“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”
When I saw this tweet from J. K. Rowling, I read the first few lines and thought, well isn’t that lovely? I am living my best life! Thanks Jo! Then I got to the end and thought, what does living my best life have to do with sex being real? Wait, what is this all about? I clicked on the hashtags IStandWithMaya and found myself in a cesspit of hate that brought me further and further down into some dark corners of the internet.
As most of you know now, Maya Forstarter is a woman who believes that while trans people can express their gender identity, their gender does not change. That while they are able to live as themselves, the truth of their gender cannot change, regardless of what they have been through. She believes this to be impossible. Forstarter was fired for her views and took the employer to court. The court ruled against Forstarter.
This prompted the tweet by J. K. Rowling. When I found myself in that dark tunnel of hate against trans people, I found this really hard to process, mostly because of what J. K. Rowling has created and what it means to me.
I wasn’t lucky enough to grow up reading the Harry Potter books. They came to me later in life, in my early twenties. When I did read the books, I was transported to another world entirely. A world in which magic existed, magical creatures thrived, and spell work was commonplace.
The Harry Potter books have gotten me through a lot: a loveless and abusive marriage and abusive relationships, depression, a devastating medical diagnosis. They saw me through a period where I had to learn to do simple tasks like walking and caring for myself again. The entire time, Harry and company was there with me.
I turn to the Harry Potter books when I want joy, when I can’t find anything else to read, when I want to combat my depression. The world that J. K. Rowling created is so vast and I have lived within it for so long. I have read the books more times than I can count. I read the series once a year and listen to the audiobooks as well. I have three Harry Potter related tattoos: his scar is on my right wrist, the Deathly Hallows is on my left wrist and I have my Patronus on my left calf. I carry the magic with me always.
It was also a world where everyone was welcome, where everyone had a place. Rowling had created a place that was inclusive to everyone. Dumbledore was even revealed to be gay when the final book had come out. To say I felt at home in the Wizarding World is an understatement. In the Wizarding World, you were not defined by your scars and you could rise above them and accomplish anything.
Which is why when Rowling posted that Tweet, a part of me shattered.
While I was trying to make sense of how I felt about this, I was also trying to find my way through the pieces of me that had broken away. I think what had me felling so shattered was the fact that Rowling had created a world where everyone was accepted, I felt so at home. To think that there were people that weren’t welcome in the Wizarding World was astounding.
One of my friends said it the best. She told me that we had made Rowling into an idol of sorts, into a woman that had created magic that fuelled our lives. In the end though, she was only that: a mortal woman. She was not some kind of idol. Yes, she had created a world that filled our minds, hearts and imaginations, but she was only a woman.
My husband pointed out something else: J. K. Rowling is entitled to believe what she wants to. She is also entitled to free speech and her own beliefs, even if we disagree with them and find her beliefs abhorrent.
With those two pieces of advice, I was able to gather the broken pieces of myself and hug them close again. I knew what I had to do to move forward: I had to separate the author from their words.
I don’t agree with what Maya Forstarter says. I know that trans people have gone through hell and back to live as their true selves. I also know that gender is fluid and can change. I am more than just male. We are all male and female in thought, character, self and spirit.
If someone finds the strength to live as their true selves, they should be applauded. I took offense with J. K. Rowling’s Tweet because sex isn’t real; we are not just our gender. We are so much more than that. What Forstarter and Rowling have essentially done is to turn the clock back and erase all the progress that we have made.
On the other hand, the world that Rowling has created has taken on a life of its own. Yes, Rowling is the creator, but in this world people who are different and do not fit the norm triumph. They are the heroes. They are the victors. Though they have been marked for death, they overcome their obstacles.
We can’t discount the fact that Rowling made that kind of world where that kind of courage exists. She created a world where we are more than just the scars that mark us, we are also the spirit within us. The scars are merely part of our journeys.
Rather than walk away from Harry Potter, I am choosing to separate the creator from the work. The world of Harry Potter has gone beyond what J. K. Rowling has created. It has almost become a world that lives and breathes on its own. The Wizarding World is a large part of my spirit and my life. The world lives beyond her and what she stands for.
Though J. K. Rowling is entitled to her own thoughts and beliefs, I don’t agree with them. Much like the shattered feeling I experienced when I finally realized what her tweet meant and what she believed, I am choosing to shatter the connection between Rowling and the Wizarding World within myself.
It is the only way that I can move forward and the only way that I can find peace. If I constantly wonder at her thoughts and motivations, I won’t ever be able to enjoy Harry Potter again. I choose instead to believe in the world that she created, a world where the downtrodden are the champions, where kindness and love are true magic more powerful than anything else. Where a boy realizes that his world is larger than he ever thought possible. That is what I’m choosing to believe.
Instead of dying out, the magic has survived within me. With love in our hearts, we can create true magic and the world will continue to sparkle on.