It all started with Albus Dumbledore.
The wise old man archetype of the Harry Potter series, according to J.K. Rowling, was always homosexual, a trait that (understandably) never appeared in her books; the pupils of Hogwarts weren’t exactly clamoring for details about their headmaster’s sex life.
Subtle hints did exist, enough for a fan to ask the question, and receive official confirmation. The news wasn’t exactly great LGBT representation, but merely an extra detail that fans were interested to hear.
And when Noma Dumezweni, a black actress, was cast as Hermione Granger in stage play The Cursed Child, J.K. Rowling gave her enthusiastic approval, confirming that, of course, Hermione doesn’t need to be white.
Or at least, I believe that’s what she meant; her official response was worded in a way that appears to claim Hermione was never intended to be white, which came across as a slightly smug attempt for woke brownie points.
The internet reaction was as childish as one would expect; readers with far, far too much time on their hands frantically re-read the entire series of books, searching for hard evidence that Hermione was canonically Caucasian. It’s pretty obvious that she was conceived as such (she appears so on the original cover of The Deathly Hallows), but … it doesn’t matter. The casting didn’t require a justification – Hermione’s story or character are not affected by her skin tone.
That incident, and a few other details that Rowling has revealed over the years, have led to the perception that Rowling was attempting to diversify Hogwarts, post-Harry Potter, seeking credit for representation that wasn’t explicitly mentioned.
While I think this is slightly unfair, it did lead to some hilarious memes. And to be frank, she brought the mockery on herself when she revealed that adult wizards used to regularly poop their pants, then “vanished the evidence.” That’s not exactly Tolkien-esque world-building.
But recently, Rowling has come under fire for something much more unpleasant than fiddling with the details of her wizarding world: trans-exclusionary feminism.
Now, to be clear, Rowling has never actually said, or even tweeted anything remotely derogatory against the trans community; the assumption arises from the transphobic tweets she has “liked” and the number of aggressively transphobic accounts she follows.