Major fan communities will be approaching their coverage of the author differently moving forward.

By James Hibberd
July 02, 2020 at 03:47 PM EDT
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Two of the biggest Harry Potter fan communities have united to release an open letter criticizing saga creator J.K. Rowling and announcing changes to how they will cover the author in the future.

In an unusual move, MuggleNet and the Leaky Cauldron posted similar joint statements about the fantasy author's controversial stance on transgender issues.

"As this fandom enters its third decade, J.K. Rowling has chosen this time to loudly pronounce harmful and disproven beliefs about what it means to be a transgender person," reads the statement. "In addition to the distaste we feel for her choice to publish these statements during Pride Month—as well as during a global reckoning on racial injustice—we find the use of her influence and privilege to target marginalized people to be out of step with the message of acceptance and empowerment we find in her books and celebrated by the Harry Potter community. Although it is difficult to speak out against someone whose work we have so long admired, it would be wrong not to use our platforms to counteract the harm she has caused. Our stance is firm: Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Intersex people exist and should not be forced to live in the binary. We stand with Harry Potter fans in these communities, and while we don’t condone the mistreatment JKR has received for airing her opinions about transgender people, we must reject her beliefs."

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The sites also announced they would refer to the author as #JKR on Twitter so fans can mute the hashtag and avoid seeing posts about Rowling from now on. The sites will also no longer cover aspects of Rowling's personal life, such as the author winning awards, her charitable donations, or her tweets unrelated to the franchise, as well as "her political commentary or opinions." The sites will also no longer host purchase links to Rowling's work beyond the Wizarding World or cover her other content. Rowling's name has likewise been removed from the sites' navigation menus. MuggleNet also noted they will no longer host "fan art, memes, photos, or other images with J.K. Rowling’s likeness."

Many members of the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts franchise casts have also issued statements disagreeing with Rowling, including stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne. "Transgender women are women," Radcliffe wrote. "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I."

In June, Rowling posted a 3,800-word essay doubling down on her feelings regarding trans issues and saying she has been the victim of online abuse by activists. "I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it," Rowling wrote. "I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single-sex spaces ...All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse."

GLAAD issued a statement in reaction noting, "Rowling's beliefs are not based in fact or science, as trans advocate Brynn Tannehill outlines in her Medium article addressing 'the inaccuracies, omissions, and logical errors' in the author's essay. When Rowling chose to make her anti-trans bigotry public, during Pride Month and the current cultural reckoning with racial injustice, LGBTQ fans and their allies spoke up loudly to share their disappointment and hurt, as the two-decade-old Harry Potter series has created a diverse fanbase where many people have found community, acceptance, and a platform for advocacy."

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