Moving house is hard – especially when it comes to having to sort out your books. For me, there were three decades worth of them to go through.
Looking at my bookcase ahead of a recent relocation, I realised an entire shelf was dedicated to the Harry Potter series. All seven were original, first releases – all hardback, and in mint condition.
I’d not touched them for years.
I felt breathless as I savoured the memories of reading the books as a child. Of growing up with Harry, Ron and Hermione – thinking of them as friends.
I remembered reading JK Rowling’s words and feeling carefree, whimsical, aspirational.
Then, I threw them into the charity pile – hoping someone would be able to separate the art from the artist. But, to me, the poison ivy is so entangled in the bricks and mortar that it’s impossible to separate.
Looking back, they should have gone in the bin – where they belonged.
I once devoured these books, but now I despised them. These inanimate objects, and everything they stood for now disgusted me.
As a feminist and trans ally, I feel like I can’t own them any longer.
I once devoured these books, but now I despised them. These inanimate objects, and everything they stood for now disgusted me
I was a huge Harry Potter fan (the word ‘was’ here is important). I had the scarves, the merch, the posters, badges, outfits.
My siblings and I begged my parents to take us to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter resort in Florida where we drank Butterbeer, and my sister was ‘the chosen one’ in Ollivander’s wand shop.
I even had a themed 18th birthday party where a friend turned up as Dobby the House Elf, dressed in just a pillowcase.
When the Order of the Phoenix, the fifth book in the series was released, I queued outside ASDA at midnight.
I dressed as Harry Potter while my sister dressed as the invisibility cloak, and had her picture taken for the staff newsletter.
Little did I know back then how much the Harry Potter legacy would be distorted and tainted beyond recognition.
Beyond the pale. And by its own creator.
For years, I’d lost hours to these books that I once thought were wonderful. They had positive messages of embracing yourself, your true self – and as a lost, bullied and ‘different’ young teen, I finally felt like I’d found somewhere to belong amongst these pages.
They were the reason I’m a writer today, and I truly pictured myself reading these books to my children. Well, no more.
They will help me teach my children about equality, love and feminism – but not in the way I imagined.
Now, as an adult – a true feminist and a trans ally – they stand for everything I actively campaign against. They were penned by a force that I see so much unnecessary toxicity in.
To place them in the charity pile felt like losing an old friend, but it’s a toxic friendship that needed cutting off.
Though it feels like I’ve thrown out a part of my childhood and heart with them, I never want to read, touch or even set eyes on them again.
What they once stood for, about an outsider belonging, isn’t valuable to me any longer – and it pains me to say that.
I don’t believe that JK Rowling is a true feminist, and she certainly doesn’t represent me as a straight cis woman, or ally to the LGBTQ+ community.
Over the years, JK Rowling’s has seemingly identified more and more with TERFism – trans exclusionary radical feminism – which I believe mocks, belittles and demonises trans people.
And in turn, she has demonised herself.
Even today, in her tweets and personal essays, in my view she consistently perpetuates harmful, malicious trans stereotypes, implying that only women can menstruate – not people – and that trans activists are dangerous, ‘terrifying’ and violent.
Ultimately, Rowling seems to believe that not recognising biological sex somehow banishes decades of women’s trauma.
‘If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,’ she tweeted back in June 2020 – adding that ‘erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives.’
‘I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it,’ she penned in an essay a few days later.
There’s no doubt that women’s history has been coloured by trauma – the present still is – but that history should include trans women’s trauma, too. They’re women, too.
Instead, Rowling believes that trans women shouldn’t share single sex spaces – spaces they’re legally allowed to. ‘When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth,’ she wrote.
Similarly, I’ve been sickened by her recent tweets on Scotland’s revolutionary Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill – a much-needed law designed to make it easier for trans people to change their legally recognised gender – and the debate on permitting trans women in female prisons.
Online, she stated that ‘a hulking great rapist doesn’t become a woman by putting on a wig’, while sharing salacious stories about the ‘cruel and degrading’ punishment of women ‘forced’ to share shower blocks with ‘male-bodied sex offenders’.
The simple truth is that dangerous men will always find a way to abuse women – they don’t need to ‘pretend’ to be anything different, and uniformly excluding trans people from single-sex spaces certainly won’t stop predators.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that one of Rowling’s recent books (which she writes under a man’s pen name, in a delicious sense of irony) features a male serial killer in a dress.
Rowling once said that ‘I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans’ – well, where has she been?
I don’t see her protesting against the fact that reports of hate crimes against transgender people are rising- all I see is hatred.
Where is she, except isolating trans women’s trauma by funding a rape help centre, solely for cis women?
I don’t see her ‘marching’ – all I see is her demonising her own name and legacy by excluding trans people from the conversation, and using discrediting, humiliating and outright degrading terms to describe a body of people she supposedly ‘knows and loves’.
This is far from love.
For someone who knows the value of the written word, her phrasing suggests only bitterness and contempt. She has penned her own fate – and I couldn’t ignore the bad smell on my bookcase for any longer.
I can’t allow books, written by someone with such apparent disdain for a community I stand behind, to sit on my shelves. In my home, or in my presence. As a loyal, real feminist – one that stands for equality for ‘all’, and not some – I can’t be associated with hate.
Now, I’ll be investing in books and authors that transport me to new worlds, better ones. Ones without her in it.
Ask yourself: are you doing the same? And if not, why?
It’s time for everyone to close the chapter on JK Rowling – for good.
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