“Potter” Fans and Cast Members Respond to J.K. Rowling’s Latest Tweet
On December 19, 2019, J.K. Rowling tweeted in support of Maya Forstater, a woman who was fired for posting transphobic tweets.
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
Rowling’s tweet was immediately noticed by Potter fans, and many were disappointed in the author. Reactions began to pour in from the community, including several opinion pieces. Jackson Bird, the Harry Potter Alliance’s former Director of Wizard-Muggle Relations, shared his experiences as a trans Potter fan in a New York Times article.
Bird gave a TED Talk in 2017 on demystifying trans identity, and in his Times article, he describes seeing Rowling’s tweet as “a punch in the gut.” Bird was already active in the fandom when he came out as trans, and he “never doubted” the community would accept him.
After all, we all adhered to the values we learned from the books about being yourself, loving those who are different from you, and sticking up for the underdog.
Bird goes on to identify moments in the Potter series that inspired him to be himself, from Hagrid saying “I am what I am, an’ I’m not ashamed” to the importance of love in Harry’s life. He wonders, like many other fans, if he can separate the books from the author after being thoroughly disappointed by her beliefs, but he reminds himself that his favorite aspect of the fandom can never be destroyed.
The real magic for me is what people have created around the books and the community we have built together. […] I think of a community that gave me a new home, my own kind of Hogwarts, after I came out as transgender — a community that continues to foster that same safe space for every queer or trans person who needs it, and [that] commits itself intentionally toward growth and learning in its inclusion.
The responses to Rowling’s tweet have continued to prove Bird’s point. Potter cast members, podcasters, and fans have been extremely outspoken in their support of the trans community. Chris Rankin (Percy Weasley) kept his message simple.
Having drafted and redrafted and then deleted and rewritten some thoughts, I think this covers it.@nesstaann and I started the House of #ChrisNess as a virtual chosen family for anyone who needs it. Especially within the lgbtqia+ community. You are loved.
— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin) December 20, 2019
Evanna Lynch initially struggled to find the words to make a statement and tried to keep a positive mindset about the tweet.
I haven’t responded because I don’t know how to respond. My heart goes out to anyone similarly disillusioned. I can only imagine Jo has no concept of how many people she’s hurt with this tweet. But my relationship to Jo is different to the public, same as the rest of the cast,
— Evanna Lynch (@Evy_Lynch) December 21, 2019
Despite the site being down at the time, MuggleNet also tweeted in support of the trans community.
We technically aren’t supposed to be tweeting, but we want every single Potter fan out there to know that the MuggleNet community stands with you. We see you. We hear you. We support you. pic.twitter.com/5ys5tn5Z04
— MuggleNet: #1 Wizarding World Resource Since 1999 (@MuggleNet) December 19, 2019
Rori Porter for Medium called for the “canceling” of Rowling, claiming the author “has historically misused her platform in ways that can only disenfranchise minority people.” Porter explains that Rowling’s words can be extremely detrimental to trans people, particularly trans youth. She calls for trans allies to cease supporting Rowling and defending her views.
Since Rowling’s tweet, fans have rallied together to support the trans community. The author has yet to release a statement in response to her tweet or the reactions to it.