I know a lot of people have probably been waiting for this post from me. After all, I make no secret of my love for Harry Potter. The reason it has taken me so long to write this post is that I’ve been trying to put my feelings into words and failing miserably at it. But now here I am, just writing and hoping my words make sense. I guess it’s best to start from the beginning, so that’s what I’ll do.
I was first introduced to Harry Potter in 2001 when my older sister took me to see Sorcerer’s Stone in the movie theater. I knew nothing about Harry or his magical journey, but after seeing that movie, I knew it was world I wanted to be a part of. My parents being their always supportive selves, promptly went out and bought me the books the next day and I couldn’t put them down. Even at the age of 10, I knew this was one series that would stick with me for the rest of my life. 18, almost 19 years later, that has held true, and much of my life has been shaped by the lessons taught in this series. I can honestly say that I wouldn’t be the person I am today without Harry and the gang.
So it was natural that I came to idolize and adore JK Rowling as well. After all, this women escaped an abusive relationship and was severely depressed, but she never gave up even at her worst moments. She used all that as inspiration and kept going, creating a magical world that generations would come to know and love. I idolized her because as someone who suffers from severe depression, I saw her as a beacon of hope that happiness could be found even in the darkest times as long as one remembers to turn on the light (Dumbledore paraphrase). And as I got older and realized my calling in life was to be a writer, I took more and more inspiration from her and the journey she had been on. Thought my journey was very different from hers, she was proof that hard work, determination, and a brilliant idea could change your life forever. And the fact that she gave back, giving up her billionaire status to help those in need showed her kind and giving nature. As someone who has faced many struggles in life, I’ve always hoped that one day I could give back to others the same way she has.
But they say you should never meet your heroes because you’ll only be disappointed and even though I haven’t met her, I am disappointed in her. Why? Because my hero, my idol, one of biggest influences and inspirations for being a writer has said some very harsh things about the trans community… and it breaks my heart. Though I am a cisgender heterosexual white female, I have friends (and even a few former friends) who I care for deeply that are trans. So to see anyone, especially my favorite author, try to invalidate their existence or invalidate their gender hurts. But I know the hurt I feel by her words is nowhere compared to what transgender Harry Potter fans must be feeling. Because trans women are women and trans men are men and saying anything otherwise is an invalidation of their identity and we have no right to invalidate anyone’s identity.
After all, it has been said many times that Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home. For people who have never had a home or a place they felt safe, had a real family, have always been outcasts, etc, it was nice to know there was a place we could escape to where we would always feel safe and be surrounded by a family we created on our own. But now for part of the Harry Potter community that statement doesn’t feel true anymore. Because the woman who created this world we love so much is trying to invalidate their gender. And it feels like all her lessons about tolerance and acceptance have been tainted, which has spoiled the series for some fans to the point where they’re covering up their tattoos, refusing to see the new Fantastic Beasts movies in theaters, and so much more. For so many fans, she has destroyed the safe haven of Harry’s world, once again making people feel like there’s nowhere in the world they will be accepted for who they are. And that is a heartbreaking thought because no one in this world should ever feel unaccepted and alone for any reason.
But then after some deep thought and seeing many posts from other Potterheads, I realized she may have created this world and given us these characters, but it is us the readers who brought them to life and gave them meaning. We are the ones who stayed up past our bedtimes to read these books. We are the ones who went to midnight releases dressed up as these characters. We are the ones who cosplay, make fan pages, go to the conventions, get Harry Potter tattoos, buy the merchandise or make our own, and so much more. So to sum it up- JK Rowling may have written Harry Potter and she may own the rights to it, but Harry Potter truly belongs to the fans because we are the ones who give him and the rest of the characters life. Hogwarts is whatever we say it is and I personally say that in my Hogwarts, everyone is welcome and will always be treated equally and given love and support.
The Harry Potter community can be toxic at times, but that is true with all fandoms. But from what I’ve seen online, the Harry Potter community is offering an outpouring of love and support to the LGBTQ+ community and I am among those who offer them love and support. Harry taught me what it means to accept others and to fight against intolerance, and I will carry that lesson with me and pass that lesson onto my children when the time comes.
Honestly, this situation has broken my heart and left me depressed for so many reasons. But I will never say that my hurt is above others because I know that isn’t true. I’ve struggled for the past week or so with my feelings on this situation because I still want to believe that a woman who is so well-educated and outspoken can learn from this and change her beliefs… But I know not everyone is capable of that. So as much as it pains me to say it, I can no longer idolize JK Rowling as I once did. This woman who has influenced and inspired me for so long has broken my heart. and the hearts of so many other Harry Potter fans… and I can’t forgive that.
But I will NEVER stop loving Harry Potter. 18, almost 19 years of my life has been dedicated to this series and this fandom and I won’t let her or anyone else take that away from me. As a wise and well-educated woman I know told me-“We only punish ourselves if we abandon the art because of the artist.” As I said above JK Rowling may have created Harry Potter, but this fandom belongs to us, the fans, and we don’t need her to enjoy it. I’ve made friends along the way who share my love of Harry Potter. It’s something my father and I have bonded over. And it’s one of the few good memories I still have of my relationship with sister. So as long as the Hogwarts we created remains open to everyone and gives love and support to those who need it, then we’ll find a way through this. We can raise our wands together as one and stand united against racism, prejudice, ignorance, and intolerance. We can be the Order of the Phoenix and stand with/for and protect those we love. As a community we have the magic to help change the world for the better. So let’s be better, let’s do better, and let’s make this world a more tolerant and safe place for everyone no matter what their gender, sexual orientation, skin color, religion, etc is.
Writing this has been emotional and scary for me. Maybe in some ways I have no right to write about this topic as I am not directly impacted by it. But as a proud member of the Harry Potter community, I want to let all my trans Potterheads know that you are valid, you are loved, and we support you. And our Hogwarts will always be there to welcome you home.