From defending Johnny Depp, refusing to mention Dumbledore’s homosexuality in The Crimes of Grindlewald, to randomly tweeting that wizards poop themselves and can magically get rid of it (seriously, no one asked for that), J.K. Rowling has given her fans many WTF moments.
But when Potterheads discovered that their childhood idol followed multiple anti-trans activists on Twitter, they were left with a bitter polyjuice potion taste in their mouths.
On June 23rd, Twitter user @Persenche decided to go through the 666 people that Rowling follows. She found that Rowling followed 11 anti-trans activists and TERFs ( trans-exclusionary radical feminists) including Julie Bindel, who has been an anti-trans activist for years.
But it was her recent most follow that got fans heated.
Magdalen Berns is a prominent anti-trans Youtuber with videos like, “There’s no such thing as a lesbian with a penis”, “Misgendering is violence? Nah, mate!”, and “What kind of fools do transgender UK and Stonewall take us for?”
But Berns spews the majority of her hateful rhetoric on her Twitter, where she ignorantly compared trans-women to blackface actors.
When asked why Rowling would follow people like this, a representative for the author told PinkNews,
“J.K. Rowling won’t be commenting. However, we know she follows on Twitter a wide range of people she finds interesting or thought-provoking.”
This behavior seems kind of odd for Rowling, considering she’s been a defender of LGBTQ people in the past. In 2014, she said that even though she didn’t make it a point to write LGBTQ students in the books, there were LGBTQ students at Hogwarts. She even retweeted an image that read,
“If Harry Potter has taught us anything, it’s that no one should live in a closet.”
But, as many of you know, there are people who support LGBTQ people but exclude the trans community from their allyship.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the first time the Harry Potter author’s feelings on the trans community have been questioned.
In March of last year, she liked a tweet by Racybearhold (whose account was recently suspended) that referred to trans women as “men in dresses”. Rowling’s publicist eventually said that she liked Racy’s tweet by mistake.
“I’m afraid J.K. Rowling had a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favorited by holding her phone incorrectly.”
Fans had a hard time believing this, especially since she’d been caught liking transphobic tweets even before the March incident. Were those mistakes as well?
Prior to that incident, Rowling liked a tweet that promoted a transphobic article written by Medium writer Harvey Jeni as well as an article written by notorious anti-trans journalist Janice Turner called “Trans Rapists Are A Danger In Women’s Jails.”
For many Harry Potter fans — myself included — these latest findings have us feeling conflicted. Many of us grew up loving Harry Potter. The themes of being yourself, loving your friends, and standing up for what’s right have shaped who we are as people, especially for those of us who fight for social justice. Can we still love the world she created if it turns out she has transphobic ideologies?
Given her fame and influence, it’s incredibly dangerous for people to see hate speech promoted. I’m not saying that Rowling is definitively anti-trans, but she’s not giving us a lot to work with when it comes to giving her the benefit of the doubt.
Plus, given her fame and influence, it’s incredibly dangerous for people to see hate speech promoted and think it’s okay. We deserve to know what’s going on. We’re living in a world where trans women are being killed at an alarming rate and we need to know where she stands once and for all.
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Alysia Stevenson is a twenty-seven New York City transplant currently living in Florida with her boyfriend and three furbabies. When she’s not writing, you can find her watching beauty tutorials on Youtube or Parks and Rec for the millionth time.