I had a bad anxiety night recently which brought about my thought process below. This was mainly because a couple of weeks agao started writing a series of essays in which I would record my thoughts after each reread/rewatch of each Harry Potter instalment then post them here. After everything that has happened recently with JKR I wasn’t sure whether to continue with this ‘Back to Hogwarts’ series. I’m still not sure whether I will, but I know I want to continue writing it, so time will tell if I do.
Thank you for reading!
There is a lot being said about the comments J. K. Rowling (JKR) has made recently about transgender and non-binary people. I have a lot of thoughts on this as a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and a life long Harry Potter fan.
First I would like to say I in no way believe or support JKR’s thoughts on these topics.
Trans women are women
Trans men are men
Non-binary people are valid
There is no question of that.
I have been trying to work out how to process all of this as I have been a Harry Potter fan for most of my life. When I say ‘most’ I mean it too. That is almost 25 years minus the two years it hadn’t even been published, minus the years before Mum started reading me the first book. So make that 18 years give or take of devotion to the wizarding world of Harry Potter. Out of out of almost 25 years, that’s quite a few.
Not only are the Harry Potter books a large part of the reason why I am such an avid reader, but they are also a large part of the reason why I started writing too. So aside from the actual story itself, HP has already formed a large part of who I am and what I do. This was even before I realised I was queer, and I had embraced that part of my identity as well. I’m not saying that books, writing, and my queerness are all I am, but they do make up a large part of my identity. So when these parts of my identity converge in a negative way, I can’t help but feel torn. I am hurt, and I am angry, and all because the person who created something I love has spoken out in such a way which is extremely harmful to others. It is because of this that I am finding it difficult to work out how to respond so that I stay loyal to my community, as well as the books (not the person) that contributed so strongly to my identity.
Beyond this question of books, writing, and identity, there is a question of how much the text itself has informed me as a person. For me, the books themselves have always presented me with the ideas of love, inclusion, and accepting yourself for you are. Harry Potter also taught me about friendship, family, and loss. Those books also influenced my ideas on courage, perseverance, and doing what is right even when it isn’t the easiest option. Don’t get me wrong, my parents, family and friends taught me a lot of this too, but the positive reinforcement of those values within the Harry Potter books definitely helped. It is this I think which has helped to create a morality battle in my mind over this whole situation, and so begs this question be asked:
Is it possible for me to still talk about Harry Potter and the wizarding world so enthusiastically while I know that the woman behind that world has such harmful views?
With how much I love the Harry Potter books it may seem like I think that JKR’s writing, the world she created, and the books themselves are perfect. I don’t. Maybe I did when I was younger and I didn’t know any better, but since then I have studied, I’ve learnt, and I have grown. I don’t think anything can ever really be perfect. With how much I have loved those books, and with how beautiful some of those memories are for me that surround those book, it is hard to extract myself from them.
That is why I won’t be able to cut myself from the Harry Potter world completely, but I don’t think I’ll be able to view them in the same light I used to. I won’t be buying books or merch, unless it is from an independent creator. I will however continue to reread the books and rewatch the films, as the do make me happy, and can be a comfort in my more anxious moments. My patronus is still a Thestral, I am still in Hufflepuff, and I will continue to love and embrace the wizarding world of Harry Potter, all the while keeping in mind and acknowledging its roots.
2 thoughts on “Back to Hogwarts?”
I’ve been wondering about the impact of all this on you, Anna. I don’t think she has condemned trans people, or said that they are terrible, or that she would not accept them into her family. I think she struggles with the language and concepts of gender vs. sex, and with the idea that it is possible for someone to assert a change of gender for some kind of advantage. That seems most unlikely to me, as it is such a hard road to go down that no one would embark on it lightly. On the other hand, bad people will use any means to deceive others. Is that what she’s saying? Or that the struggles and triumphs of being a cisgender woman, and growing up as such, are different to the struggles and triumphs of being transgender. Maybe we need different categories? Personally I’d love less labels- but many people argue that “women only” spaces need to be tightly controlled for safety ( both physical and psychological) and part of that safety is in controlling the definition of what it is to be a woman. So I am not at all sure where the answer lies. I do know that what JKR has done is direct huge amounts of time and energy and money into the safety and care of children, and that there is more that unites us than divides us. Lots of love
❤ hard agree!