Can people support the LGBTQ2+ community and still be fans of the wizarding world?
Jayde Atchison // Staff Writer
One of my earliest memories is standing outside of the Chapters bookstore in Park Royal, (now Chatters Salon). I was shuffling my feet from left to right while my mother stood behind me and dozens of other avid readers stood to my sides. All of us were hoping that one of the employees would slide the gate open earlier than the mall’s opening time. Our prayers were answered and the manager told the crowd, “children can come in first!”
I left my mom to fend for herself outside of the gate and pushed my little legs as quickly as possible to the new release section. I grabbed a hardcover edition of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets as if I were running to the supplies in The Hunger Games and ran back to the gate to show off that I was successful in my mission. When the store officially opened for business, my mom brought in her purchasing power, and we were able to take home the second book that shaped my love of reading.
Memes used to rise up on the internet such as, “if you have not been assigned a sexuality, please take a number and J.K Rowling will be with you as soon as she is available.” However, on Dec.19, Rowling tweeted in support of a known trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF), Maya Forstater, and the memes switched to an anti-Rowling theme. Forstater was a researcher with the non-profit think tank, Centre for Global Development, and was not given a renewed contract following her transphobic tweets. She made allegations that “men cannot change into women“, a statement that is toxic for the LQBTQ2+ community, especially trans identifying people.
Following Forstater’s firing, J.K. Rowling came through with a disappointing tweet that reads, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.” This is an obnoxious stance against the trans community, from someone that created a series that preached it is okay to be yourself. The question that is on people’s mind now–is J.K. Rowling cancelled?
From 1998 until 2011, I eagerly devoured each book immediately upon release date and lined up to see the movies on opening night. For so long J.K. Rowling was the one person, living or dead, to have dinner with because she influenced so much of my childhood and adolescence. As it stands today in 2020, I am unsure I would even want to be in the same room as the author. I went from buying her standalone novel, The Casual Vacancy, solely out of loyalty to struggling with the idea of rereading my favourite series.
How does one separate a person from their creations? This debate exists for actors that have been exposed through the #MeToo movement, musicians that have been exposed for being repugnant excuses for human beings, and now for Rowling and the bigotry she is associated with. Am I supposed to forget about the magical tale that got me through the darkest times of my life? Throwing out my copies of Harry Potter is not going to make any changes for the trans community, nor will it impact Rowling in any way.
Each person is entitled to how they want to handle this situation, and for some it may be to disassociate from all Rowling’s creations. For others, it may mean to forgo any future support of Rowling, but keep their books and movies on the shelf to be returned to when they’re ready. Perhaps the next time I reread Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets I will become uncomfortable with the Dec.19 memory overpowering my Chapters memory, and I will have to slide the book back on the shelf.
We can only hope Rowling can learn and grow from this incident, realize the impact she has on people and apologize for her hurtful words. Until then, we should do what we can to stand up for the rights of marginalized people and fight for a world where things like this are not projected aloud from people in power.