Fans are covering or removing their 'Harry Potter' tattoos after J.K. Rowling's comments about trans people
A fan attends a Harry Potter Book Night 2020 in Buenos Aires, Argentina.
Ricardo Ceppi / Getty Images
Over the years, many dedicated "Harry Potter" fans have been inspired by the series.
J.K. Rowling's recent comments on transsexuals and gender identity have prompted many people to make plans to remove or cover their tattoos.
Some graphic designers and artists are working to redesign people's "Harry Potter" tattoos in exchange for donations to organizations that support trans women.
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Over the years, the fantastic world of J.K. Rowling's "Harry Potter" series was a safe haven and a source of community for millions of fans. Many people have gone so far as to get "Potter" tattoos to honor their impact on their lives.
But now that Rowling's beliefs about trans people and gender identity have come to light, fans are not only wondering how to deal with the author's hurtful comments, but also what to do with their ink.
Recent criticism of J.K. Rowling was triggered by her comments about trans people
Rowling recently came under fire again for writing a series of tweets and an essay that prompted many to call her a radical feminist or "TERF".
In her June 6 tweets, Rowling said that transgender activism can hurt women and lesbians. She then wrote her "Reasons to Comment on Sex and Gender Issues" in a 3,600-word article published on her website. The author reaffirmed her belief in the importance of "organic sex" and perpetuated harmful and false myths about trans people, including the reasons why they seek gender-affirmative care.
Rowling has since been criticized by "Harry Potter" movie stars, other celebrities and fans alike. Organizations like GLAAD and Human Rights Campaign also called rowling out, with many saying the comments were transphobic and inaccurate.
Given Rowling's comments, many fans no longer want tattoos associated with their work
Many fans choose to have their "Harry Potter" tattoos after J.K. Rowling's comments on trans identity.
Javier Romera / Shutterstock.com
In conversation with Insider, many long-time fans felt hurt with "Potter" tattoos and were in conflict with their most recent comments.
"It was just a confirmation that even if the magical world that created it meant a lot to me, I would never be welcome in this world," said Lo, a 23-year-old Harry Potter fan from Sverige . Sweden, said insiders. "She would see me as mentally ill or disturbed, or as a traitor to women, since I am classified as female at birth but not as a female."
Lo got her first tattoo at 18 - a quote on her arm from "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire" that says, "To numb the pain for a while will make it worse when you finally feel it." Although Lo grew up with the series and has felt comfortable with the quote over the years, they are now planning to cover the tattoo with a tree or forest design.
Olivera, a 30-year-old fan from Canterbury, England, attributes the "Harry Potter" series above all to her love of reading and her decision to study English literature at the university. On Halloween 2016, she got the Marauder's Map tattooed - a map of the magical Hogwarts school from the series - to remind her of what she thought would always be an important part of her life.
After reading Olivera Rowling's recent comments, she is now working with an artist friend to cover up the tattoo.
The Marauder's Map in the "Harry Potter" Movies.
"It is sad because this tattoo was nostalgic and meaningful, but it is now knowing that the person who is ultimately behind it does not believe some of the people I love most that they deserve rights and that they are less important than them. "She said.
Alexandria, a 26-year-old teacher from Seattle, Washington, thinks of her students when she thinks about covering up her "Harry Potter" tattoo - a symbol of the Deathly Hallows (a well-known symbol from the series) on her right wrist .
"Although I honor Harry Potter as a special place in my growth and how I came to find community, I disagree with their values," she told Insider. "I teach students, especially middle school students. And at the beginning of each year they are always particularly curious about my tattoos, which I like to share. But for me it is contradicting my values in the classroom to say that I have a safe classroom and then a tattoo of a woman who is a TERF. It seems insincere not to show my values in my actions. "
Others are considering just keeping "Potter" tattoos with less obvious ties to the series
Sierra, a 25-year-old "Harry Potter" fan from Illinois, opted for two "Harry Potter" tattoos in 2016 - one with a flash, the scar title character that Harry Potter has on his forehead, and the other with the one Three stars in the corners of the original "Harry Potter" book pages.
She says she added the stars while getting a larger tattoo to be a fan of the series for 15 years, but now she plans to add her plant or green tattoo to her flash tattoo, according to Rowling's recent comments cover.
The three stars in the corner of the original "Harry Potter" book pages have become a popular fan tattoo.
Sarah L. Voisin / The Washington Post via Getty Images
"Since the tattoos were pretty impulsive anyway, I'm just not too worried about keeping them," she told Insider. "I'm more inclined to keep the tattoo of the stars because it's more about magic and possibilities, but the flash is a definite and specific reference to Harry Potter."
"I think with the passage of time since the books and films came out, statements like JK Rowling's have become more and more important in people's minds, and I don't want to be associated with the beliefs they have had recently has described. " She added.
Some artists design Harry Potter tattoo coverups
Graphic designer Molly Knox Ostertag designs tattoo coverups of "Harry Potter" for fans in exchange for donations to organizations that support black trans women.
Molly Knox Easter day via Twitter
A number of designers and tattoo artists work with "Potter" fans to cover up their tattoos with new designs based on Rowling's comments.
Writer and graphic designer Molly Knox Ostertag offered to draw cover-ups for "Harry Potter" tattoos in exchange for donations to the Trans Women of Color Collective or a similar organization - and to draw cover-ups for tattoos by transfans for free.
Molly Knox Easter Day
I spent today drawing cover-ups for Harry Potter tattoos to get donations for
- I still have a lot of work to do and I'm not taking it anymore, but here are some that I liked today!
1:26 - June 9, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
4,001 people are talking about it
The trans-comic creator Sfé R. Monster also designs cover-up tattoos, especially for other Trans-Potter fans.
For my trans community, if you have a Harry Potter tattoo and want a custom wolf department to cover it, you and DM can do it. This offer is also for cis people, but we have to work out a tip or a donation or something.
9:10 p.m. - June 9, 2020
Twitter Ads info and privacy
495 people are talking about it
"I knew I wanted to do something tangible and immediate, so I offered to create free coverup tattoos for other transsexuals who don't want to carry Rowling's work around with them," Monster told Insider. "Being able to say 'hurt that hurts but I want to help' and being part of someone's personal healing process was frankly a recovery for me."
Monster also told insiders that, according to their experience, fans are hurt and "mourn" by the famous author's comments.
"I'm a freelance artist and I've designed hundreds of tattoos over the years, but I've never done anything like this," they said. "The people I'm working with are hurt and grief, but they're also nice and enthusiastic, and I really enjoyed my job."
While they may no longer want Potter tattoos, many fans prefer to celebrate the fan communities associated with the series
Although many Harry Potter fans want to distance themselves from Rowling and her beliefs, the community and relationships they have built through the fandom remain important.
"[My tattoos] are definitely more of a connection to the Harry Potter community or the idealistic memories I have of the series than a connection specifically to J.K. Rowling or another specific person," Sierra told Insider.
"The books were never perfect, but the community they brought was very important to me," said Lo. "And I still want that, but I feel like I can't have it on my body anymore. It doesn't represent anything I want on my body."
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