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Harry Potter Cannot Be Our "Always"

Few things are as certain in the world of pop culture as this: Harry Potter is a cultural touchstone. 

Seven books, 10 movies (with an eleventh on the way this April), two theme parks, a play, and a sprawling list of video games, lego or otherwise, make up the globally beloved franchise, all from the mind of one of the most polarizing women on the internet. 

Rowling is a transphobe, that much isn't up for debate. How much her transphobia affects her work and our enjoyment of her work most definitely is. Maybe you hate Rowling and what she stands for. But you read the books way before she logged into Twitter. You've been a fan since you were a kid. You bought the Gryffindor t-shirt you're wearing years ago. And she's not even in the reunion special. Her cut of profit from Universal Studios isn't that big. Besides, she's so rich that whatever money you make her is dust in comparison to the rest of her wealth. 

Which is true. The thing is, the money isn't the problem. 

Rowling is rich, obviously. But more importantly, she is relevant. It's not through her money but through her sheer influence that she exerts her transphobia. When Rowling speaks (or tweets), it is not because her house is a tourist destination or because she is one of the richest authors in the world that people listen to her. It is because she wrote the series that defined people's childhoods — it was her brain that brought to life characters that served as role models and sources of 

comfort for those of all ages. That is what gives her words weight. 

It's tempting to argue that Harry Potter belongs as much to its fans as it does to Rowling. The 25 years since the first book was published have given ample time for an expansive fandom to emerge, one that has a tight grip on the source material. For many, Harry Potter isn't a franchise, it's a part of their life. They put their Hogwarts house in their social media bios, get the Deathly Hallows symbol tattooed on their body, rewatch the movies religiously. To them, Harry Potter is personal. And if it's personal, JK Rowling has nothing to do with it. 

Of course, it's not like Harry Potter itself is free of Rowling's beliefs — subtle hints of transphobia along with clear racism and antisemitism line the pages. But even if it was, this belief — that Rowling can be divorced from her brainchild because it has grown beyond her — isn't realistic. Harry Potter can not be separated from Rowling, because it is the single driving force behind her power. Without it, she's just another transphobe. With it, she's making headlines and dousing fuel all over the trans-exclusionary radical feminism movement. 

JK Rowling only becomes powerless if Harry Potter becomes culturally irrelevant. And that might be as unrealistic as keeping the two separate, but it's also the only real way forward with any meaningful effect. Which means not playing Hogwarts Legacy, even if you find a way to pirate it; not contributing to the already boundless library of fan content; not giving Harry Potter any more of your time, energy, and most vitally, your attention. 

It's true, this article does betray its very message. The irony is not lost. But as the person behind this article, I do exceedingly hope this is the last time I have to speak about Harry Potter. I also hope that soon, it will be the last time I have to hear about it.

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