(Almost) Everything I've Said Publicly About Harry Potter and the Author Who Torched Her Legacy
Updated: Mar 13
I couldn't actually track down everything I said publicly because I did a lot of interviews on the topic for a while there, but here's a decent round-up.
If you saw me post something related to Harry Potter and are wondering how the heck I can engage with that franchise, please read this and see the links below.
In the wake of the author's most public anti-trans statements, when journalists were reaching out to me so often it nearly became a full-time job, I spent a lot more time discussing––and being asked about––the impact of the author's comments on fans and not why what she has said is harmful. For more on what she's said and its impact on trans, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and/or intersex people, see the links at the bottom from people who can explain it all way better than I can.
I personally stuck more to the fan perspective because Harry Potter was a huge part of my life, personally and professionally, for many many years. Severing all connections to anything related to the franchise was therefore a bit more complicated than simply not playing a video game I was never going to play anyways, not seeing the new movies I kept forgetting about, or "just reading another book" when I rarely re-read the books to begin with. I liked the source material, of course, and I had fun the few times I went to the theme parks, but none of that is what Harry Potter was for me.
Harry Potter for me was online fan communities, wizard rock, fan conferences, podcasts, fanfiction, inside jokes seven layers deep, social justice campaigns, quidditch tournaments, my literal salary for five years, the deepest friendships I'll ever have, the touchstone in most of the art I created for a decade, the bulk of my professional network, adventures beyond my imagining, a significant stepping stone to understanding my identity, a community who welcomed me without question when I came out, and one really delicious sandwich that brought me more joy than the books on their own ever could.
What does it mean when the thread binding so much of your life together becomes tainted with hatred specifically directed against people like you?
I still don't completely know. I still engage with a limited number of fan works, but that's about all I can stomach these days. I certainly don't spend any money on the franchise and I took all the books off my shelves because they hurt too much to see everyday. I'm grateful that the friendships I made through Harry Potter have endured beyond it––conferences now replaced with weddings as our main opportunity to meet up. Because of these lasting friendships and some enduring creative projects, the name Potter still pops up in some of my collaborations. I always participate critically, interrogating the intents and impact of the author, but even that can still leave a sour taste in my mouth at times. I worry that people won't see that critique, won't know about my own doubts, when they just see me sharing a podcast appearance on Instagram Stories. Hence, this disclaimer page.
And I specifically shared all of the above because in the articles, videos, and podcasts below you'll hear from a person who was a bit more optimistic about the future, sticking to his media training, and not yet ready to let go. I'm still not completely ready to let go, but I have done so much more than I thought I would back when I was asked over and over and over again how I felt in 2020.
I know for some of you none of this will matter. The fact that I engage with the Potter fanworks at all is enough to blacklist me. I understand that. But for any of you who are merely curious––who didn't know about my past associations, who maybe thought that I've never deeply interrogated the situation, or worse that I'm unaware or don't care... well, here's the receipts:
My New York Times Op-Ed, "'Harry Potter' Helped Me Come Out as Trans, But J.K. Rowling Disappointed Me"
"What J.K. Rowling’s Anti-Trans Views Could Mean for ‘Fantastic Beasts’ Franchise — and ‘Harry Potter’ Fans" by Adam B. Vary, Variety
"Who Did J.K. Rowling Become?" by Molly Fischer, Vulture
"Trans Harry Potter fans plead with JK Rowling to read her own books and learn a thing or two about unconditional love" by Patrick Kelleher, Pink News
"Why the Harry Potter generation rejected JK Rowling" by Leaf Arbuthnot, The Times
"Can I Still Read Harry Potter?" by Aja Romano, BBC Radio 4
"Why these Harry Potter fans are standing with the LGBTQ community against a J.K. Rowling tweet" by Graham Vyse, Washington Post
"How will J.K. Rowling's transgender controversy impact her legacy? 'We reserve the right to ignore her,' fans say" by Erin Donnelly, Yahoo Entertainment
One year follow-up from the 2020 virtual Yule Ball (start at 2:33:30)
A YouTube video I made the day the first explicitly transphobic tweet was posted *
And, I think the back cover of my book sums it up pretty well:
Great Explainers From Other Folks
"Responding to JK Rowlings Essay | Is It Anti-Trans?," a meticulously cited video essay from YouTube creators Jamie and Shaaba. They're a married couple in the UK with relevant expertise/acknowledged bias. Jamie is a trans man and doctoral researcher in transgender well-being and development. Shaaba is a cis woman with a doctorate psychology and computer science, focusing on communication and social media. They included citations for their video essay here, which I highly recommend digging into.
"Harry Potter Saved My Life. J.K. Rowling Is Now Endangering Trans People Like Me," a 2020 op-ed from the perspective of award-winning young adult author Kacen Callender.
"JK Rowling's Anti-Transgender Stance and Hogwarts Legacy" an extensive explainer on the gender critical community JKR has aligned herself with as well as some of the impacts her words have had on the trans community thusfar, written by Jessie Earl (who JKR publicly criticized, leading to a flood of attacks on Jessie from JKR's followers).
"We the Mudbloods: J. K. Rowling and the Trans-Exterminationists (Book 1)" the first of a three-part fact-check and deep explainer of J.K. Rowling's 3500 essay from June 2020, by Zinnia Jones.
"JK Rowling and the Chamber of Trans Youth Misinformation," a much shorter fact-check of JK Rowling's entirely citation-free essay and subsequent social media posts, by Jack Turban.
"The new Anita Bryant," the first of a two-part series (second part yet to come?) from Parker Molloy providing historical context for the current anti-trans sentiment and JKR's familiar role in it.
"Mermaids' research into newspaper coverage on trans issues," a study conducted by Lancaster University for the UK's leading trans rights organization laying out how anti-trans sentiment has exploded in the UK over the last decade, and how much of that has been fueled by the country's outrageously dangerous tabloid problem.
While compiling this list, I happened on an essay by Andrey Uspenskiy, published in Columbia University's Morningside Review, that not only heavily cites my work in the introduction (an intriguing surprise!), but also gives a good background to JKR's anti-trans posts prior to when the majority of people heard about them and offers one of the best analyses I've read about why those later posts caused so much more outrage.
*Fun fact: Having just returned from touring with the Potter Puppet Pals and Harry and the Potters, this video was always going to be about how beautiful the fan community is. I had to, uh, insert a bit of an addendum to that, given that morning's developments. Also! A team of Google researchers were in my house observing my process of editing and uploading YouTube videos on the day I posted this. And I was already going back and forth with The New York Times about my op-ed that afternoon. In other words, I had a completely normal fan experience that day.