In 2007, J.K. Rowling had just released “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” the massively successful seventh and final installment of the Harry Potter series. Rowling had a fanbase of millions, growing royalties, and massive income from press tours throughout the United Kingdom. Yet over the course of the next seventeen years, Rowling undoubtedly became one of the most controversial and disliked authors in recent history.
During a fan event at Carnegie Hall, Rowling revealed that Dumbledore was gay, and had been in a relationship with another character from the series. Instead of the support for representation that she may have been expecting, Rowling began to receive pushback for this claim. The lack of reference to this relationship within the series and the absence of pre-existing LGBTQ+ representation in “Harry Potter” made Rowling’s last-minute claim seem like an afterthought for the sake of insincere inclusivity.
The public opinion towards Rowling only worsened once she voiced her opinions on the transgender community. It started in 2019 when Rowling voiced her support for British researcher Maya Forstater, who had recently been fired for making transphobic comments. The author was further put under fire when she posted several transphobic comments on Twitter, in which she exclusively defined women as people who menstruate. She continued to publicly express her views regarding gender, causing an abundance of backlash from the transgender community and allies. These comments led to actors of the “Harry Potter” series to publically voice their support of the transgender community, denouncing Rowling and her views.
In 2020, Rowling doubled down on her previous statements via the release of a lengthy essay, extensively covering her opinions on transgender people. In the essay, she stood behind her previous statements as well as her support of Maya Forstater. Rowling continued to make comments invalidating gender dysphoria, stating the inauthenticity of male-to-female-transitions without surgery, and alluding multiple times to the idea that male-to-female transitions are harmful to cisgender women. This piece of writing irreversibly solidified both Rowling’s views and the general public’s distaste towards her.
On top of her numerous transphobic stances, the author has also faced hate in recent years for things relating to the Harry Potter series itself. Rowling has been criticized for the lack of representation and racial stereotyping in the Harry Potter novels, such as the only prominent Asian character being named Cho Chang (a Korean surname combined with a Chinese surname). Activists like Jon Stewart (comedian and former host of “The Daily Show”) have also called out Rowling for her portrayal of the goblin bankers, claiming that they embody and perpetuate antisemitic undertones and stereotypes.
Rowling’s harmful words and actions have had many consequences. Her exclusionary views on the transgender community have been a major disappointment for many childhood fans of the Harry Potter novels. Nowadays, Rowling is brought up frequently when discussing the concept of separating the art from the artist. Many fans who have been hurt by her comments have chosen to stop supporting anything Harry Potter-related due to the royalties that she receives. Despite the success and wealth that Rowling sustains, she’ll never be able to regain the adoration of her fans to whom she provided the magical world of Harry Potter.