If you’re anything like me, Harry Potter once held a very special place in your heart. I never read it as a kid like many of my friends did, but I did read it in high school while trying to figure out who I was. That series was there for me to enjoy whenever I needed it, and I will always be grateful for what it gave me. The fandom gave me a sense of belonging, the houses gave me something to use to easily connect with almost any new person that I interacted with, and the story itself took me on an adventure that I will never forget.
I remember being 17 and reading Harry Potter for the first time. I remember thinking that if I ever had a family one day, then I would read those books to my children. Unfortunately, I also clearly remember going onto Twitter to see J.K. Rowling being transphobic and hurting part of the LGBTQ+ community. Then her letter came out — the one that said trans-women do not belong in bathrooms. The one that made me sick to my stomach. I remember seeing outrage from my community across social media; that helped me to feel normal.
Later, something else happened. You know the moment when your friend texts you and asks you what you think about a current situation? “What do you think about these trans issues?” It was at that moment that I realized how harmful J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans rhetoric was. It wasn’t just some crazy aunt on Facebook posting nonsense. It was a woman with power, money, and influence. People actually listen to J.K. Rowling when she talks, and she doesn’t just talk but she advocates against the trans community.
The terrible thing about this is that many of us are losing a part of our internet home. The home we found in the words of fanfics, Harry Potter musical, and hours and hours of online tests we took trying to get into the right house. Looking back on Harry Potter, I know that it was far from perfect. I truly accept that, but the fandom gave so many other LGBTQ people a home on the internet. For so many fandom communities that is all that we have. It is the one space in which we are able to act in whatever way we want to. But with how Rowling is attacking us through her letter, her tweets, and her anti-transgender support, I feel unable to find the safety that I once found in those spaces. Instead of getting excited when I see old memes that once brought me so much joy, I now feel gross. Seeing anything about Harry Potter makes me remember that J.K. Rowling feels that we don’t belong — that the people that have supported her for all of these years do not belong.
On the bright side, there is plenty of new fantasy series that are inclusive of countless different types of people. Now we do not have to only like Harry Potter and force our identities on it through fanfiction. Instead, we can pick up a different book and see ourselves in it.