J.K. Rowling removed from museum’s Harry Potter displays over transphobic views

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The Museum of Pop Culture (Mopop) in Seattle has scrubbed its Harry Potter exhibits of all mention of the author of the books, J.K. Rowling, due to her transphobic views.

The decision was made several months ago, but only came to widespread attention last week, when a London-based journalist contacted Mopop about a 26 May blog post on the museum’s website, titled “She-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named“, which recounts some of the author’s public comments in recent years and ends by stating that her name has been removed from Harry Potter displays in the exhibition ​​Fantasy: Worlds of Myth and Magic and related artefacts taken out of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame.

The blog post’s writer, a transgender employee at the museum and self-described “Harry Potter ex-fanatic”, calls Rowling a “cold, heartless, joy-sucking entity” and her views “super hateful and divisive”. “We learned that You-Know-Who was a problem, which is why you’ll see the artefacts without any mention or image of the author,” the blog post reads, adding that Rowling’s name remains in the museum’s Science Fiction and Fantasy Hall of Fame, as she “was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2018 before she became the face of trans-exclusionary radical feminism … For the time being, the curators decided to remove any of her artefacts from this gallery to reduce her impact. It’s not a perfect solution, but it’s what we were able to do in the short-term while determining long-term practices.”

An 8 August message from Mopop’s new chief executive, Michele Y. Smith (who started in March), confirmed the decision, reiterating that “all views stated by Mopop are vetted and delivered directly by the organisation”.

Rowling first started publicly voicing her problematic views on gender identity in 2018 and has been increasingly doubling down on them ever since, all the while claiming to “love trans people”. This has caused many Harry Potter fans, including stars of the film series, to try to distance the author from the beloved world she created.

The Mopop post notes that despite Rowling’s association with Harry Potter, the museum will keep items related to the movies on view: “While the Harry Potter series is a major player in the pop culture sphere, we wanted to give credit to the work of the actors, prop makers and costume designers in our Fantasy gallery.”

Mopop’s decision comes at a time when trans rights have become particularly politicised in the US. “Currently, there are over 400 bills in 43 separate states (as of writing) that would restrict or ban gender affirming healthcare or rights for transgender youth and adults,” the blog post notes. “These bills affect the health and wellness of transgender individuals throughout our country, not just the state where it is occurring. We’re left concerned for our transgender siblings and wondering if or when our own existence will be outlawed.”

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