By Eva Zhu — Savannah Bagshaw says growing up, J.K. Rowling created a whole new universe for her and many others. It was an inclusive community, where everyone had a chance to be accepted and find solace in their own way.
Now, the 24-year-old says she no longer admires Rowling after hearing about the transphobic comments the Harry Potter author has been posting on Twitter over the past few days.
“I couldn’t believe the same person that made so many children, especially those who related to Harry and felt like an outcast, feel so safe could make them instantly feel so unaccepted,” says Bagshaw.
The most controversial tweet was Rowling’s response to an article titled “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” Rowling wrote, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Twitter users from around the world were quick to condemn Rowling’s words, calling them transphobic. Many people also called her a TERF, which stands for ‘trans exclusionary radical feminist.’ The term is used to describe feminists who don’t think of transgender women as ‘real women.’
On Monday, even Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe weighed in. In a blog post for The Trevor Project—a non-profit organization focusing on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth—he voiced support for the transgender community.
While this tweet may have been the last straw for many Harry Potter fans, especially those who are in the LGBTQ+ community, this isn’t the first time Rowling has been accused of being transphobic. In December of last year, she was called out for a tweet supporting Maya Forstater, a woman who lost her job at the Centre for Global Development after posting a series of transphobic tweets regarding the government’s plans to allow transgender people to self-identify their gender.
Bagshaw, who is part of the LGBTQ+ community, says Rowling’s public comments feel like a betrayal. It’s hard for her to think that the same person who truly created a place for everyone to feel welcomed could be so intolerant, she says.
Nara Monteiro, a dedicated Harry Potter fan and member of the LGBTQ+ community, says she will continue to read the books, as they are one of the tools she uses to manage her mental illness, but admits that she keeps her relationship with the books separate from any external influence.
“It’s narrowed and became more tunnel vision-y because Harry Potter is really important to me. I am keeping my relationship to it isolated and not worrying about the comments that she has made.”
While Monteiro says she stopped paying close attention to Rowling’s comments years ago and has no problem talking about the author’s transphobia, she’s aware that many people will feel uncomfortable with the topic.
“I am going to be more conscious of who is in the room with me who can be hurt by the mention of this. If somebody I know is like ‘I don’t really want to hear about it anymore.’ I am going to stop and respect that because I can understand how the comments can be and are hurtful.”
Unlike Monteiro, Bagshaw isn’t sure if she can continue to support anything created by Rowling.
“I grew up with Harry Potter, I confided in the world she created and invited countless others to find the same comfort in it and now, I don’t know what to do.”