The Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle has removed all references to J.K. Rowling, creator of Harry Potter, erasing her name from both their Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame and their Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic exhibition.
In May of this year, a museum employee who identifies as transgender wrote a lengthy blog post in which they accused Rowling of having “transphobic viewpoints” that are “super hateful and divisive.” The post, which appeared on the museum’s blog, was entitled “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named: There’s a certain cold, heartless, joy-sucking entity in the world of Harry Potter and, this time, it is not actually a Dementor.”
The museum confirmed they have decided to remove all references to Rowling, saying they “root themselves in empathy, collaboration, and empowerment” and are “looking to create opportunities for underrepresented voices in the arts and culture sector.” They clearly are not living out this mission by erasing a female writer who broke through in the male-dominated fantasy genre. That’s a true story of empowerment that they are refusing to tell.
The cancelation of J.K. Rowling has been quite the spectacle. Fervent “Harry Potter” fans initially praised her for celebrating the fact that each person is unique. They were delighted that, through her characters, she showed that there are things that unite us all, despite those differences.
But in 2019, people started to question Rowling’s commitment to LGBTQ+ rights, when she asserted it was wrong to “force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real” in a tweet that also affirmed her support of the LGBTQ+ community. Immediately, Rowling’s comments were branded as “transphobic.”
That charge would be leveled against her again in 2020 when Rowling questioned the term “people who menstruate”—suggesting that “women” would suffice. After the backlash, she refused to back down, tweeting “The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense.”
“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” her Twitter thread continued. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.
Since then, Rowling has spoken out against hormone therapy for children, expressed concern that the number of people detransitioning hints not enough care is taken to ensure transition is the right choice to begin with, and suggested it was Orwellian for police to record rapes as being committed by women if the attacker identified as such. She has also spoken out against politicians who “can no longer be counted on to defend women’s rights.”
For this, she is being erased from an exhibit featuring her own incredible creation—for saying she supports adults living as they want to live, but that biology cannot be denied. It cannot be easy to face such visceral hatred for stating that reality exists, but she continues to stand firm.