J.K. Rowling speaks onstage at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019 in New York City.

J.K. Rowling’s Latest Anti-Trans Comments Spectacularly Misconstrue Her Own Creation

The United Kingdom is a hotbed of transphobia right now, something that has tangible and horrific consequences, but J.K. Rowling still can’t help but reiterate over and over that she’s the real victim here.

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Her current platform is the podcast The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, where she basically gets to talk about how hard done by she is and very little else, and in the most recent episode, she brought the Harry Potter franchise into it. Many, many people were huge Harry Potter fans in the past—I was, too—but thanks to Rowling herself, it’s now very hard to argue that the label “Harry Potter fan” is a neutral one. No matter how much you believe in the concept of Death of the Author (please tell me J.K. Rowling knows what that is and that it isn’t a threat against her?), the fact remains that she still profits from the franchise and uses that money to fund trans-exclusive projects, among other things.

J.K. Rowling is truly clueless about her own works

And now, she’s weighing up how many Potter fans she still has on her side. She said on the podcast, “When I first became interested and then deeply troubled by what I saw as a cultural movement that was illiberal in its methods and was very questionable in its ideas, I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many folks would be deeply unhappy with me.” However, she doesn’t seem to have questioned why, beyond the surface level.

She went on to say she knew that those speaking against her “believed they were fighting for underdogs and difference and fairness,” but then, in a move that’s simultaneously shocking and not surprising at all, she compared trans people to Death Eaters, the fascist and murderous group of “purebloods” Harry Potter and his friends go up against in her books. When Rowling was asked what she would say to people who claimed she had become just like the villains she wrote about, she answered:

I would say that some of you have not understood the books. The Death Eaters claimed, ‘We have been made to live in secret, and now is our time, and any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die.’ They demonized and dehumanized those who were not like them.

I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement, that has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society.

I guess I missed the bit in Harry Potter where the Death Eaters were subject to laws restricting their freedoms, were more at risk for sexual violence, and had politicians calling for their genocide. How silly of me!

Rowling on “cancel culture”

Talking about her decision to join the anti-transgender movement, Rowling also said, “I thought it would be easier not to … this could be really bad. And honestly, it has been bad, personally. It has not been fun.” You don’t say. Rowling continued this no-self-awareness tour by saying, “I’m a great believer in looking at not what people say, but what they do. How are you behaving? If you are threatening, if you are threatening to remove livelihoods, if you are saying ‘this person is canceled,’ that is the language of a dictator.”

Sure, but Rowling happily allies herself with people who are very much threatening trans people and will happily indulge in “canceling” people who disagree with her, so there seems to be, uh, a little bit of projection going on here—something a bit Death Eater-y, one could say!

I have no interest in ever revisiting the Harry Potter books, but I’m pretty sure I remember why the Death Eaters were living in secret. It wasn’t because they were part of an oppressed group. It was because they chose to hate and hurt people who they saw as “lesser” and were rightfully punished for it. I definitely remember the Death Eaters’ philosophy wasn’t “you disagree with us, you must die.” It was more along the lines of, “You were born a certain way and because of that we want to terrorize you, cast you out of society and ultimately kill you.”

That sounds a lot more like one side of this “debate” than the other.

(featured image: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)


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Sarah Barrett
Sarah Barrett (she/her) is a freelance writer with The Mary Sue who has been working in journalism since 2014. She loves to write about movies, even the bad ones. (Especially the bad ones.) The Raimi Spider-Man trilogy and the Star Wars prequels changed her life in many interesting ways. She lives in one of the very, very few good parts of England.