How the star of the Harry Potter films helped our trans social media manager overcome that blog post.
I’m sitting on my Slytherin bed sheets feeling gutted.
This isn’t the first time I’ve experienced what feels to me like transphobia. It’s not the first time someone’s let me down by saying things that seem to deny who I am, and it certainly won’t be the last time I’m hurt by someone I thought was my friend.
I’m Jake and I’m a non-binary muggle. I came to terms with my identity when I was 17, at a time when toxic trans ‘debates’ were just coming to the surface. Reading the newspaper articles and seeing my identity being debated by strangers on TV was hurtful and frightening.
I needed an escape so, along with so many other trans kids, I climbed aboard the Hogwarts Express.
Harry Potter has always been a big part of my life. I remember my older brother sitting on the edge of my bed reading The Philosophers Stone to me. I remember the frantic excitement I felt whenever a new film came out. I remember making t-shirts and crying on the steps of the cinema when it was all over. This world shaped mine.
I first read fanfiction when I was 13. Back then, parents didn’t really understand what the internet was, and my mum didn’t understand why I thought Draco Malfoy and Harry Potter should be in love.
It was confusing to me too. Why would a ‘girl’ like me want to read about boys in love? It took me another 4 years to understand that I was a boy who also loved boys. Then I stumbled across a whole section of fanfiction stories where Remus Lupin – the werewolf who transforms and has body image issues – was transgender. It just made sense! I realised that any character could be queer if I wanted them to be.
In my head, Sirius Black became this flamboyant, dramatic, gorgeous genderqueer person and reflected everything I wanted to be. Sirius helped me come to terms with the fact that I was non-binary, because that’s what I, and other trans people, desperately needed: the comfort of escaping to a magical castle in Scotland, filled with spells, potions, and queer people who understood why I felt different.
Then when I had top surgery, the happiest day of my life, I brought my Remus and Sirius figures with me to sit on my bedside table. I looked at them with love, knowing in my heart that they represented who I was. They gave me courage.
To me, Harry Potter meant that no matter who you are or how you were born or how different or difficult your life was, if you fought against oppression with love, you would win.
At 24 I’m realising that might not be true. And wow, it hurts.
So, yeah, I’m sitting on my Slytherin bed sheets feeling gutted, because, even though I respect her right to express what she thinks, I can’t help but feel like Dumbledore has turned out to be a bit of a dementor, drawing my self-confidence and happiness out of me. Surely there are better, less damaging ways to achieve what she wants to achieve, without causing so much pain to people who loved and needed her.
My once-favourite author seems to want to protect a certain part of society at the cost of the rights of others. When has this ever been the way in Harry Potter? Voldemort fought out of fear and hate, but Harry Potter and Hogwarts fought back to protect their right to be open and diverse. They knew there was enough magic to go around, that everyone had the right to explore that and be safe.
I take comfort in knowing that JK Rowling would likely be absolutely gobsmacked that every queer Harry Potter fan I’ve ever met believes beyond a shadow of a doubt that at least one character is completely and utterly queer – and in most cases, trans. And no, I’m not talking about Dumbledore.
The only other comfort I have right now is the cast. The people who brought Harry Potter to life. Hermione, Harry and many other cast members believe in standing up for trans young people.
I cried when I read Daniel Radcliffe’s statement. I cried because I could hear it in Harry’s voice. I cried because a real person with a platform and equal love for the books that changed my life, still supports me. Characters like Harry, Hermione, Luna and Newt always stood out in my head as people who would support trans rights, and seeing their real life counterparts being vocal only confirms that to me. Percy Weasley, however? Never my favourite as he was a bit rude, but seeing him stand up for trans rights? I must say I laughed, completely overjoyed to have another person join the Light.
To Emma, Daniel, Eddie, Evanna, Chris, and the rest of the cast who are coming forward, you are keeping the magic alive. JK Rowling can stomp on my Harry Potter glasses, but you’ve all cast the reparo. Because of you, I refuse to gather up my hoard of Harry Potter merchandise, I refuse to stop reading fanfiction, and I absolutely refuse to allow something so wonderful to be ruined by someone who doesn’t get me.
To JK Rowling, I cannot give you my love anymore, while you continue what feels to me like a campaign against me and people like me. I am so sorry you suffered abuse and I sympathise with the struggle you went through and the pain that must have left in your heart. I also understand that you fear abusive men and wish to keep women safe. Please, help to keep trans and non-binary people safe too.