How to be a Harry Potter fan without supporting J.K. Rowling ever again

Well folks, here we are again: J.K. Rowling is once again being a trash person.

As you probably already know, J.K. Rowling has in the past made some transphobic statements indicating that she is a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist); in other words, she doesn’t believe that trans women are women. Obviously this is an incredibly harmful and dangerous belief, but instead of apologizing or educating herself, she recently decided to double down on these convictions, first in a series of tweets last week and then in a long blog post (which I recommend not reading).

To be perfectly clear, JKR’s views about trans people are 100% not okay. This isn’t the first time that she’s made statements that are at the very least questionable, which is why I cannot in good conscience support her in any way.

At the same time, I know that I can’t completely cut Harry Potter out of my life. Harry Potter has been such a formative part of my life for almost fifteen years; it’s given me community — many of my lasting friendships began on a shared love of Harry Potter — as well as countless happy memories and a safe landing place to return whenever life feels like too much. The Harry Potter books have been a comfort, an inspiration, a home.

I hate the J.K. Rowling has tarnished my love for this series that used to be pure and uncomplicated, but I hate even more that she’s using her platform to spread disgusting ideas that hurt people who have grown up looking up to her and her characters. So I completely understand why so many people feel like they have to turn their backs on Harry Potter for good.

However, this post is for people who, like me, want to continue being a fan of Harry Potter separate from its creator and without supporting her in any way. This isn’t meant to shame people who have supported JKR in the past — goodness knows I would be implicating myself as much as anyone — but instead for those of us who want to go forward conscientiously as a Harry Potter fan while acknowledging the harm JKR has done.

I understand that there is a certain amount of privilege in my ability to continue loving the Harry Potter series despite JKR’s transphobia; as a cisgender woman, her beliefs don’t directly hurt my life. I would never want to tell anyone how to react to this, so if you feel like you can’t consider yourself a Harry Potter fan anymore, I completely understand. For more thoughts on the topic of reclaiming the art from the artist, I highly recommend Kay @ Hammock of Books’ wonderful post.

Okay, super long intro over. You came here to see how to be a Harry Potter fan without supporting J.K. Rowling, so let’s talk about that!

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The first and most obvious way of not supporting J.K. Rowling is by avoiding giving her any money. Even though she is, like, a gazillionare at this point, and your efforts not to give her a few dollars won’t make a huge difference, I view it as more of a moral choice.

Don’t buy the books or movies

I mean, it’s pretty straightforward: buying the Harry Potter books or movies puts money directly into J.K. Rowling’s pocket. So this means not buying the special edition books that are released every few years (which is something that I’ve continued to do until recently). (If you must get the books, buy used copies.) It also means not seeing the new Fantastic Beasts movies in theaters, whenever those come out — though let’s be real, after the mess that was Crimes of Grindelwald, was anyone going to watch them anyway??

Don’t buy official merch, visit Wizarding World, or see the Cursed Child

Official Harry Potter merchandise (aka the stuff from Warner Brothers) also monetarily benefits JKR. But this doesn’t mean never buying a Harry Potter t-shirt again! See below for more options. JKR also gets money from tickets to Harry Potter and the Cursed Child and Universal’s Wizarding World of Harry Potter. As someone who’s been longing to go to the Wizarding World for ten years, this is pretty sad for me, but that’s the reality of it.

For more information, you can check out this Forbes article about where JKR’s money comes from, in order to avoid contributing to that.

(Edit as of 9/27/20: Several commenters have pointed out that boycotting the Wizarding World also hurts employees there — and the same can be said for the Cursed Child actors or the developers behind the new Hogwarts Legacy game. This is a good point! I just want people to be aware of where their money is going, since JKR still gets paid even when some of the money goes to much more deserving people. It’s not my, or anyone else’s, job to make that choice for you. Personally, I feel that giving any of my money to her signals that I’m okay with what she’s doing, which I’m very much not, but not everyone feels the same way and that’s okay! Check out this Twitter thread to find out more about the money behind the Hogwarts Legacy game (as well as a great discussion about what giving JKR money means).)

