One of the reasons why people are so hurt by Rowling's comments is that for so many, the Harry Potter books were a source of comfort and even lifesaving during their childhoods. Back in 2019—unfortunately Rowling has a history of transphobia—one young reader tweeted, "I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears... Why. Why?"
On top of this, so many of the deaths and instances of police brutality that many Black Lives Matter activists are protesting were ones carried out against Black transgender people. Tony McDade, Nina Pop, Iyanna Dior all suffered because of their marginalised identities, and for Rowling to take this stand now is tone-deaf at best and deliberately violent at worst. She really didn't read the room, or, you know the biggest civil rights uprising the world has ever seen.
The transgender activist and model Munroe Bergdorf called Rowling out on her very poorly timed transphobia. "These times are hard enough without YOU, a wealthy white woman, tweeting transphobia from your mansion," she tweeted. "Trans people really don't need your bullshit right now. Do us all a favour and give it a rest. To say that you're a disappointment is an understatement."
She also noted that many Indigenous and native cultures around the world didn't even think of gender along binary lines—just "male/female"—and that Rowling's comments also indicate her very narrow, white-centric view of the world. Well... looking at the amount of non-white characters in Harry Potter, she has a point.
The Scottish-Chinese actress Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter films made her own Twitter post after Rowling's most recent transphobic comments. "So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes," tweeted the actress before she posted three different places to donate money to Black transgender people and a link to the UK's Black Pride page.
Stunning. Simple. Effective. As one commentor put it, "Did she- she she really cancelled j k rowling without even talking about her? That's such a Ravenclaw thing to do! Cho Chang would be proud!!"
The non-binary activist and performance artist Alok Vaid-Menon also pointed out that maybe Rowling's comments were actually exactly how she feels about the current state of the world. "Some are saying that she should have “read the room” and realized that this moment of global uprising is not the time. Actually—she did," wrote the artist, "This is her response: white backlash. Policing and fortifying gender/sex boundaries has always been a tactic of white supremacy."
Vaid-Menon explains that Western racists believed Black people, Indigenous people and people of colour were inferior to white people. "To differentiate themselves from BIPOC, they argued that only white people could achieve a binary distinction of sexes. Racialized people—especially Black people—were seen as inherently “hermaphroditic” and gender nonconforming, stuck in a primitive past." The post explains the ongoing effect of this kind of thinking and how it also hurts white transgender and non-binary people now.
Rowling's transphobia is absolutely awful, but the best thing to do if you're angry for your transgender friends and loved ones isn't to throw away your copy of The Deathly Hallows. Instead, we'd suggest donating to an organisation that supports transgender and queer youth, like Twenty10 or Minus18, calling Rowling the Karen she is, and moving on with your day.