On June 6, J.K. Rowling posted this message on Twitter: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Rowling also posted another tweet minutes after the first one. “If sex isn’t real,” she wrote, “there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
These tweets have caused outrage and have sparked controversy, with many people saying “Trans women are women.”
Singer Mary Lambert replied to Rowling in another tweet, saying, “What the actual f***??? This is so disgraceful, @jk_rowling. Of all the hills to die on, and for what reason? Trans women are women and they are fighting for their lives. When you push this trans exclusionary agenda, you make their lives infinitely more difficult. Shame on you.”
She continued, “You have power and influence. Why would you do this? What does it achieve? Do you feel more like a woman when you punch down? Are you threatened? Some trans men menstruate. Why does that affect you? Why do you want to police that?”
The singer Halsey also has made her voice heard. “Imagine writing a generation defining series about a youth uprisal that defeats a tyrannical monster motivated by the preservation of ‘pure blood’ and looking at THIS time in the world and going ‘hmm… yep. I’m gonna invalidate trans people.'”
For those of you that haven’t read Harry Potter, the antagonist of the series, Lord Voldemort, is focused on getting rid of all people who don’t have “pure-blood.” In terms of what is happening right now, is Rowling considering trans people not human? Is she considering people who are questioning their gender not of “pure-blood?” If she is, that is so utterly wrong.
Personally, I am also outraged by this message that the Harry Potter author is putting out. I am a huge Harry Potter fan, and it greatly changed my life. I greatly admired Rowling’s ability to get through tough times, considering she wrote the best-selling series while she was going through depression. But now, I am disappointed and upset at her.
We are in the middle of a pandemic and a human rights movement right now, and J.K. Rowling puts this out? Is it really necessary? I don’t think so.
Gender is not determined by menstruation. Women are not defined by their periods. Not at all. If a person feels like their assigned gender doesn’t apply to them, they have every right to think that way. And the fact that Rowling feels that way is hurtful and concerning.
With these tweets, Rowling is hurting transgender people that had previously looked up to her. And now she is making trans people question themselves even more. According to the Trevor Project, an organization that supports LGBTQ+ people, 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity.
Rowling seems to be oblivious to the fact that queer and transgender black lives are more at risk during this human rights movement. People have found comfort in the Harry Potter series, but now, when the author of the books that saved their lives turns out to be transphobic, they can feel endangered and hurt. Actually, lots of people who are questioning who they are have seriously considered suicide, but Rowling seems to be unaware of that fact or she just decides to ignore it.
Many Harry Potter actors and actresses have also made their opinions known. Daniel Radcliffe, the lead actor of the franchise, recently published an essay addressing Rowling’s tweets. “While Jo [Rowling] is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment.”
He continued, “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
Radcliffe later stated in the essay, “To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.” You can view the whole essay here.
Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, said in a series of tweets, “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are. I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you, and love you for who you are.”
Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the series, tweeted, “If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgment or question. Transwomen are Women. I see and love you, Bonnie x”
Evanna Lynch, who took the role of Luna Lovegood, said, “I also think we should be in therapy, not on Twitter taking lumps out of one another.”
Kacen Callender, the trans author of the recently released Felix Ever After, said in an article, “I gave an emotional speech, telling a room full of strangers that J.K. Rowling and the Harry Potter series had saved my life. Isolated, bullied, and feeling zero hope for the future, I’d been planning to die by suicide as a child. I never planned to live past the age of sixteen.”
They continued, “It was difficult to come to terms with the fact that this came from the same author who had saved my life, who had offered so much hope during the years when I’d wanted to die, who made me feel powerful, and who had taught an entire generation empathy and love… While I immediately knew I could no longer support Rowling, I initially had a harder time untangling my emotions from Harry Potter.” You can view the whole article here.
This shows that people are losing their support in Rowling. Many of my friends are Harry Potter fans, and we are sad and upset at Rowling for feeling this way about other people. One of my friends told me, “It’s so sad that someone so brilliant can’t have an open mind about other people’s sexualities.” And I 100% agree.
I greatly admire J.K. Rowling’s writing abilities and ideas. Her persistence is inspiring. But people are quick to stop supporting her. For example, people are encouraging people to burn their copies of their Harry Potter books. People are saying to forget Hogwarts houses and find other ways to define themselves. Some people are even going as far as to wish for the author’s death.
One Harry Potter character is also trending. People are talking about Cho Chang, the only East Asian character. Since I’m Asian myself, I find it ridiculous that there is only one East Asian character and her name has to be Cho Chang. It seems very stereotypical, and pretty much all Cho did was date people and cry. (She also fought in the Battle of Hogwarts, but that’s different.) Asians are more capable than that. We’re all more capable than dating people and crying.
I’m disappointed that, after almost a decade of writing a series centered around how love is the strongest force of all and that how pure your blood is doesn’t matter, J.K. Rowling has to come out like this. Even in these hard times, let’s try to focus on the little things that give us joy- even if it’s in a magical world created with words on a page.