When J.K. Rowling was accused of transphobia about two years ago for ''liking'' a tweet that referred to transgender women as ''men in dresses,'' much of the Harry Potter fandom tried to give their beloved author the benefit of the doubt.

Perhaps, it really was just an accident, a ''clumsy and middle-aged moment,'' as Ms. Rowling's spokesperson said at the time.

Then people noticed that Ms. Rowling followed commentators on Twitter who described transgender women as men.

In December, she made her personal views more clear when she expressed enthusiastic support for a British researcher who filed a lawsuit against her former employer, claiming she had been discriminated against  for her ''gender critical'' views [i.e., her stance on the fixity of one's sex at birth].

''It felt like we were waiting for the other shoe to drop,'' said Melissa Anelli, a veteran leader in the Potter fandom who co-owns the website the Leaky Cauldron. Last week, it did.

First, Ms. Rowling took aim at an article that referred to ''people who menstruate,'' suggesting that it was wrong to not use ''women'' in a misguided attempt to include transgender people.

When she received a negative response to this, she then published a 3,700 word essay on gender, sex, abuse and fear :
''I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing a demonstrable harm in seeking to erode  ''woman'' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators.''

Across the Potter fandom, - the first book was published 23 years ago, making it one of the online's world most enduring fandoms - a conversation began.

Some discussions were tense, when fans who sympathized with Ms. Rowling's views, the discussion is on how to distance or separate themselves from the  author who created a fantasy world that animates their lives on a daily basis.


They listen to chapter-by-chapter podcasts, get tattoos with the Hogwarts crest or Deathly Hallow's symbol, and attend Potter conferences like LeakyCon, which draws thousands of fans every year. Some have even built their careers on their devotion.

Over recent days, some fans have said they decided to simply walk away from the world that spans seven books, eight movies and an ever-expanding franchise.

Others said that they were trying to separate the artist from the art, to remain in the fandom while denouncing someone who was once considered to be royalty.

''J.K. Rowling gave us Harry Potter; she gave us this world,'' said Renae McBrian, a young adult author who volunteers for the fan site MuggleNet. ''But we created the fandom, and we created the magic and community in that fandom. That is ours to keep.''

The essay was particularly gutting for fans who are transgender or nonbinary - that is, who do not identify as either male or female. Many of these had found solace in the world of ''Harry Potter'' and used to see the series as a way to escape anxiety.

The World Students Society thanks author Julia Jacobs.


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