Harry Potter and The Rehabilitation of Rowling

With the launch of a new Hogwarts video game comes a concerted effort to erase J.K. Rowling’s transphobia and protect her profitable image

Christopher Keelty

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A Twitter exchange between JK Rowling and conservative bigot Matt Walsh, in which Rowling praises his transphobic propaganda film, “What is a Woman?”

A few days ago, a new Harry Potter video game hit the market, and purely by coincidence today we got an “Opinion” piece in the New York Times by Pamela Paul, “In Defense of J.K. Rowling.” It points readers to the new podcast, “The Witch Trials of J.K Rowling,” which also works to rehabilitate the author’s tarnished reputation following her years of transphobic activism and public comment.

It is insanely frustrating that the New York Times uses the label “Opinion” to publish outright falsehood and propaganda. “Nothing Rowling has said qualifies as transphobic,” writes Paul. She quotes a journalist, E.J. Rosetta, who claims she was commissioned to write an article compiling 20 transphobic J.K Rowling quotes, and after “12 weeks of reporting and reading simply “could not find a single truly transphobic message.”

This depends, I suppose, on how you define “transphobic.” Most reasonable people would find it per se transphobic that Rowling consistently refers to trans women as “men.” But it’s true that her transphobia has less often been expressed in her own words, and more often in her actions and in her celebration and amplification of other people’s transphobic words.

Pell, in her defense, does cite Rowling’s defense of Magdalen Berns. Rowling also spoke out to defend and align with Caroline Farrow, and with Macy Gray — and then with conservative commentator and professional bigot Matt Walsh after Gray walked back her own comments.

Pell doesn’t mention how Rowling praised Walsh’s film “What is a Woman?,” as pure a piece of conservative transphobic (and homophobic) propaganda as one would expect from Matt “17-year-old-girls-are-the-most-fertile” Walsh.

“Your film did a good job exposing the incoherence of gender identity theory and some of the harms its done,” Rowling tweeted to Walsh. I guess that doesn’t qualify as a transphobic quote in the minds of E.J. Rosetta or Pamela Paul.

Matt Walsh has often referred to physicians who provide gender affirming care as…

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Christopher Keelty

Writer, cartoonist, and nonprofit pro. I have too many interests, but let’s focus on culture & politics. Bisexual, cis. He/him, please. | Twitter: @keeltyc.