As many times as J.K. Rowling has already disappointed us (her retroactive Harry Potter queerbaiting, her defense of Johnny Depp, that time she said wizards used to just poop themselves all the time, etc. etc.), she still keeps finding new ways to fail her fans. Or rather, fans of her work, because I don’t really see many people calling themselves fans of her as a person anymore. Following TERFs on Twitter goes above and beyond the level of disappointment we’ve come to expect, however.
Rowling has been seen liking transphobic tweets in the past, though at the time, her rep said it was the result of “a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favorited by holding her phone incorrectly.” Now, though, she’s gone on a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist)-following mini-spree, meaning she’s choosing to introduce transphobic views into her timeline.
Rowling follows less than 700 accounts on Twitter, and she recently added the aggressively anti-trans YouTuber Magdalen Berns to that list. Berns, who has called transgender people “Blackface actors” has filled her YouTube account with videos like “There is no such thing as a lesbian with a penis” and “Misgendering is violence? Nah, mate!” and plenty of arguments over “genital preferences.” Her Twitter account is no different. It’s nothing but anti-trans bullshit.
— transadvocate (@transadvocate) June 23, 2019
And that wasn’t Rowling’s only recent anti-trans follow. She followed Fionne Orlander, a transwoman who also identifies as male and spouts and retweets a lot of transphobic awfulness. She also followed Julie Bindel, who has written extensively for years against transgender civil rights.
A rep for Rowling told PinkNews in a statement, “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.” Anti-trans sentiments have established a stronghold in British feminism (as the NYT recently explored) and it sure seems like Rowling considers that movement “thought-provoking” rather than abhorrent, as one might hope.
Oh, and for what it’s worth, Rowling also followed a Johnny Depp stan account that leans hard into the anti-Amber Heard narrative.
Those appear to all be recent follows, but there are plenty more buried deeper.
For a lot of people, this will raise the question of what this means for their fandom. Can they still enjoy Harry Potter and the rest of that franchise? I’m of the strong opinion that yes you can and you don’t have to let this change your memory of what those books might have meant to you growing up (or still mean to you now).
However, if this sort of behavior upsets you, you don’t have to alter your past, but it’s probably worth thinking about your present and future. Meaning, what and who we choose to give our money to makes a difference, and we have the ability to, as they say, vote with our wallets.
If we buy the new books, see the new movies, play the new games, or buy the new merch, we’re not just giving money to a TERF (although we are doing that too). We’re giving money to someone with a gigantic platform who is serving to normalize transphobia for her audience, many of whom are young people.
(image: John Phillips/Getty Images)
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