CHERRY FALLS, RHODE ISLAND — Sheila Williams loves Harry Potter, and she loves the books in which he was created. Up until just a few months ago, Sheila loved author J.K. Rowling — the mind who created Potter and his wizarding world — she says “as much as [her] own mother” and she felt that somehow, Rowling felt the same way about her.
“For a long time, Potter fans felt like this giant community of people who loved those books and eventually the movies,” Sheila told us today. “It seemed like there were people out in the world who understand what the books were all about — love and acceptance and loyalty and destroying bigotry and preconceived notions. That was the whole deal with the muggle, half-blood, pure blood thing. At least, that’s what I thought.”
For years, Sheila says she’s identified with Harry and Hermione particularly. As a transgender woman, Sheila says she oftentimes could “feel like a half-blood in Voldemort’s timeline,” meaning that she felt persecuted simply for being herself. But in the Potter stories, she says she found refuge, and a story about throwing off the shackles of discrimination and embracing who you truly want to be.
“Potter was…breathtaking and cathartic for me to find,” Sheila told us. “It made me feel so great to identify with characters who, might not be transgender, but who in their own worlds are oppressed and made to feel like less-than by some who feel they are superior simply by their circumstances at birth. It’s not hard to see why so many in the LGBTQ+ community could identify with and love these books and the characters in them.”
Now, though, after watching Rowling become more and more an advocate of traditional, binary gender roles, Sheila says she’s not sure if she’s been understanding the Potter stories the right away all these years.
“I guess I just wish I had known earlier that she thinks someone like me is a Voldemort type,” Sheila said. “She must think I’m a Voldemort because she talks about trans women in such awful ways. She acts like we’re part of some nefarious cult. Like we’re doing anything to harm the larger cause of feminism by simply being who we are and how we identify, which again, I had thought for many years was the literal point of her books.”
Sheila says at this point she’s not sure what she’ll do with the books, movies, and merchandise from the Harry Potter franchise that she’s accumulated over the years. She says she couldn’t possibly calculate the number accurately, but that she’s likely spent over five thousand dollars, all told for it. She’d like to hold onto it, but she’s waiting to see if Rowling changes her views toward people like Sheila first.
“I would love to ignore the personal political views of J.K. Rowling and just love her stories and characters,” Sheila said. “But at the end of the day, won’t I always keep coming back to how she feels about people like me? Won’t it always come into my thoughts, somehow, that she doesn’t think I’m someone worthy of defending like Ron defended Harry and Hermione? At this point if she can just let me know how she feels about me, that would be great and would help me decide what to do with all the stuff.”
Writer/comedian James Schlarmann is the founder of The Political Garbage Chute and his work has been featured on The Huffington Post. You can follow James on Facebook, Spotify, and Instagram, but not Twitter because Twitter is a cesspool.