J.K. Rowling's Controversy Explained: Will She Return for More Harry Potter?

By Sam Hargrave Updated:
J.K. Rowling, Harry potter

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has become a controversial figure in recent years, here's exactly why and what her future with the franchise may involve.

Rowling found fame in the late '90s and early 2000s for penning the seven-book Harry Potter franchise, which she would later go on to serve as a consultant on the eight-movie big-screen adaptation of.

Since then, Rowling has written seven books in the Cormoran Strike detective book series under the pen name of Robert Galbraith. She even took another dip into her Wizarding World as she wrote the scripts for the three Fantastic Beasts movies, earning mixed reactions.

J.K. Rowling's Transphobia Controversy Explained

Harry Potter poster
Warner Bros.

The controversy surrounding JK Rowling started in March 2018 after she liked a transphobic tweet that referred to trans women as "men in dresses" - something which the author's spokesperson dismissed to Pink News as an accident.

Later, in December 2019, Rowling came to the defense of researcher Maya Forstater, who was fired for expressing her transphobic views. The Harry Potter creator stated on Twitter people should be able to act as they please but pushed back against "[forcing] women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real:"

"Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?"

In June 2020, several months into the pandemic, Rowling tweeted an article from Devex with the headline "Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate," particularly taking issue with how it avoided the term women:

"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Naturally, this sparked backlash from many, including Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe expressed in an article on the Trevor Project that "transgender women are women," opposing Rowling's statements to the contrary.

The controversial author took to her own website to publish a 3600-word essay defending her views, during which she revealed her concerns about trans activism and slammed those would would say "Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves."

Rowling would seemingly go on to take her views into her work with her crime novel Troubled Blood in which the killer proved to be a man dressed as a woman. The 2022 follow-up, An Ink Black Heart, dipped into similar themes, featuring a YouTube creator who was accused of being transphobic. 

Amid the controversy, Rowling would later be one of the few key figures in the Harry Potter movie franchise not to appear in the Return to Hogwarts 20th anniversary reunion special on HBO Max. She later claimed she "didn’t want to do it" as opposed to being excluded by the studio.

When the Scottish government attempted to pass a bill to make it easier for young people to legally change gender by reducing the minimum age from 18 to 16 and removing the requirement for a medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria, Rowling opposed saying how it would "harm the most vulnerable women."

She would even respond to comments from UK Labour Party leader Keir Starmer who stated "trans women are women." Via The Guardian, Rowling called the comments "another indication that the Labour Party can no longer be counted on to defend women's rights."

Will JK Rowling Return to Harry Potter?

Since JK Rowling became arguably one of the most controversial figures out there, many have been desperate to see her distanced from the Harry Potter franchise completely, with some even going as far as to boycott any new entries in the Wizarding World due to the revenue she will receive from it.

The Wizarding World creator took a reduced role in the franchise's latest entry, Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore, as she stepped back from solo writer to co-write the screenplay with Steve Kloves. However, there is no indication that had anything to do with the controversy surrounding her.

Warner Bros. appears to be as committed to Rowling as ever, as reports have claimed they realized they were "stuck with her" after attempts to buy her out of the franchise were supposedly met with a request for an "insane amount."

A statement from the studio in June 2022 just after the release of Fantastic Beasts 3 even defended Rowling and praised her as "one of the world's most accomplished storytellers," sharing pride to keep working with her:

"She is one of the world's most accomplished storytellers, and we are proud to be the studio to bring her vision, characters and stories to life now — and for decades to come," 

Rowling's involvement may prove to become an obstacle for Warner Bros. as the reboot series moves further into development, as rumors have even claimed her presence may have been what pushed some away from making a ninth movie.

The creator will serve as an executive producer on the project, to which she commented - via Entertainment Weekly - how she is "looking forward to being part of this new adaptation:"

"Max's commitment to preserving the integrity of my books is important to me. I'm looking forward to being part of this new adaptation which will allow for a degree of depth and detail only afforded by a long form television series."

Commenting on the controversy surrounding Rowling, Max chairman Casey Bloys called the discussion around her a "very online" one that's "obviously very nuanced and complicated." He went on to seemingly dismiss any notion of internal concern, stating how the "priority is what's on screen:"

"Our priority is what's on screen, and obviously the Harry Potter story is incredibly formative and positive and about love and self-acceptance."

Despite maintaining a role in the new Max reboot, Rowling sat out the recent Hogwarts Legacy game altogether, with the title's FAQ page noting how she was "not involved in the creation of the game," but did state that the studio had "collaborated closely with her team:"

"J.K. Rowling was not involved in the creation of the game, but as creator of the wizarding world and one of the world’s greatest storytellers, her extraordinary body of writing is the foundation of all projects in the Wizarding World. This is not a new story from J.K. Rowling, however we have collaborated closely with her team on all aspects of the game to ensure it remains in line with the magical experiences fans expect."

The popular Hogwarts Legacy game even opened the doors for players to create transgender characters to play as, despite the controversy surrounding Rowling having stemmed from her apparent transphobic comments.

So, the bottom line, as the creator and owner of the Wizarding World, Rowling will likely always continue to be involved in the franchise in some capacity.

The Harry Potter franchise will return in a new rebooted series on Max, the release date for which has yet to be announced at this time.

- About The Author: Sam Hargrave
Sam Hargrave is the Associate Editor at The Direct. He joined the team as a gaming writer in 2020 before later expanding into writing for all areas of The Direct and taking on further responsibilities such as editorial tasks and image creation.