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Outgrowing your childhood heroes: J.K. Rowling won't stop being problematic

Once known as the beloved author of the famous "Harry Potter" series, author J.K. Rowling is now the subject of public scrutiny after upsetting fans with transphobic tweets.  – Photo by JKRowlingWeb / Instagram

Lumos Maxima — Harry Potter fans, you better have a reading light on because this article is going to be heartbreaking.

J.K. Rowling, author of the beloved "Harry Potter" series, created a home for many with her stories, especially for those in the LGBTQ+ community. For years, fans of the series celebrated the fact that Rowling created characters with colorful personalities and defied stereotypes.

But unfortunately, Rowling's legacy may end here. On June 6, Rowling took to Twitter to share her issue with an article that used the phrase “people who menstruate” instead of the phrase “women," indicating her heteronormative views on identity and sex while also disregarding the transgender community.

Her tweet insinuated that only those who were born biologically female, with vaginas, and who could menstruate, should be considered women, effectively dismissing transgender women, some of whom were major fans of the series that she created.

Understandably, her tweet was poorly received by many. After all, who is Rowling, a cisgender, heterosexual woman author, to declare that periods can only be associated with womanhood? (I don’t see a doctor's certificate on her records.)

Rowling added to her initial statement and said, “I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” 

Many fans were disappointed and disturbed by her response, as the series she created had given them imagination and a place to fall back to when they were scared or anxious. The "Harry Potter" fandom has some of the biggest LGBTQ+ community following than any other fandom.

Fans even ship some couples that aren’t originally written as gay or queer in the novels or movies. One fan on Twitter said, “I remember a time that didn’t belong to labels, but belonged to imagination. To magic. In a world where, simply, good was for anyone that believed in good. And, now I hesitate, with a heavy heart, because my (heroes), my allies seem lost to me.”  

If that didn’t break any hearts, Rowling reiterated her point by publishing a lengthy post shortly after where she named the wave of criticisms against her as the "TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) wars."

Rowling stated that this was a term coined by transgender feminist activists, where she continued to falsely claim that these “radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary — they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.”

It's worth noting that Rowling isn’t claiming to be a TERF or to speak for them, but is still defending TERF ideology. She seems to believe that TERF feminism is "inclusive" of transgender men by recognizing them as women — but in actuality, this is just another harmful means of misgendering transgender people.

I’m not too sure what her goal was with this, other than to gain publicity. Of course, her repeated insensitivity to the issue this didn't go down well in the fandom and even more people turned against her.

In the end, she offended so many of the fans that had supported her and believed in her stories and magic. Hell, I used to believe in them too. 

Rowling has since stated that these preconceived notions based on the fact that she was a victim of domestic violence. As someone who knows the pain of being a victim of sexual assault — this is not something that is easy, in fact, it does a number on someone’s mental health — to use that as an excuse to not support the transgender community is beyond insensitive.

So, to reiterate: Rowling has actually gone off her rocker.

But, believe it or not, her problematic nature doesn't end there: She released a book this year called "Troubled Blood," in which a male antagonist crossdresses as a woman in order to lure in their victims. Given Rowling's track record, this raised many eyebrows.

The book faced widespread criticism and the plot line is “disappointing but not surprising,” said Mason Deaver, author of "I Wish You All the Best," which follows the journey of a character coming out as non-binary and how their life completely changes. 

Thankfully, the main stars of the series, Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, among others, decided to also call the author out. 

Radcliffe reaffirmed that “Transgender women are women.” At least we have some hope in the Harry Potter cast.

While I enjoyed following “#RIPJ.K.Rowling" and watching her get called out, it's also still important to note that this was a painful letdown for the many who had grown up with the series. Millions of fans had to come to terms with the fact that this beautifully written series was authored by an incredibly problematic woman.

Marieke Nijkamp, a non-binary, The New York Times best-selling author, said, "I can’t imagine going back and explaining to my teenage self, Hey, this author you love so much blatantly hates people like you.'"

Up until her atrocious remarks, I thought that Rowling was an inspirational goddess — now I just feel ashamed and disappointed.

I've made so many friends that I have bonded with over the years through adventures of the three wizarding best friends, as it was our generation's go-to series as kids. It was the very first book that I read after all those basic picture books you get as kids. I felt like a real adult when I first picked up the series.

Nonetheless, Rowling's mistakes just further attests to how we should respect all people, and work to understand our prejudices against others, regardless of our status or personal experiences.


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