Transphobes Have Come Up With ‘Harry Potter’ Dogwhistles for Their Hate Speech
Over the past few years, as J.K. Rowling has wholeheartedly embraced transphobia, the Harry Potter franchise has become a haven for other anti-trans bigots. Now, with the upcoming release of Hogwarts Legacy, transphobes have found a new way to express their hate: Harry Potter-themed transphobic dogwhistles.
Filmmaker and writer Jesse Earl first reported the new dogwhistle earlier this month, when transphobes started commenting on her Youtube videos with the words “Avada Kedavra.”
Avada kedavra, an Aramaic phrase that translates into “I destroy as I speak,” is one of the three Unforgivable Curses in the Harry Potter series. When cast, it instantly kills its target. Since Earl’s tweet, multiple people have proven her point by publicly responding to her with the curse. Transphobes have also responded by bragging that they’ve bought copies of Hogwarts Legacy, disproving the idea that the game can be separated from Rowling’s transphobia.
Some commenters on Twitter have waved off the harassment, dismissing it as dorky and pathetic—and yes, using a fictional curse from a children’s book as your method of hate speech certainly is both of those things. But as sad as this kind of hate speech is, it’s vital to understand that, as Earl notes, saying “I kill you” in any language is a death threat. Like all death threats, it needs to be taken seriously and dealt with aggressively.
Why are transphobes resorting to such an infantile way of expressing their hate? It may partly be because the conversation around transphobic bigotry is currently centering around Harry Potter, so they think they’re being extra cute or hurtful by using a Harry Potter reference.
However, the whole point of a dogwhistle is that it slips by those who don’t know what it means, making it easier for bigots to communicate with each other and proliferate hate speech. In this case, transphobes are able to express an especially vile form of transphobia without using words that would normally trigger deletion or suspension. Factor in all the possible variant spellings of the curse, and you can see how it allows transphobes to launch a free-for-all of hate speech.
Harry Potter has always been problematic, but the franchise used to offer its fans some semblance of a moral compass. Now, it’s little more than an outlet for bigots to indulge in their most depraved impulses.
Congratulations, Joanne—you’ve definitely cemented your legacy.
(featured image: Warner Bros. Games)
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