An open letter to J.K. Rowling

Subject: An open letter to J.K. Rowling
From: Claire Nauman
Date: 4 Jun 2021

To J.K. Rowling,

Harry Potter was a very influential book in my childhood. Something about being whisked off from a terrible situation into a haven of magic and learning was marvelous to me in elementary and middle school. I felt so connected to the story and characters- I remember being able to sit down and blow through a 500-page book in one day, just because Harry Potter was so amazing. With my 12th-grade reading level in elementary school, Hermione was one of the most inspiring characters for me- Headstrong, smart, and unapologetically good at school. I wanted nothing more than to get a letter on my birthday that read: “you’re secretly a witch, come to Hogwarts”.

But between my treasured childhood book series and supporting my friends, I chose my friends, completely.

Ever since your tirades against transgender people began, I’ve sworn off of Harry Potter entirely. I get irritated looking at all of my old Harry Potter merch; T-shirts, snowglobes, box sets, you name it. I packed it away and stuck it in a closet, and have no regrets. There was no ethical dilemma for me- If you can’t be kind, then I can’t support you.

One of my best friends came out as trans right around the time you began being openly transphobic in 2018. In a tweet, you wrote, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”. My friend, newly a man, menstruated too. I didn’t understand how you could just say that kind of thing and not understand that it was wrong- not only morally, but factually too. So I put away the books. I stopped liking Harry Potter memes on Instagram. And as I distanced myself from your series, I saw how truly problematic some of your characters were. Kingsley Shacklebolt, the only black character, and Cho Chang, the only Asian character, were both unfortunately named and very stereotypical. Goblins that controlled the banks. House-elves that loved being enslaved. And who could forget, Rita Skeeter, a “mannish” woman who spied on girls to get gossip.

You wrote a series that inspired me. A story about friendship, magic, and adventure. But more importantly, you were hateful. You can’t accept that the world is changing and words are taking on different meanings. That now some men have periods and some women don’t. You are obsessed with what is in people’s pants, not who they are, and for that, I’m leaving Harry Potter behind.

Claire Nauman
Cal Poly San Luis Obispo