5 times The Onion brilliantly skewered J.K. Rowling’s & The New York Times’ transphobia

J.K. Rowling, The Ickabog, transphobia
J.K. Rowling Photo: Shutterstock

The Onion, the self-described most important publication on the planet, has gleefully skewered the transphobic leanings of J.K. Rowling and The New York Times several times over.

With trans panic at a fever pitch on all sides, it sometimes seems impossible to find anything but advocacy disguising itself as news coverage on the left or right in the trans debate, pro or con, when it comes to Rowling. You’re either with us or against us, the keyboard warriors seem to be arguing.

There’s quisling fan-girl Pamela Paul writing in support of Rowling at The New York Times and former Westboro Baptist member Megan Phelps-Roper hosting The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling podcast, a project that, some worry, may barely question Rowling’s views. Then, on the other side, are Rowling’s most famous defectors, including Harry Potter’s Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.

The Onion nails the debate like a Roman soldier nailing Spartacus to a crucifix — with gusto. (Editor’s note: Spartacus was only crucified in the 1960 Stanley Kubrick film, not in real life, but the crucifying soldier in the film certainly had fun.)

As the fight over trans rights rages on, The Onion feels like a safe space. It’s good to know that at least one newsroom — albeit a satirical one — is addressing the issue with a sense of humor, along with a perfectly calibrated social conscience.

Here’s a selection of The Onion’s best lines from five recent stories clowning Rowling and the Times:

1. J.K. Rowling Apologizes For Not Making It Clear That Ron Weasley Is The Anti-Semitic Caricature

This article skewers Rowling over the criticism that the banking goblins in her Harry Potter series seem based on anti-Semitic stereotypes of wealth hoarding. Instead, The Onion imagines Rowling explaining that she actually intended her boy wizard’s red-headed sidekick as the true anti-Semitic symbol:

“‘Obviously, I’ve always portrayed Ron as a lowly schemer who’s trying to rise above his proper station in the wizarding world, and I thought those traits alone would convey that he represented the failed Jewish people,’ said the famed writer.”

“’Also, the number of Weasley siblings was supposed to symbolize the common fear that Jewry might ultimately replace Christendom. I’m deeply sorry to those who misunderstood my original intent.’”

2. It Is Journalism’s Sacred Duty To Endanger The Lives Of As Many Trans People As Possible

In this mock editorial, signed by each member of The Onion’s fictional editorial board, the writers resort to the same sort of exaggerated, transphobic scare-mongering that the Times and other publications have been accused of:

“‘Quentin’ is a 14-year-old assigned female at birth who now identifies as male against the wishes of his parents. His transition was supported by one of his unmarried teachers, who is not a virgin. He stole his parents’ car and drove to the hospital, where a doctor immediately began performing top surgery on him. Afterward, driving home drunk from the hospital, Quentin became suicidally depressed, and he wonders now, homeless and ridden with gonorrhea, if transitioning was a mistake.”

“We just made Quentin up, and that’s okay. It doesn’t mean stories like his aren’t potentially happening everywhere, constantly. Good journalism is about finding those stories, even when they don’t exist. It’s about asking the tough questions and ignoring the answers you don’t like, then offering misleading evidence in service of preordained editorial conclusions. In our case, endangering trans people is the lodestar that shapes our coverage. Frankly, if our work isn’t putting trans people further at risk of trauma and violence, we consider it a failure.”

“We remain dedicated to finding the angles that best frame the basic rights of the gender-nonconforming as up for debate.”

“What if puberty blockers are a kind of sex crime?”

3. ‘Harry Potter’ Fan Always Dreamed Of Receiving Magical Defamation Letter From J.K. Rowling

Considering Rowling’s penchant for threatening to sue activists who criticize her views, The Onion imagines a former Harry Potter fan who achieves their life’s dream of receiving a magical letter. (No, not an invitation to Hogwart’s School of Witchcraft and Wizardry — a threat from Rowling’s lawyer.)

“’My whole life, I’ve been destined to journey to a far-off court and lose my entire life savings to a TERF worth over $1 billion. All the signs were there—the threatening DMs, the cease and desists, and her clear disdain for anyone who disputes her.'”

“At press time, Wheelan could not be reached for comment as a large, hairy Scottish man had reportedly driven to his house, put him on his motorcycle, and whisked him off to debtors’ prison.”

4. Evangelical Leaders Announce J.K. Rowling Finally Bigoted Enough That It’s Okay For Kids To Read About Witchcraft

Conservative Christians have long accused the Harry Potter series of leading children to witchcraft and Satanism. But The Onion imagined that Rowling had become transphobic enough to make Evangelical officials supportive of her work.

“’While I always appreciated Ms. Rowling making the greedy banker goblins a thinly veiled stand-in for the Jews, it is only with her assertions that trans women aren’t women that I’ve finally come around to allowing children to read her books,’ said evangelist and Focus on the Family president Jim Daly, explaining that while he still did not approve of the satanic imagery embedded throughout the Harry Potter series, Rowling’s consistent dehumanization of people who are different from her had prompted him to reconsider.”

“I understand that her tacitly justifying slavery though the depictions of house elves was meant as an olive branch, but now, with her steadfast commitment to demonizing trans people, she has finally won us over. And look, I’m not thrilled about the idea of my children potentially learning spells, but I’m willing to overlook that considering one of the only Asian characters in the entire franchise is named Cho Chang.”

5. The Onion’s Exclusive Interview With J.K. Rowling

Rowling has defiantly continued making transphobic statements, saying she’s too rich to care about hurting trans people. The Onion skewered this heartless mindset by portraying Rowling as a hilariously out-of-touch creature of her own weird making.

The Onion: “Will you be silenced?”

J.K. Rowling: “No. I’m a middle-aged billionaire with access to the latest medical technologies. You’ll keep hearing from me for the next 350 years, at least.”

The Onion: “Was it embarrassing when you used a pseudonym to see if people would like your work without the name J.K. Rowling attached, and it turns out that they didn’t like it at all, and then you had to reveal you were using a pseudonym to increase the sales?”

J.K. Rowling: “Yes, quite.”

The Onion: “Why are you such a huge fucking hateful dork?”

J.K. Rowling: “I prefer the term ‘fantastical bigot.’”

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