HBO Max shared that it would reunite the cast from all eight Harry Potter films for a special entitled Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return To Hogwarts. This retrospective is an honor to those who have been touched by the cultural phenomenon and still upheld the essence of the Wizarding World alive 20 years late. However, the noticeable absence of the creator of the series, JK Rowling from the reunion has caused much controversy.

The release of the special was said to feature Filmmaker Chris Columbus and actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – who have not made a public appearance together since the premiere of, Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows Part 2, in July 2011. But no mention of the author JK Rowling, who has been the main centre of controversy for her harmful and damaging opinions on transgender people.

 

[Video Description: Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts HBO Max Official Trailer.] via Youtube

Over the years Rowling has received much criticism for her views on transgender people. As someone who has been a fan of the enchanting film series over the years, I was quite disappointed to find out Rowling held alarming views on biological sex. It was in June 2020 when the author shared on Twitter an opinion pieced where she criticised an article for using the phrase “people who menstruate” including trans men, saying that it erases women. Rowling further spoke about biological sex by saying, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction”. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,” she added. She then continued to support a person convicted of being discriminatory towards trans people, further invalidating the experiences of trans people. These statements were not only harmful but show carelessness on Rowlings end.

After receiving much backlash, she later explained that she respects “every trans person’s rights to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them”. “I would march if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans,” she added. This was not the only controversy the author was involved in. In September 2020 she was called out for being transphobic after it was discovered that the villain in her latest book, Troubled Blood (written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith), is a male serial killer who dresses as a woman to slay his victims. The book’s moral seems to never trust a man in a dress’ – sparked immediate backlash online. In a 3600 word essay written by Rowling, she attempted to elaborate and clarify the comments she made about trans people. The Fantastic Beasts screenwriter went on to address why trans women were a threat to feminism and to other people.  “I want trans women to be safe.  At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of the bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside,” she wrote in the essay.

In the wake of these statements actors Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliff and Eddie Redmayne, who stars in her Harry Potter film series disapproved of the author for her views. Actor Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley acknowledged that he felt he needed to speak up for transgender people following Rowling’s remarks. In an interview with Esquire, he stated “I am hugely grateful for everything that she’s done. I think that she’s extremely talented, and I mean, clearly, her works are genius”. He went on to say, “But yeah, I think also you can have huge respect for someone and still disagree with things like that”.

Daniel Radcliffe also shared his opinion on the author remarks by saying, “Transgender women are women. 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”.

Rowling’s exclusion from the filmed reunion is likely to be because of her beliefs on biological sex, that women are something more than a feeling. Her remarks of refusing to “bow down” to a movement that she believes to be doing “demonstrable harm in seeking to erode woman as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it”.

We are all entitled to our own opinions and what we choose to stan by but, it is important to be responsible and take careful consideration in what we choose to support. Other authors such as Gillian Philip, who has publically vouched for Rowling, was fired by her employer for standing up for Rowling on social media as she tweeted #IStandWithJKRowling.

As a result of the harmful comments made by the author, the special will only show Rowling in archival recordings taken from the first movie but will not make a new appearance in the special. Rowling’s and her representatives have not given any statements and have said they will not be giving any. The events that have led up to the decision of excluding Rowling reflect more on who she is and the harmful beliefs that she carries.

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  • Esihle Faltein is a Journalism and Media Studies Honours graduate, who is a lively and passionate writer, and has an appreciation for art, storytelling and photography. She believes in the power of spreading knowledge and awareness to others, through her writing. Esihle's pursuit is to share narratives African both on local and international platforms. When she is not engrossed in this goal, she enjoys attending art galleries, painting and listening to podcasts.

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