileged group nursing their own feelings in favor of ignoring your reality is bad then why are you constantly doing it to trans people? Why do tweets and tumblr posts calling for ignorance get so much attention? Face up to this reality! You like something written by a transphobe! So do I! And I’m trans! And I have to live with this knowledge every day along with all the other bs I have to put up with! The least you can do is face reality and your own biases and listen to the people most hurt by Rowling’s sentiments.

Anyways, read books by trans ppl like Ryka Aoki and Kai Cheng Thom and face reality. Ryka Aoki in particular changed my life when I met her and taught me that surviving is rebellion. Books written by these two asian trans women have done more good for me than JK Rowling ever did.[163]

When I say I subscribe to death of the author, in regards to JK Rowling, I’m not saying I’m pretending she didn’t write the series. Rather, I’m saying what she says outside of the text has absolutely no bearing on my interpretation of the text.

She’s dead from a literary criticism point of view. If it’s not in the story, then I don’t care what she has to say about canon. In fact, I don’t care about what’s canon at all anymore. All characters are trans/nb now, and there’s nothing she can do to change my mind. To hell with authorial intent, Rowling is dead to me.[164]

But I think we are past the day where we can pretend that disavowing a bigoted author is enough, and that that somehow separates the text from its bigotry. I think we are past the day where we can pretend that Harry Potter isn’t a deeply, inherently bigoted piece of media. Even the bits we love. I think we are beyond the day where we can truthfully pretend to separate it from her, because she is present through all of it. We MUST recognise its flaws. We MUST admit that she is in every part of it.[1]

people seeing bigotry behind a beloved series & responding by peacocking their own taste as "pure" this whole time... a bad look & i hate it. there's horrors in most things you've loved & none of us walk untouched; the answer cannot be to read purely, but to read critically[165]

Reclaiming the Text

Someone who isn’t vile and disgusting should get to remake the Harry Potter movies and get rid of all the thinly veiled racism, include LGBT characters, make Hermione’s quest to end literal slavery a legitimate goal, rename Cho Chang, and just make everyone feel like they could have a place at hogwarts. And Joanne Rowling should have absolutely no say in any of it. I don’t want her voice anywhere near Harry Potter. Harry Potter has meant everything to me my whole life and she has done nothing but taint it and ruin it and destroy it. Harry Potter belongs to fans. We don’t need her.[166]

Separate the art from the artist is getting harder and harder when the artists are being ignorant, stubborn, disgusting people who don’t change when given the chance

How do i separate art from the artist when every time I think about my childhood and a life defining series I think about her hate?

Harry Potter changed my life. It did, that’s never going to change. I want more diversity and representation and I didnt get it - and I was content with Harry being blinkered and unobservant so I could fill in the blanks myself (and there were enough blanks).

Now I read the books and it’s the authors hate I see on the pages and I try to separate art from the artist because she may have always been ignorant and hateful but this is a series that shaped me growing up - shaped me in a way a book can by the context only on the page and nothing else. I fail at separating art from the artist because there was nothing to suggest dumbledore was gay without JKRs tweets or that Michael Goldstein was Jewish without JKRs “revelation”. She took my blanks and she filled them in herself without any preemption or research or intention.

So I put up a big mental fuck you - and fill in the representation the way it matters to me and purposefully against what JKRs beliefs are.[167]

For many of the current teenage generation, J. K. Rowling used to be a childhood hero. But her thoughts and her ideals no longer fits what the modern world thinks and wants and needs.

We are a generation of change. It is with us that the world has realized it’s mistakes and it is us that take action. Just look at the BLM protests. Just look at the environment protests. Just look at pride. We are a generation of change!

When I was young, I hoped to be like J. K. Rowling. Her life seemed like a dream. Now I hope I’ll never be compared to her about anything. Ever. J. K. Rowling might have created the Harry Potter univers. But she doesn’t own it. We do.

So now, during pride month, and during every single other month in the year, I urge everyone to continue to build the Harry Potter univers into what we want it to be. Reblog trans HP art. Read trans HP fanfics. And gay ones, lesbian ones, non binary ones, asexuall ones, any type of sexuality or gender identity ones. We will not let this woman bring down an entire generation.[168]

if harry potter means a lot to anyone else out there, too, and you're hurt by jk's transphobia today: your idea of hogwarts is your own. the castle and its magic are things that she can't take away from you or lock you out of. they're yours. you do belong in that world and hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.[169]

"Thoughts on Cho Chang"

In early June 2020, in the wake of Rowling's doubling down on TERF ideology, Cho Chang began trending on Twitter as fans weighed in another aspect of the series that had long irritated them - the fact that the only named East Asian character was called "Cho Chang", "Cho" and "Chang" both being surnames. Although due to the nature of Chinese romanization and linguistic diversity of the nation, "Cho Chang" could also be a perfectly acceptable and real Chinese name.[170]


Cho Chang is trending. Over 20 years after she was introduced in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, people are expressing irritation that JK Rowling lazily named her only East Asian character Cho Fucking Chang. Yes, we've been holding on to this one for a long time.[171]

stop making up elaborate theories/excuses about how names like "Cho Chang" could be legit because her family immigrated long before standard romanization systems like Wade–Giles or Pinyin or some shit THERE STRAIGHT UP WASN'T MORE THAN 5 SECONDS OF THOUGHT PUT INTO IT, OKAY
Even as a child when I read "Cho Chang" I was like, really?
If I, an idiot youth could recognise it as lazy and off-putting, I have no idea how she ever thought it was a good idea, or how the legion of adults that surrounded her agreed and signed off on it.[172]

