Turns out, there was something I hadn't discovered back then: My queer self. I was unable or unwilling to examine that queer self, the way Muggles either couldn't or didn't want to see Diagon Alley, hidden in plain sight. Once I had the language to describe myself, it was as if a new world revealed itself to me. Discovering the queer community and queer culture felt, to me, a lot like Harry felt walking into Diagon Alley for the first time: A riot of color and noise and wonder. Finally, a place I belonged. Finally, magic.
So you'll excuse me if it hurts personally, maybe a little too personally, that Rowling so casually mocks language that seeks to include me and other trans people. But I'm not shocked. This isn't the first time that Rowling has expressed views like this. As recently as December of 2019, she was tweeting support for Maya Forstater, a researcher who lost her job over "offensive and exclusionary" tweets in which she repeatedly misgendered a genderfluid person as "a part-time cross dresser" and stated that "men cannot change into women."
"Dress however you please," Rowling tweeted, "but force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya" This view, that biological sex—simply the way your body is built—makes you immutably one thing or the other and, therefore, trans women aren't "real" women, is a basic tenet of trans-exclusionary radical feminists, or TERFs. As trans people and issues have gained more visibility in recent years, so has the backlash.
In the same series of tweets, Rowling wrote, "I respect every trans person's right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I'd march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans."
If. This tiny, two-letter word has stuck in my brain. If.