Trans Inclusive Alternatives to Harry Potter
For queer readers, trans and nonbinary readers, readers of color, we deserve to be heroes in our own stories and our own fairy talesSeptember 26, 2020
Growing up, I was an avid reader and the Harry Potter series became both one that was sentimental, being on of the last series my father read with me before he passed away, as well as one that was a gateway to the incredibly queer world of fanfiction where attitudes were questioned, discrimination challenged, support was given, and where love was love in whatever form it came in. Evil was always more complex than black and white and no one unquestioningly accepted the ‘canon’ (original author written) plotlines. I was enraptured with those stories imagining safe queer accepting spaces when I had access to none.
It was incredibly hard when this work of fiction that was treasured, my safe refuge in a fantasy world had it’s author revealed to be one that is unconscionable to support. For a lot of folks in the LGBT2Q+ community, their experiences have been similar to mine with Harry Potter connected to cherished memories and lifelines that enabled us to hold on to hope. But we cannot separate the books from it’s author because it’s a product of that author.
While recently JK Rowling has unabashedly come out as a trans-exclusionary feminist, there have long been critiques of her work, from anti-semitism, to racism, to cultural apropriation from Indigenous communities. In the long hard work of allyship, we must recognize that her work carries elements of her prejudices and we must recognize these flaws. We must recognize and admit that all of the structures and ways of being and belief in Rowling’s work are inextricably entwined with her beliefs and bigotries.
For years, there has been a thriving world of fan-fiction that has spun off the Harry Potter world with communities of writers coming together to write in their own representation. You could find a lesbian Hermione who was a strong black woman with her quirky partner Luna. There would be an asexual Daphne, or a Blaise with incredibly complex storylines of being transgender in a magical world that supported and accepted transition. Works, where in the end, the boy who lived found his happy-ever-after with Draco (how was that not obvious?).
There is joy in the resistance of taking a piece of media and making it your own. There is also something giddy and wonderful about reading stories that queer old tropes or, quite literally rework a piece of fiction into something new and subversive. Yet it cannot be denied that re-working a narrative to include minorities points to a larger problem: that the text failed to include them in the first place.
If you are looking for an alternative to Harry Potter, or to simply expand your collection, here is a listing of LGBT2Q+ inclusive Fantasy and Science Fiction alternatives to read, because sometimes the Chosen One isn’t always a middle school boy in love with a girl.
Looking for more sci-fi & fantasy books that are great inclusive reads but not magic centered? Try these book suggestions.
Fairy Tale Theme
Food for Queers
Stay Safe. Not Hungry
Providing support for 2SLGBTQ+ folks experiencing food insecurities within the city of London