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The other part of not supporting JKR is by supporting other voices, particularly the people hurt most by her harmful views.

Acknowledge the problems

The Harry Potter series was never completely “unproblematic,” even before JKR starting spewing her transphobia all over Twitter. They lack diversity, often rely on stereotypes and outdated themes, and more. I think that it’s possible to love a series that’s not ideologically pure, though, as long as you’re questioning the motives behind these choices and realizing that just because something doesn’t hurt you doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt someone else.

Read books by trans authors

If you’re a Harry Potter fan who doesn’t support JKR’s transphobia, then a great way to combat that is finding books by trans authors to support! Luckily, there are tons of amazing books out there. I could honestly turn this into an entire post of recommendations, but instead I’ll just direct you to some other resources:

Support trans causes

J.K. Rowling’s transphobia does not exist in a bubble. Trans people are among the most vulnerable group in the world, a position that has recently become even more precarious in the US because of the Trump administration’s moves to take away protection from discrimination for trans people in health care. To show support for trans people hurt not only by JKR’s comments but by systemic attempts to take away their rights, you can donate to and advocate for trans rights causes, such as:

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The best thing to come out of Harry Potter, in my opinion, is all the amazing fan content. The way I see it, Harry Potter doesn’t belong to J.K. Rowling anymore — Harry Potter belongs to the people who were inspired by these stories to make the world a better, brighter, and more accepting place. So if you want to support some of the people who do that, support the fans instead!

Buy fan merch

If you still want to have a Harry Potter poster on your wall or wear Slytherin socks, you can still do that. Fans create tons of HP merchandise that doesn’t support JKR in any way. Just check Etsy! Plus, lots of it is so much better than the official merch, such as actually creating merch for Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, or making the Ravenclaw mascot an eagle as it’s supposed to be. It’s win-win all around.

Consume fan media (art, podcasts, music, etc.)

This just in: you can be a fan of Harry Potter without ever giving money to its creator ever again! There are so many incredible fan artists out there creating HP inspired art who you can support. Wizard rock is an entire genre of music! Harry Potter fanfiction is still going strong. And there are countless Harry Potter podcasts that are both critical of the series and appreciate it for what it is. A few of my personal recommendations are Harry Potter and the Sacred Text, Potterless, #WizardTeam, The Real Weird Sisters, and Pottercast. Supporting the fans — most of whom are so much more diverse and accepting than JKR could ever dream of being — shows how wonderful the HP community can be even when the woman who created it is a garbage person.

Support the Harry Potter Alliance (and other HP-adjacent organizations)

The Harry Potter Alliance is an organization that, in their words, “turns fans into heroes.” They take on so many incredible activist causes, such as racial justice, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, immigration and so much more, by encouraging young people to get excited about these causes through their passion for Harry Potter. Their work is so, so important, and you can help out in many ways, from donating money to volunteering your time.

A few more organizations that you can support (thank you to Brian for bringing these to my attention!):

  • Transfiguring Adoption: develops media, resources, and tools that nurture growth in foster and adoptive children with a focus on resourcing foster and adoptive parents. (They also have an adorable children’s book full of magical creatures!)
  • The Protego Foundation: fights to end the abuse of the creatures in the no-maj world inspired by the Wizarding World
  • Potterhead Running Club: motivates Harry Potter fans to be more physically active while raising funds for awesome non-profits (like the ones above!).

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What are your thoughts on being a Harry Potter fan despite its terrible creator? Can you separate the art from the artist? How do you plan to support trans voices and fan content?

x Margaret

goodreads | twitter

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36 thoughts on “How to be a Harry Potter fan without supporting J.K. Rowling ever again

