I don't remember how old I was when I first read Harry Potter.
One day, it's like this boy wizard magically appeared, with his scar on his forehead, ready to go on a new, thrilling, often terrifying adventure. Like most people of my generation, I grew up with this unexpected and often reluctant hero, and I avidly followed his journey as he grew into his own power and continued to fight against the forces of pure evil, his loyal friends forever at his side. Those books taught me to reject oppressive systemic institutions even if they seem "normal", to stand my ground against bigotry, to fight for those most vulnerable. Those books taught me about light and love and the importance of found families. Those books taught me, and others like me, that there is always hope, no matter how dark the world might seem.
While I didn't yet have the language to understand and describe the internal turmoil I was experiencing as a child, as a teenager, and throughout the first few years of my young adulthood, until the realization as a mid-20-something that I am queer and later, I am nonbinary, those books kept me company. They were comforting. They were home.
Discovering J.K. Rowling, the author of these beloved books, is blatantly transphobic, feels like the ultimate betrayal. Knowing that the books that kept me going through times of uncertainty were created by a person who actively does not think I exist hurts. A person who openly mocks inclusive language. Whose Twitter rants invalidate my very existence, and whose harmful rhetoric adds to a dangerous, and often deadly, conversation of how "trans women are not real women." But like Harry Potter said himself: trans women are women.
In case you don't know what I'm talking about, J.K. Rowling recently went on yet another transphobic Twitter rant, further ruining her legacy with hate speech. This comes at a particularly insulting time, as it is Pride Month, and we wouldn't even have Pride Month without the Stonewall Riots, in which black and brown trans folx led the fight against police brutality towards the LGBTQ community. Does this sound familiar? In the middle of what is being referred to as the largest Civil Rights movement in history, JKR just had to go and let everyone know what an awful person she truly is, deep down. She's being likened to Dolores Umbridge. Now that's bad.
(Then again, this is the same author who revealed in Hogwarts lore that wizards just, kind of, pooped themselves? Which does make me feel better, somewhat, as her asinine opinions have always reeked.)
Knowing that my childhood hero - the person who created a world I happily lived in for large chunks of my life - has failed me, and many like me, is immensely painful. However, a friend of mine put it perfectly: J.K. Rowling played herself. She taught entire generations how to fight against injustice, and here we are now, actively fighting against her own intolerance. We grew up reading Harry Potter, so we know better.
"There’s something powerful, and maybe a little ironic, in the fact that J. K. Rowling inspired me and so many other transgender and nonbinary people to become authors. I’m excited for the day that hundreds of thousands of our voices and our words will drown out her hateful speech with our stories of connection, validation, joy, and love. There’s power in the fact that we are writing the stories we deserve."
With that in mind, here are a few fantasy novels written by trans and nonbinary authors you can feel proud to support:
-Kimberly Lopez is a Readers' Services Assistant at Lawrence Public Library.