JK, ROFLing: What now?
I’m also a millennial who grew up with Harry Potter. Was never a fan. Too wordy, like Stephen King for children. Maybe that’s why she likes him. Well, liked.
And no, I do not identify as transgender, but I do identify as non-binary. I haven’t had to make the extremely difficult decision to transition. That journey was never mine to take, and in many ways, that’s a blessing. Expenses, ridicule, discrimination, harassment, mental health issues, the perpetual possibility of being murdered. Oh, and not peeing in the right place.
That is to say that I love trans people. I love being lumped into an acronym with you. I respect your courage and pride in being who you are even in the face of very real danger. Cis-gender people have trouble doing that in their own skin.
Trans women are women; trans men are men; trans people are people.
J. K. Rowling is a wild ride of “My childhood hero is a dick” and “Why can’t you understand this simple concept?” I can’t speak for J K Rowling. Only she can. And as this supposedly profound writer has done, she’s written too much. Tweeted too much. We all know who else did that and got kicked out of the nest.
At this point, many fans are begging her to just stop. Every transphobic comment thrust into the ether of the Internet is a jab into the books we love(d).
So now what?
As a young adult librarian who also works with children, I need a game plan. Should we still have Harry Potter on the shelf? Sure, throw in a set. I don’t believe in censorship, but I also may not be able to check out Dave Chapelle’s nonsense for a patron. That’s why we have coworkers, right? To do the tough shit. And this is tough shit, indeed.
The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi
The Apprentice Witch by James Nicol
The Chronicles of Jack McCool by R.E. Devine
Eon by Alison Goodman
The Magicians by Lev Grossman
Shit off the top of my head:
Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan
The Heroes of Olympus by Rick Riordan
His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
While I can’t promote taking everyone’s favorite wizard off the shelves, as children and other readers have the right to read them, I do suggest other ideas:
- Have a book-alike list at the ready.
If a patron asks for the bloody book, definitely walk them to the shelf but also suggest other titles on the book-alike list and show them the book. Make sure it is the right reading level for the patron.
- Harry Potter and J. K. Rowling don’t need our advertisement.
No need to put them on posters or around the library more than other books. There are so many classic and new favorites to display.
- Speaking of displays…
Yeah, just no. Why? Literally anything else will do.
- A little knowledge about the author wouldn’t hurt.
For older patrons, playing “Remember when” can be fun when you’re talking about Dumbledore being gay but not but totally. Giving them the slight heads up about what nonsense our lovely J. K. has been spouting won’t hurt anybody. It’s a free service, and the cis-lady has a castle for god’s sake!
- Promote trans books!
Duh. Especially in the children’s and young adult sections, promotion of various identities encourage normalcy in diversity. While celebrities can babble on with their transphobia and defense for not being transphobic, we can show real stories of transgender people in fiction and nonfiction books. Let knowledge and empathy outweigh the nonsense.
Some Books about Transgender Characters
I Am Jazz by Jazz Jennings
When Aiden Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff
Jacob’s New Dress by Sarah Hoffman
My Princess Boy by Cheryl Kilodavis
George or Melissa’s Story by Alex Gino
Gracefully Grayson by Amy Polonsky
10,000 Dresses by Marcus Ewert
If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo
Felix Ever After by Kacen Callender
Detransition, Baby by Torrey Peters
When the Moon was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore
Being Jazz: My Life as a (Transgender) Teen by Jazz Jennings
Trans Like Me by CN Lester
Trans+: Love, Sex, Romance, and Being You by Karen Rayne and Kathryn Gonzales
Tomorrow Will Be Different by Sarah McBride
Beyond Magenta: Transgender Teens Speak Out by Susan Kuklin
Redefining Realness: My Path to Womanhood, Identity, Love & So Much More by Janet Mock
*Thank you to everyone who helped shape my thoughts about this issue. You know who you are.