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!
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).)
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:
- 8 Fantasy Novels by Trans and Nonbinary Authors (Electric Lit)
- 15 Trans, Nonbinary, and Gender Non-Conforming Writers to Support (Book Riot)
- Trans Books by Trans Authors (Goodreads list)
- Trans YA Books by Trans Authors (YA Pride)
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:
- National Center for Transgender Equality
- The Sylvia Rivera Law Project
- Trans Women of Color Collective
- any of the organizations on this list
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!).
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?