And why I’ve created a new social media group as a place for queer, trans, non-binary and pretty much everyone else who is “othered” and tormented by the soul-sucking, climate-changing, greed-slurping dementors of the world we live in today…

dementor

Since 2016, when I started writing The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits, I knew that my characters would create a safe, vibrant place for people to learn and enjoy a new kind of magic–something that today I am calling MagicQ. In my second book (close to completion), my characters–including trans guy Oyster Olson, intersex woman Babe Bump, and non-binary Tomma Bedlam–are actively engaged in creating a new Hermitville Center for Arts and Magic as a place of refuge, inclusion, and empowerment for LGBTQIA+ people, and anyone facing violence and discrimination as a result of personal bigotry and systemic injustice.

Two days ago I learned about J.K. Rowling’s most recent transphobic statement on Twitter, in support of a woman who holds hateful beliefs about trans and otherwise gender diverse people, and who believes it is fine to discriminate against them. While I never thought of Rowling as someone who had great politics (I mean, she poured money into preventing Scottish independence, for gods sake…), I was startled and dismayed by her most recent public statement. I hadn’t been following Rowling’s transphobe trajectory but others have, as early as 2018 or before.

My kids (now adults) grew up on the Potter books–along with other, better works of childhood fiction. One of my kids is trans–and I will never forget how dismayed he was when he found out he was not going to Hogwartz when he turned eleven. However, he’s since claimed his place in the worlds of magic and witchery, and has even created a church for LGBTQIA+ people. To work for social change and justice is a magical, transformational act. This is the real thing, not make-believe.

Inspired by both my own kid’s action and the mission of my own characters, I’ve created The Guild of Ornamental Hermits group on Facebook, as a home for magicQ and its practitioners and allies. Since I am also a practicing witch, as well as a writer/blogger and sexologist dedicated to gender equality, as well as a mother–I can do no less and I also pledge to do more!

So, I say to J.K. (who also writes under a male name–go figure!!!) that in my world of magic and literature, she has now become “she who must not be named.” If she ever repudiates her current stance, and educates herself, and humbly serves as a fitting ally to LGBTQIA+ and other marginalized people, perhaps I’ll reconsider giving her a place on my bookshelf again. But til then I’m boycotting. I won’t be giving her books to any more young people.

#IStandWithTrans and I always have.

####

8 thoughts on “Why I’m Spelling MagicQ with a Q

  1. I didn’t keep the link to someone’s breakdown of JKR’s transphobic timeline, but I’m pretty sure I’ve seen trans women point out examples at least back to 2013, so this isn’t brand new and shocking news in some circles. While I definitely like seeing inclusive groups (such as your blog post here) and recs for trans author and/or character fiction elsewhere coming out of this incident, I’m not really confident that a boycott of her books is going to do much.

    Don’t get me wrong – you’re certainly free to do that if you want. It’s just that the main seven books* have already been out for years, the movies based on them have already come out, and it’s easy to find copies without purchasing them (ex. libraries). I can’t speak for every trans person in the HP fandom, but I would much rather see a reader taking a critical approach to the text than trying to cut off future readers from a series that’s made an undeniable cultural impact (and even shows up in certain Lit courses in college, the last I knew).

    Knowing JKR’s involvement with TERF Twitter changes the impact of certain details in the books – only girls being able to touch unicorns and cis perisex boys not being allowed up the stairs to the girls dormitory, even though the girls can enter the boys dormitory, immediately come to mind. Maybe I’ve been in the fandom long enough it’s easier to pick apart canon elements that showcase less than ideal beliefs of the author shining through and adapt/excise them, but I think it’d be more helpful to point out those weaknesses in the canon to a future reader than to try to avoid the series or pretend JKR didn’t write them.

    (* I have a vague memory of two annotated textbooks being written for a charity, but I’m not aware of many people talking about those. I personally view The Cursed Child as a monetized fanfic and don’t engage with it as canon, and I’m not familiar enough with The Fantastic Beasts portion of the franchise to know if it involves more examples of transphobia or transmisogyny. I have zero idea of what all is in the rpg ‘Hogwarts Mystery’, and I’m not aware of the theme park being involved in such critiques.)

    However, clearly, there’s still quite a bit more of the Harry Potter franchise that some people may not be comfortable financially investing in than just the main seven books, or they may have different standards for these other elements. I can imagine it would still be possible for someone to do a boycott of all HP stuff that could possibly benefit JKR, but at this point, I’m not holding my breath that it would cause a change.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much for reading and commenting. I agree, my tiny little decision to not buy Harry Potter books for children won’t do a darned thing. It’s just a personal decision. There are many other great authors of children’s books out there, and I’d buy and give those. I agree that for older readers (from older kids to academics and the general public), it’s good to exercise critical thinking, all in the interest of dismantling bigotry and cruel systems that perpetuate it to the disadvantage of others. Little kids get swept up in the magic, and absorb all kinds of ideas along the way. Another thing, I’m also concerned about Rowling’s influence and platform. But… there are certainly more repulsive people tweeting out there. And I don’t have to tell you who I mean. Again, thank you so much for reading and posting!

      Like

      1. I can understand the personal decision. Quite a few people I follow on tumblr have stopped contributing to JKR’s profit off the franchise during the 2010s, whether it’s getting fed up with the after-the-fact representation, heteronormativity (some reached a breaking point with The Cursed Child), whitewashing 1920s Harlem (The Fantastic Beasts), and representation that dropped the ball in The Crimes of Grindelwald (having never seen the movie, I’m not entirely clear on the details enough to elaborate here), years of JKR’s tweets, or something else I’ve forgotten at the time of writing. (JKR’s irreverence towards history when trying to flesh out the Wizarding world doesn’t work in her favor.)

        It’s more that seeing a tumblr post going around talking about a boycott and then coming to this post prompted some thoughts. It doesn’t bother me if people I follow decide to personally abstain from the HP franchise, but some of the (probably off the cuff, never intended to get traction) posts have come across like this is the moment where decent, trans supportive fans *have* to completely walk away, and I don’t think it has to be quite so black-and-white, especially when so much of the franchise already exists in relatively easy to access places.

        But thanks for the post and the GOH. ^_^

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Thanks for sharing that about Rowling. Who knew? But it does make us think about things we like and promote and why we never dig deeper into the issue or writer or anything. Laziness. I’m guilty. 7:35 AM, December 21, 2019, The Dire Deeds of the Guild of Ornamental Hermits <comment-reply@wordpress.com>:

    Amy Marsh, EdD, DHS, CH, CI posted: “And why I’ve created a new social media group as a place for queer, trans, non-binary and pretty much everyone else who is “othered” and tormented by the soul-sucking, climate-changing, greed-slurping dementors of the world we live in today…

    Since 20″

    Liked by 1 person

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