J.K. Rowling’s Fans Imagine Harry Potter World Without Her


The essay was particularly gutting for transgender and nonbinary fans, many of whom found solace in the world of “Harry Potter” and used to see the series as a way to escape anxiety.

Rori Porter, a writer and digital designer who started the books about two decades ago, at age 10, had been listening to the audiobooks as a way to relax and fall asleep — until the Rowling controversy bubbled up in December. Ms. Porter, who is a transfeminine woman, which, to her experience, means she was assigned male at birth but identifies with a feminine gender, stopped listening in the middle of “Prisoner of Azkaban” and has not started again. The series no longer felt grounding and nostalgic, but stress inducing.

Ms. Porter said she needs a break from the series (and doesn’t plan on giving Ms. Rowling a cent ever again), but she thinks she may revisit the audiobooks one day. “I don’t want to give J.K. Rowling the satisfaction of taking away from me something that I loved as a kid,” she said.

For Talia Franks, who is nonbinary and works with an activist group called the Harry Potter Alliance, Ms. Rowling’s comments were disturbing and demoralizing. But they said that they won’t have a problem continuing to write their fan fiction (where queer characters abound), attend Wizard Rock concerts and participate in the online Black Girls Create community, where they often discuss “Harry Potter.”

“I don’t need J.K. Rowling at all,” Mx. Franks said.

Fan organizations that serve as repositories of niche news, providing updates on plans for the “Fantastic Beasts” film series and regional Quidditch award results, are now searching for ways to affirm to transgender and nonbinary fans that they are welcome in those communities. Fandom leaders are teaming up to present a unified statement condemning Ms. Rowling’s comments, said Kat Miller, MuggleNet’s creative director.

It helped boost morale when a series of Harry Potter actors spoke out to affirm transgender identities, including Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry; Emma Watson, who played Hermione; Rupert Grint, who played Ron; and Katie Leung, who played Cho. (Ms. Rowling has also received a recent bout of criticism for the character Cho Chang, whose name is as weak as her characterization.)

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