Pin It
Molly Knox Ostertag
courtesy of Molly Knox Ostertag

This illustrator is offering trans people free Harry Potter tattoo coverups


TextAlex Peters

JK Rowling’s transphobia has forced many to re-evaluate their relationship to the famous boy wizard

An illustrator has been making productive use of her anger at JK Rowling by offering cover-ups for people who no longer feel comfortable with their Harry Potter tattoos.

Last week, the Harry Potter author received widespread condemnation after she published a series of tweets attacking the transgender community and then doubled-down on this transphobic rhetoric in a lengthy blog post.

The 3,700-word essay saw the author spout various pieces of misinformation with no evidence to back them up. The idea held by many trans-exclusionary radical feminists, for example, that allowing trans people to use bathrooms that align with their identities endangers other people has no truth behind it. Researchers have found that young trans and nonbinary people in fact face a greater risk of sexual assault when they are denied use of appropriate restrooms or locker rooms.

This transphobia from Rowling has caused much re-evaluating for many in the Harry Potter fandom who are understandably gutted that a series in which they had found solace has been soured by the personal views of the author. For some former fans this means re-thinking their Potter-inspired tattoos and this is where Molly Knox Ostertag stepped in.

An illustrator and graphic novelist, designing tattoo cover-ups wasn’t something that Ostertag had given much thought to previously. However, after JK Rowling’s attack she began to think back to when she had considered getting a Harry Potter tattoo when she was younger and how grateful she was now that she hadn’t gone through with it. “I thought about how many queer people I know do have Harry Potter tattoos, and I wanted to help them out in a small way,” she says. For cis people, Ostertag offered cover-up designs in exchange for a donation to the Trans Women of Colour Collective, while those who are trans received them for free. From a delicate floral motif to cover Harry’s signature glasses and scar to a starry ram over top of the Deathly Hallows symbol, Osterag’s designs bring some needed joy to the tarnished originals. It’s been an emotional experience.

“The books were foundational to my childhood,” she says. “I'm a graphic novelist for kids and she was definitely a source of inspiration for my career path.” Rowling’s words have caused her anger and sadness but she has found catharsis in designing cool tattoos to cover up the marks of her work. “For a lot of people, Harry Potter was an escape, a place they could imagine themselves when the real world was hard to deal with. It's such a betrayal to realize the person behind the story hates you, or hates people you love, and is promoting violent ideas that hurt marginalised people,” she says. “I hope the coverup tattoos make people feel like they can reclaim the space for themselves.”

Since Rowling expressed her views last week, many of the actors involved in the Harry Potter films have come forward in solidarity with the trans community including all three leads Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint.

In a statement published by The Trevor Project, Radcliffe tried to offer comfort to those fans whose love of the books had been diminished by Rowling’s comments. “If you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred,” he wrote. However, for Ostertag there is no going back particularly as a children’s author herself.

“I don't pass judgement on how other people process this,” she explains, “but I've never been able to seperate stories from their author. I put a lot of myself into my books, and I think really hard about what message I'm sending with them. So even though Harry Potter doesn't seem to have anything to do with transphobia, the idea that it's written by a transphobic person, that it came from that space, sours it for me. It makes me question aspects of that fantasy world.”

“When creators make work for children, I expect them to have an awareness of their impact and how it can influence young people,” she continues. “This whole situation – it's her outdated, hateful beliefs but it's also the fact that she aired them during a global conversation about racial injustice and a pandemic, the fact that she used what she is best known for – writing – to make her attack on trans people, the fact that so many people in the queer community loved her work and she still went off like that, that she used feminism and gay allyship to hide the hatefulness of her rhetoric…someone like that is not a person whose world I want to escape into.”

Read Next
Goop Labs
Gwyneth Paltrow’s kombucha and kimchi COVID advice criticised by NHS Beauty news
valentino voce viva lady gaga fragrance campaign
Valentino Beauty’s newest fragrance helps celebrate your voice and strength Product of the Week
folx health lgbtq trans healthcare hormones
FOLX Health is rewriting the script for LGBTQ+ healthcare Beauty Feature
cara delevingne model haircut hair shag trend
Cara Delevingne’s new shag haircut brings the hair trend into 2021 Beauty news
kris jenner skin skincare brand beauty
Step aside Kim & Kylie: Kris Jenner wants her own beauty brand Beauty news
skin skincare skinimalism trend regime
Why skinimalism, skincare’s fave new trend, is anti-capitalism repackaged Beauty Feature
furmaan ahmed non-binary photographer set designer artist
Furmaan Ahmed’s surreal atmospheric world is an escape from mundane reality Art Director
mona leanne makeup artist product review highlighter
This make-up must-have will give any look an ethereal iridescence Product of the Week
george jasper stone digital artist cgi
George Jasper Stone’s digital utopias meld the natural and unnatural artist
retinol skin glowing skincare
12 of the best retinols for glowing, rejuvenated skin products
Huda Beauty – Article Cover
How to win yourself a Huda Beauty Mercury Retrograde palette Beauty news
the c-list cancer beauty platform self-care
The C-List is the new platform making beauty safe for cancer patients Beauty Feature
lil uzi vert pink diamond forehead implant
Lil Uzi Vert on why he got his $24m pink diamond forehead implant Beauty news
goop vibrator sex toy sexual wellness
Goop just dropped its first vibrator Beauty news
ephemeral made to fade temporary tattoo ink
Ephemeral’s made-to-fade tattoos will change the industry forever Beauty Feature
TikTok Republicans
Seeing red: TikTokers are transforming into their Republican alter egos Beauty news