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The Harry Potter Series Was Written by Daniel Radcliff and No One Can Convince Me Otherwise

The Wizarding World of J.K. Rowling’s book series Harry Potter always had a sense of whimsical escapism. Every kid who read of Harry, Ron and Hermione’s epic adventures and the power of their long-lasting friendship yearned to attend the great halls of Hogwarts and create their own magical tale. I distinctly remember the disappointment of realizing that my invitation to Hogwarts wouldn’t be coming in the mail on my 11th birthday, and although I had to eventually accept my “muggle” status, I continued to love Harry Potter into adulthood. Unfortunately, this adoration for my favorite childhood book series has since aged very poorly. This is due to a slew of discriminatory posts Rowling has made against the transgender community, especially transgender women.     

In December of 2019, Rowling came under fire for a tweet in support of Maya Forstater, an anti-transgender feminist who lost her job in a court case that ruled her refusal to recognize certified transgender women as women as unlawful. In turn, Rowling was heavily criticized by LGBTQ+ activists and organizations, and the discriminatory language she uses towards the transgender community under the guise of progressive feminism has apropriately distingushed her as a “TERF.” TERF is an acronym that stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists: a group of women who disregard the validity of gender identity. In response to the public outcry from supporters of Rowling’s work, she posted a nearly 4,000-word blog post defending her support of TERF rhetoric and addressing her concerns with trans-activism. Under the false pretense of “defending women’s safe spaces,” Rowling presents incredibly harmful claims towards an already vulnerable minority group. 

Earlier this year, one of my closest friends on campus came out as transgender and non-binary. We’ve had many insightful conversations regarding the fluidity of gender and sexuality, so when I decided to write this article, I asked them if they would share their views on the situation. I recognize that my perspective as a cisgender woman is different than that of people in the transgender community. I felt as though my friend, someone who had also grown up on the Harry Potter series, had a valid opinion that should be heard. We spent almost an hour deconstructing Rowling’s claims, and I’ve attempted to document some of the highlights of our conversation. 

“The problem with the TERF ideology is that it’s the same misogynistic conceptions of gender that society has perpetuated for centuries but with a ‘progressive’ coat of paint.” 

The word “biological sex” is thrown around quite frequently in anti-transgender propaganda. It’s used as a weapon to discredit the identities of non-cisgender individuals and ignores the scientific research behind gender identity. One of Rowling’s first concerns is that new transgender activism is “pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.” This is false. The transgender community doesn’t discredit the legitimacy of biological sex. There are certainly situations where knowing someone’s anatomical makeup is important for their health and wellbeing. Still, transgender individuals, such as my friend, recognize that gender and sex are two separate concepts.“Gender is not biological; it’s societal. The only consensus that can be reached in terms of gender is personal display. Every other definition has logical holes. If you use anatomy, what about intersex people? If you use ‘tradition’ to justify the heteronormative binary, what about Māhūs of Native Hawaii or the Galli of Ancient Greece and Rome? Historically, these figures separated their gender from their sex.”  

J.K. Rowling goes on to claim that “between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria,” and she fears that teens — especially transgender men — are pushing themselves into gender dysphoria because of issues with “anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred.” She fails to mention that most gender dysphoria researchers have discredited this information. “The methodology of those studies is very flawed, because they didn’t study gender identity,” said Diane Ehrensaft, director of mental health at UCSF’s Child and Adolescent Gender Clinic. “Those desistors [individuals who wish to detransition] were, a good majority of them, simply proto-gay boys whose parents were upset because they were boys wearing dresses. They were brought to the clinics because they weren’t fitting gender norms.” My friend, who identifies as trans masculine, explains Rowling’s fears of unfounded transitioning as such, “People don’t just do this on a whim. You spend years of your life defending your trans identity to doctors. You don’t just get on hormones or spend thousands of dollars on top or bottom surgery for the Hell of it.”

Rowling’s final concern, and arguably her most egregious, is that allowing transgender women the same rights as cisgender women will “throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman.” This statement is made immediately after she opens up about her personal experiences with sexual assault.  I do not admire when women use their traumatic experiences to instill fear towards another minority group. Rowling’s testament is used to insinuate a connection between sexual assault and “perverted” transgender women. The idea of men “posing as women” and stalking young girls in the women’s restroom is not a new fear tactic, but there is no consistent evidence behind the claim. The National Police Foundation conducted a study in July of 2017, which findings concluded that there wasn’t “evidence of sexual assaults taking place in which men, under the guise of being women or transgender, entered women’s bathrooms to commit a sexual assault or otherwise victimize women.” The statement went on to confirm that “in 8 of 10 cases, the assault is not perpetrated by a stranger but rather by a person known to the victim, such as an acquaintance or intimate partner.” This matches up with the validity of Rowling’s narrative about her own struggles with domestic abuse, but not with the claims that trans inclusionary policies will incite violence against women.

“Trans women aren’t looking to do insidious things; they just want to use the bathroom.”     

For the casual cisgendered straight reader, Rowling’s claims might not seem so significant. What’s the harm in a woman sharing her political ideology on a public forum? Why is there such a major backlash for such a small minority? The issue is that “small minority” has some of the highest rates in suicide, unemployment, domestic violence, and homelessness. Rowling even acknowledges this in her response by stating, “Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk.” To me, this shows that she’s aware that the transgender community is at risk and continues to attack them anyway. She knows, more than anyone, that words have power. Albus Dumbledore once said, “It takes a great deal of bravery to stand up to our enemies, but just as much to stand up to our friends.” It’s painful to watch the authors you grow up reading disappoint you, yet there is no excuse for the hateful rhetoric Rowling has shown to thousands of her transgender supporters. Hogwarts was home for them too, and by invalidating their right to an identity, Rowling has made yet another safe space unwelcoming for the transgender community.

Hey guys!! I'm Lorin O'Rear and I am a freshman at the University of Alabama. My major is Secondary Language Arts Education with minors in the Blount Scholars Program and Theatre. Outside of writing, I love listening to music, keeping up with politics, spending time with my two dogs Max and Goose, and spending way too much time decorating my island in Animal Crossing.
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