Actress Katie Leung, who portrayed Cho in the Harry Potter films, responded to this with a tweet reading, "So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes...(thread)"[173] The subsequent thread contained a number of links to fundraisers and petitions supporting Black trans people, particularly Black trans women. She concluded with the hashtag #AsiansForBlackLives. While some found this confusing, many interpreted it as an implicit statement of support for trans people and a subtle critique of Rowling's transphobia.[92]


Trans!Harry art by myrkky
A three-inch sticker declaring "My Patronus fights TERFs", sold by HokumAndSnark


  • Trans Fics Against TERFs: A Twitter account created in December 2019 to tweet links to fanfic featuring trans Harry Potter characters at JK Rowling
  • My Very Brightest Star by Lumeleo. When young Cassiopeia wants to tell her father something, Draco does his best to be a better father than his own was. If that means he's going to have a son instead of a daughter, well, he'll have the most amazing son anyone could hope for. (December 2019)
  • of all the things that help by luckybarton. Harry comes out as a trans man at Hogwarts to little fanfare or dramatics, because Wizarding society is like that. The Dursleys are another story. (December 2019)
  • My Hogwarts Will Be Intersectional Or It Will Be Bullshit by swingandswirl. Four (of many, many) trans Hogwarts students the castle welcomed home. Because fuck you, JKR. (December 2019)
  • just harry by displayheartcode. Finding yourself isn’t a race. (June 2020)
  • A Skirt's Not So Bad by tekomandor. Harry Potter ends up taking the place of Pansy Parkinson via polyjuice rather than Gregory Goyle. She discovers being a girl is pretty great, in her view. (June 2021)




Exchanges, Challenges and Events

Links and Further Commentary




  1. ^ Given that Rowling's essay contains transphobic and ableist statements, it is prudent to include a trigger warning. The essay can be found here: J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues.
  2. ^ References to witch trials are a common rhetorical device used by TERFs to imply that they are also women being unjustly slandered and persecuted by a misogynistic society.
  3. ^ Dworkin opposed the type of sex binary/essentialism that Rowling advocates, but her views on trans people apparently evolved over the course of the 1970s, shifting from radically (for the time) supportive of trans rights and to tacitly trans-antagonistic. In Woman Hating (1974), Dworkin wrote that transexuality (the book predates the term "transgender") "is a 'disease' with a cure: a sex-change operation will change the person’s visible sex and make it consonant with the person's felt identity," adding that "every transsexual has the right to survival on his/her own terms" and thus should be "entitled to a sex-change operation [...] provided by the community as one of its functions." However, she felt that this was an "emergency measure for an emergency condition," arguing that deconstructing binary sex roles and creating a "community built on androgynous identity" would "mean the end of transsexuality as we know it," as it it would allow everyone to adopt a "fluid androg­yny." After Dworkin's views were sharply criticized by Janice Raymond, she helped edit Raymond's 1979 book The Transsexual Empire, often considered the founding text of trans-exclusionary radical feminism.


  1. ^ a b Tumblr ask from accio. Posted 3 May 2020.
  2. ^ Juliet Jacques, "Transphobia Is Everywhere in Britain", The New York Times
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  4. ^ a b c Edie Miller, "Why is British media so transphobic?", The Outline
  5. ^ a b c Sophie Lewis, "How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans", The New York Times
  6. ^ Katelyn Burns, "J.K. Rowling’s transphobia is a product of British culture", Vox
  7. ^ Grace Robertson, "Where J.K. Rowling’s Transphobia Comes From", Vanity Fair
  8. ^ a b c Rob Zacny, "JK Rowling's Transphobia Wasn't Hard to Find, She Wrote a Book About It", Vice
  9. ^ J.K. Rowling Denies Pen Name Is Inspired by Anti-LGBTQ+ Conversion Therapist, Vice Website
  10. ^ Hey JK Rowling, am I to understand you simply didn't read the article you liked, or should we assume you agree with it? by @TransSalamander via Twitter. Published October 24, 2017 (Accessed June 12, 2020).
  11. ^ "I’ve spent much of the last three years reading books, blogs and scientific papers by trans people, medics and gender specialists ..." by @jk_rowling via Twitter. Published June 6, 2020. (Accessed June 12, 2020).
  12. ^ Rowling is a terf, Twitter, 2018
  13. ^ So @jk_rowling are you going to address why you’re going around liking transphobic tweets or by stefsanjati via Twitter, published March 21, 2018 (Accessed June 7, 2020).
  14. ^ Tweet by @shonfaye (since deleted, but archived on the Wayback Machine): Trans culture is seeing the beloved author of your generation like a transphobic tweet from a troll account which has repeatedly called you a man. Published March 21, 2018 (Accessed June 7, 2020).
  15. ^ Tweet @BootstrapCook (since deleted, but archived on the Wayback Machine): Wait so @jk_rowling wrote books where the characters could literally transform into cats and dead people but trans folk are beyond all comprehension? Published March 21, 2018 (Accessed June 7, 2020).
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  20. ^ btw for those who don't know, this is not the first time she's done this by @TransSalamander via Twitter. Published March 21, 2018 (Accessed June 7, 2020).
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  23. ^ In case anyone was doubting that @jk_rowling is a TERF here is her liking someone using transphobia to defend her previous transphobic like." by @Taylorsaurion on Twitter. Published September 13, 2018. (Accessed June 12, 2020).
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  25. ^ Cool. So, for #Pride2019, @jk_rowling is following a proud youtube transphobe. by @transadvocate via Twitter, published June 23, 2019 (Accessed June 7, 2020).
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  170. ^ [1] Is "Cho Chang" a plausible name for a girl of Chinese descent?
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  172. ^ Tweet by @TheLuxNoctis, posted Jun 7, 2020 (Accessed Jun 22, 2020).
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