A New World of Harry Potter

A New World of Harry Potter

In the summer of 2020, J.K. Rowling published a blog post that caused Harry Potter fans to question their love for the series. Rowling’s comments were extremely transphobic. She claimed that she was “worried about the new trans activism” and had to “speak up.”  She focuses her concerns on women and children – that they may be or are being abused by transgender women (born male). Her worries are not backed up with evidence. Rather, there is no evidence transwomen change their appearance to abuse other women. These accusations are incredibly unfair and incorrect. Additionally, she claims that many “young women” (referring to transmen) desire to return to their original sex after transitioning, and thus ruin their chances of fertility. While the numbers are not clear, the best estimate is that the number of de-transitioners ranges from less than one percent up to five percent; and de-transition is more common in early stages before surgeries and fertility issues. She even says: “Some say they decided to transition after realizing they were same-sex attracted, and that transitioning was partly driven by homophobia, either in society or in their families.” Where she based this on is unclear.

While no one discredits that J.K Rowling had a difficult upbringing, subject to domestic abuse and later sexual assault, her positions about transgender rights rising from this background seem out of place This is especially true when she suggests that she understands the struggles transgender people face. She discusses that if she had been born 30 years later “[t]he allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge” for her – suggesting she might have considered choosing a transgender path. This statement undermines people who desire to transition. She does not understand that like sexuality, gender is not a choice. She hides behind a trans person that she knows to defend her argument: “In addition to a few younger people, who were all adorable, I happen to know a self-described transsexual woman who’s older than I am and wonderful.” She wrote this blog post as she was angered that people on Twitter called her a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist). Her opinion is appalling. When Harry Potter was published, it reached people from across the world, touching many lives. And many people, and kids who felt different, ostracized, or out of place, found a respite in her books full of important outcasts and unusual people. Harry Potter even became a sacred text for many (there is even a podcast called “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text” for people to study and relate the story to the real world and life experiences). After Rowling’s vocal non-acceptance of transgender people, many readers feel unsure of what to do – how to separate a book from the author.

As a fan of the series myself, this was difficult to grapple with. “One more chapter, please!” my sister and I used to beg to our mom when I was no more than five. I believe I read the series at least 3 more times through and have enjoyed the audiobooks as well. My family’s Harry Potter books are now falling apart from use – they are loved books. I am one of many fans – others even more committed. But as much as I want to purchase a brand-new set of the series, I do not want to support J.K. Rowling and her unapologetic approach that no longer includes everyone.

Luckily, for those of us who yearn for a Rowling-less Potter-World, members of the vast fan base have decided to produce their own “fan-fiction.” They create original stories based in the Harry Potter universe. One has become particularly popular recently and is called All the Young Dudes, a story which follows an important side character from the main text, Remus Lupin. The writer, only identified as “mskingbean,” explores Remus’s journey through his life as a werewolf and the great endeavors of the Marauders. They do an amazing job of pulling the reader back into the world of Harry Potter and of creating an inclusive, thrilling story than “She-who-must-not-be-named” (J.K. Rowling) could ever write. While only available as a free pdf on the internet (to avoid a copyright fight with Rowling), printed in book form, the story comes out to more than 1,500 pages. It has even been translated into 19 different languages by other fans. Amazingly, the author does a very good job of mimicking Rowling’s world and creating characters and plots that fit perfectly into in the world loved by so many – more pages would be welcome. Visit https://archiveofourown.org/works/10057010/chapters/22409387#workskin to explore the story yourself. It feels like you are reading Harry Potter again for the first time.