  1. Great post! JKR has been infuriating me for a while now, and I’ve been trying to find ways to separate the art from the artist. Harry Potter has been a huge part of my life for many years, and it’s so disheartening to see her make these atrocious comments, so this post was a wonderful insight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Her Twitter account is actually one of the reasons why I don’t have Twitter. I love Harry Potter and I always will and I am not transphobia. I don’t think anybody should take anybody’s interests away from them. One person’s beliefs automatically isn’t another person’s beliefs. I am glad that so many of the HP actors and actresses have stood up for the transgender community.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. This is such a great post! I only got back into Harry Potter last year and JKR’s disgusting views has made me seriously question whether I want to continue reading the books. If I do continue with them I’m definitely going to buy them used because I can’t justify giving someone who uses their gigantic platform to spread such hatred.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is such a wonderful post, Margaret, thank you for sharing! You’ve put so eloquently into words what I just key-smashed in anger about, haha, and I appreciate that. It’s hard to know what the right way moving forward is, particularly because there’s definitely no set right way. For me, I think I’m going to stop talking about Harry Potter on my blog and just reread them in the peace of my own home, which, as you’ve said, is a big bit of privilege that we’re able to still enjoy it. I totally respect those who still want to yell about it publicly, though, or those who want to just drop it altogether. It’s such a terrible place to be in, and I keep thinking “at least we still have Daniel”, but he shouldn’t have to be the voice of something he didn’t create, and it’s just awful that that’s been taken from us. I looked up to her for so long, and now I want nothing to do with her.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Mary! I’m so glad it came across as eloquent haha because the first draft of this post pretty much was an angry key-smash 😅
      Yes, I definitely agree that there is no set right way to move forward after this. I think a lot of people are going to stop loving HP like they used to, and that’s completely understandable. I’m with you that I’m definitely going to stop talking about it as much and basically just enjoy the books in private. It was so wonderful to have Daniel Radcliffe speaking up! But yes, it’s just awful how open she’s being about her transphobia, and I also want nothing to do with her.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh boy, yeah, I totally feel that. Every time I’ve tried to write something, it just gets full of rage REAL quick.

        I had so many Harry Potter tattoos planned, but now, it just feels wrong to get them. I keep telling myself at least we have JRR Tolkien! Since he’s dead, there’s a low chance of him having done some terrible we don’t already know about!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Fantastic post, Margaret, and thanks so much for sharing my post ❤ I'm definitely going to avoid buying anything else from her–well, time to look for a homemade butterbeer recipe instead of the Wizarding World one haha. Thanks so much for sharing all these resources too! I'm definitely going to be looking more into books by trans authors, and also those Harry Potter podcasts sound amazing and I need to check them out! I definitely agree and love your statement that even though JKR is trash, the HP community can be much more diverse and accepting and wonderful ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Kay! Yes, those all sound like wonderful ideas – and homemade butterbeer sounds great 😀 You absolutely should check out those HP podcasts! And yes, the HP community has always been so much more than what JKR created, and nothing can take that away ❤

      Liked by 1 person

  6. I really needed this post. Thanks so much for writing it–you’ve really offered some practical advice on how to reread my current copies and enjoy them without spending more money on the franchise. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is such a helpful post! It’s such a difficult situation because of her harmful words and we don’t want to give her any more promo but at the same time, it’s hard to just cut HP out of your life.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This is a great post! I really wasn’t sure how to continue loving Harry Potter but not support J.K., and this helped a lot!! I do have one question though: Would buying from a third party seller (like a an ebay seller or a random seller on Amazon) be okay? I feel like buying second hand items would be okay, seeing as my money goes only to the seller, but I’m not 100% on it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m so glad this could be helpful for you, and great question! Authors don’t get any money when you buy secondhand books, so that would be a great way if you want to buy HP without giving her anything. Also a good thing to keep in mind when there are authors you DO want to financially support!

