Through her books, Ms. Rowling helped teach a generation the power of not just tolerance, but fierce acceptance and unconditional love. When Harry’s best friend Ron first learns that their professor Remus Lupin is a werewolf, he’s frightened and falls back on the stereotypes he’s been raised to understand, but over the years, he befriends Lupin and fights for him.
And through all the different spells and curses we learn of in the series, it turns out that the one magic power Harry needs to defeat Voldemort, in the end, is love.
I wonder now if I’ll be able to separate the author from the text, if and when I decide to read the books again — a decision I’ve yet to come to a conclusion on. It’s certainly not the first time I’ve had to consider this: It was disappointing to see the appropriation of Navajo culture in Ms. Rowling’s digital story collection, “History of Magic in North America” and the original books have been rightly criticized for promoting fatphobia, racial stereotyping and more.
Anytime she or the franchise’s decisions have sparked tension with my own ideologies, I think about what the real magic of Harry Potter is to me. It’s not the theme park in Orlando or trademarked merchandise, or even the deluge of information Ms. Rowling continues to release about the fictional universe on Pottermore. Those things have never been my favorite part of Harry Potter, though now I may avoid them more intentionally.
The real magic for me is what people have created around the books and the community we have built together.
I think of evenings spent in dark music venues in Brooklyn, screaming along with hundreds of other sweaty Harry Potter fans to songs inspired by the books. Taking inspiration from the series, bands with names like Harry and the Potters, Draco and the Malfoys and Tonks and the Aurors rage against supremacy and corrupt governments, and they preach the power of love above all else.
I think of a community that gave me a new home, my own kind of Hogwarts, after I came out as transgender — a community that continues to foster that same safe space for every queer or trans person who needs it, and which commits itself intentionally toward growth and learning in its inclusion.
J.K. Rowling’s latest opinions, as much as they might sting, can’t take that magic away from me. I can only hope she takes this opportunity to practice some of the same values she taught us and listens to trans fans of her books. Let us tell you about our lives, how we got here, and even how the world you created saved many of us. We’re ready to have a conversation if you are. Send us an owl.
Jackson Bird (@jackisnotabird) is a YouTube creator and the author of “Sorted: Growing Up, Coming Out, and Finding My Place.”
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