Harry Potter and the Transphobic Tweet: How JK Rowling let down LGBTQ readers
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Image courtesy of BBC
In a tweet defending a ‘feminist’ researcher for her discriminatory comments on transgender people, JK Rowling has once again revealed that her knowledge of the LGBTQ community is nothing more than surface level.
On 19 December, Judge James Tayler of The Central London Employment Tribunal overruled tax expert Maya Forstater’s contract renewal with the Centre for Global Development, for her “offensive and exclusionary” tweets opposing proposed reforms to the Gender Recognition Act.
After Forstater’s controversial tweet in 2018, stating that “Men cannot change into women.” the ruling was seen as win for inclusivity by many LGBTQ activists. But now another TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) has reared their ugly head, none other than the architect of the Magical World of Harry Potter, JK Rowling.
Shocked? No… me neither.
JK Rowling doesn’t care for us LGBTQ folk. Like many rich white businesspeople, Rowling is notorious for being tokenistic in her representation of minorities. She clumsily appropriates different cultures to help build an already confusing magical lore for her fantastical world and abuses LGBTQ people’s desire to be seen in mainstream media for the sole purpose of profit. Rowling is not the sassy, caring McGonagall we thought she was; she’s Umbridge
In 2007, three months after concluding the Harry Potter saga with the Deathly Hallows, Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was in fact gay and had a complicated relationship with Grindelwald. Forget that it would take a close reading of all seven books to find some glimmer of truth in what Rowling said, retconning her own series after its conclusion wasn’t just to diversify a bunch of straight, colourful characters. It was also for opportunism; to cash in on an already record-breaking sale for the most novels sold in 24 hours (2.64 million in the UK).
She could have very well written Dumbledore as gay, but Rowling’s profitable intentions become clear when, over a decade later, the Fantastic Beasts series spewed out a sequel that intended to explore Dumbledore’s earlier life, including his relationship with Grindelwald.
Hurray! Finally, a blockbuster film will have one of its main protagonists be openly gay! Wait, what? Director David Yates has openly admitted that Dumbledore’s sexuality and relationship with Grindelwald will not be explored? And JK Rowling defends this choice? Well… shit.
But seriously, The Crimes of Grindelwald would have been the perfect (and possibly only) chance for Rowling to clarify Dumbledore’s sexuality, and give mainstream cinema some much needed LGBTQ representation. The community needs more than one breakthrough (Love, Simon) into mainstream cinema to finally feel as if they are included within typical media discourse. Not everyone wants or has to label their sexuality or gender, but there’s a distinction between showing and telling. Rowling claiming Dumbledore and Grindelwald were lovers without using this opportunity to make that explicitly clear is insincere to LGBTQ fans and shows how far her institutionalised homophobia goes.
Defending Forstater by publicising her transphobia feels like yet another nail in the coffin for our ‘woke’ author, who seems to be relying more frequently on her publicist to explain away her controversial behaviour. By implying via tweet that transgender people are simply promiscuous men that like to wear dresses, JK Rowling is forcing her LGBTQ readers back into some closet under the stairs. As for her transgender fans, who may now never know if Hogwarts would have accommodated them, she’s locking that closet door up tight.