      Like

  9. Ok. I understand not wanting to support her. But not visiting Wizarding World isn’t hurting her as much as it’s hurting the employees of Universal Theme Parks. Wizarding World is a HUGE draw to the parks. For some it’s the only reason they go to Universal. If enough people boycot, park numbers go down, and jobs are lost. Universal team members have suffered enough with losing jobs and/being furloughed due to covid, please don’t add to the hardship. She’s gonna be rich regardless, the team members won’t.
    Just food for thought.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s understandable! With this post I simply wanted to shed light on what to avoid in order to not give JKR any money, but I certainly wouldn’t want to tell anyone what they can and can’t do. The choice of whether or not to go to the Wizarding World is up to each person. The way I see it, giving money to her in any way – even if that money also goes to much more deserving people – signals that what she’s doing is acceptable to me, which it’s not. I know that my individual choices aren’t going to impact her wealth in any significant way, but this is what makes me feel better 🤷‍♀️ But again, not everyone is going to feel the same as me, and that’s fine!

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  10. I completely agree that JKR’s twitter posts have been transphobic, but I also think some of your points miss the mark. You state that “They lack diversity, often rely on stereotypes and outdated themes, and more.” but you forget that the first Harry Potter book is over 20 years old. Do you really think that 20 years ago parents would have allowed their elementary and middle school children to read a book filled with extraneous details about characters sexualities and racial troubles when it is not central to the plot? 20 years ago we also had no similar push for minority representation in kids literature. Additionally, the whole series is built on a metaphor of racial persecution of mudbloods and repeatedly emphasizes the point that someones parentage or race doesn’t define their virtue. Maybe she wanted to approach this topic in a way that made kids think morally without choosing to engage with american racial trouble. This doesn’t make it impure, it makes it British and for kids.
    Overall, I appreciate the sentiment of your post but I can tell you that your inability to see this in any way other than with the 2020 lens would make you a lousy historian.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Harry Potter came out in a different time, but that doesn’t mean we can’t critique it from today’s vantage point. Even though some of the more problematic elements of the Harry Potter series might not have been considered problematic when they were written, we can’t just accept them today without examining the biases and ignorances that they’re built upon. We can — and should — enjoy and appreciate art that’s not completely without flaws, but I think we need to also have conversations about those flaws.
      I also find it perplexing that you assume that including diversity would mean content that’s “inappropriate” for children, or that having characters of different races and sexualities would necessitate revolving the stories around sexuality or racial troubles. It’s possible to have diverse characters without changing the story at all. And JKR’s metaphor of racial injustice might have been a little more impactful if the entire main cast hadn’t been white. (Also, race issues are not just American. People of color exist in the UK too.)
      I am looking at this through a 2020 lens. This post was in no way meant to be an in-depth examination of the historical context in which Harry Potter was written; it’s a discussion about the things JKR is saying in 2020. It’s okay to look back at something written in a different time and realize that not everything in it is okay anymore. I’m not exactly trying to be a historian and I don’t know what gave you that idea, so 🤷‍♀️

      Like

  11. I really appreciate the thought of this post but I do not agree to cut out Universal Studios. Please please please still visit the park. There are tens of thousands of employees counting on visitors. Steer clear of the wizarding world if you must but Universal has made their positive liberal stances (Love is Universal, Black Lives Matter) and deserves support. They’re the only theme park that paid their full time employees throughout the entire Covid closure and continues to assist those that are furloughed. I completely agree with everything else though. She is a trash person and I hope she realizes it soon.

    Like

    1. Thanks for pointing that out! With this post, I wanted to make sure people were aware of where their money goes when they go to Wizarding World, but I think it’s up to each person to decide if they still want to go. All of those things that Universal has done sound wonderful, and I definitely agree that the employees deserve better!

      Like

  12. This is a great article, thank you. I stopped supporting/listening to JKR awhile ago, but just can’t give up being a HP fan. One other thing that make it more complicated for me that I think most people don’t know about is how licensing deals work. Whenever a company is given a license to make official product there is a garentee involved. This means that WB or Rowling gets X amount of money no matter if the product sells. If the company making the product doesn’t sell enough they have to pay the guarantee out of pocket. In these cases it hurts the manufacturer more than JKR. If they take enough of a loss they won’t renew the license, but if they take too big of a loss they could go under or have layoffs etc.

    Like

    1. Thanks for reading! Yes, absolutely — I’m certainly no expert on licensing deals, so thanks for explaining that. Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way of supporting the manufacturer while not supporting JKR.

      Like

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