Harry Potter and the Scorn of the TERF
Beloved author J.K. Rowling learned that many people across the globe don’t agree with her opinions on transgender rights movement. Although we’ve embraced Harry Potter with open arms, we slammed the door closed on Rowling’s transphobia. Her transphobia didn’t suddenly appear. Throughout the years, she’s made small remarks about her transphobia. However, during Pride Month, Rowling showed the world her true feelings about transactivism. When I asked one of my friends if she’d seen Rowling’s Tweets, she asked if Rowling had been hacked. After telling her no, my friend told me that people should quietly educate themselves instead of openly showing their ignorance. I couldn’t agree more!
I first gave Rowling the benefit of the doubt. Like Luna Lovegood, Evanna Lynch, urged her fans, I chose not to hate on Rowling or “cancel her.” Many stars associated with the Potter franchise came out against Rowling’s statements but didn’t villainize her. This refreshing approach made me believe that she would come around. However, instead of apologizing or educating herself, Rowling released an essay defending her statements. After I read it, I concluded that Rowling suffers from “cis gender fragility.” (I’ve might have made up this term, but it’s a pretty good way to describe her transphobia.)
Honestly, reading her “defenses” was not easy. I had to take several breaks and scream into a void at least 12 times to get through the experience of reading her worst writing. While she disguises her transphobia with fancy words and “kind urges,” Rowling encouraged the invalidation of trans identities with false data and fearmongering.
Throughout her essay, Rowling claimed to be an ally to the trans community but actively insulted them when defending her allyship. The data she relies on has been debunked and proven bias as written about by Forbes. Furthermore, Rowling encourages trans people to prove her wrong. Simply put, she wants them to validate their existence rather than her accepting their existence. Moreover, Rowling believes trans-rights impose on her rights. She’s fallen for the false analogy of human rights being a pie where everyone wants a piece which means less pie for you. However, human rights are not a pie. (They’re individual cupcakes! Everyone gets a cupcake and the government shouldn’t take yours away. I might need a better food analogy. Please contact me if you have a better one. Fuck, I need a cupcake to make me feel better.)
As Rowling defended herself from claims of being a bigot, I wondered how an educated and worldly woman could think horribly of transgender people. But, my question was answered when she opened up about surviving domestic abuse. Throughout her essay, Rowling stated that her past justifies why transgender people may not use bathrooms or shouldn’t be allowed to change their sex on their birth certificate without proof of surgery. However, this false connection between domestic abuse and transitioning only causes more harm. Of course, no woman should have to endure abuse. But, thinking a man only pretends to be a woman to assault other women is sheer madness. (No sign saying, “women only,” will stop a man from being heinous.)
Additionally, Rowling claimed that transitioning was trendy hence people changed their gender identity like they change their style. She claimed she understood the “allure of becoming a man.” However, that is not why people transition. Very simply put, people transition because they don’t identify with their biological sex assigned to them. While claiming to be an ally and not a bigot, Rowling only showed prejudiced with her ignorance.
Since Rowling’s outburst, many stars from the Harry Potter films stood by the trans gender community. However, Daniel Radcliffe‘s statement was applauded by many. Throughout his career, Radcliffe works with The Trevor Project, an organization dedicated to suicide prevention for the LGBTQI+ community. Also, the project trains people to be allies. In Radcliffe’s statement, he wrote that neither Rowling nor he are experts when it came to transgender rights. However, he knew many who were and could better guide people. He shared a guide on how to be an ally and the proper terms to be used. From tiny mistakes to intentional discrimination, the Trevor Project showcased all the ways we could be better.
Radcliffe didn’t attack Rowling nor encourage people to do so. Rather, he presented information to help us be better. It’s clear that Rowling wrote her essay because she felt personally attacked. She opened up about the trolls and death threats she received. Also, she revealed that transactivism made her relive her trauma of domestic abuse. But, the term “TERF” caused Rowling the most pain. TERF is an acronym for a trans-exclusionary radical feminist. According to Sarah McBride, TERF views deny the validity of trans gender people and transgender identities. Simply put, TERFs cannot acknowledge that an individual’s gender identity may not align with the sex assigned to them at birth. With this narrow limitation on the definition of sex, these views have public health consequences for the transgender population and individuals born with differences in sexual differentiation or intersex traits. In a nutshell, TERFs don’t see transgender women as women therefore they are not sisters in arms when dealing with gender discrimination.
After reading Rowling’s essay, it didn’t surprise me that many women feel the same way as her. They cannot look past a person’s biological sex because they believe sex determines gender. With the inability to process this information, women end up hating on other women which only benefits the patriarchy. Rowling’s reaction to the trans gender movement shows she doesn’t understand the movement itself nor chooses to. And, with people calling her out on it, she reacted defensively and revealed her fragility. As a cis gender woman, I have the privilege to not think about the relationship between my sex and gender (or lack of correlation between the two). But, educating myself on the transgender rights movement demonstrated that trans women are women. I should not feel threatened nor terrified when they identify as feminists and advocate for basic human rights. They’re not taking my rights away from me or being my saviors. They certainly aren’t pretending so they can harm me later.
Rowling’s behavior showcased cis gender fragility that resides in many. Instead of seeing the intersectionality of race and sexuality with gender, Rowling chose to defend her ignorance. Unfortunately, she is an educated woman with a strong influence. (I know shedding ignorance and prejudice cemented in us is a difficult challenge, but we come out better and stronger when we do shed.) When someone with influence relies on her fragility or ignorance to educate her followers, another roadblock stands in the way of justice.
That’s all for now. Stay tuned for more of 2020’s bullshit.