What's the Tea?

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez Has Something to Say to JK Rowling

Michaela Jaé Rodriguez has some words for JK Rowling—words that disarm the author’s fear-mongering in the most lighthearted way possible. In a recent profile with Variety, the Pose star and all-around trans icon described what she would say to the anti-trans author if she ever had the chance.

In February, Rowling was the subject of a new podcast, “The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.” Although billed as a two-sided conversation about trans rights (with neither the host nor Rowling representing the trans side), it largely functioned as another platform for the author to deride supposed “cancel culture” and reiterate her anti-trans views.

Rodriguez herself is a Harry Potter fan, but she’s long since separated the art from the artist. “It’s a childhood memory that all of us have grasped onto and don’t want to let go,” she said. “Because of the story. We’re not thinking about JK Rowling, I can promise you. I’m thinking about Hermione Granger, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley and their silliness and also their growth.”

It is this view that allows her to diffuse Rowling’s exclusionary rhetoric. “Some of the stuff that she says really doesn’t phase me so much. I’m not here for it,” she said. “I will always remain a trans woman. I will always call myself a trans woman. I will always refer to other biological women as cis women, in a non-derogatory way. But I’m a strong girl. I’m a strong woman. I was raised by a strong Black woman, which JK Rowling was not. I would love to have a conversation with her.”

As for what she would say in this hypothetical conversation, Rodriguez goes straight for humor. “I would start off with something that’s very lighthearted,” she explained, “just to let her know I’m not someone who is abrasive or who is intimidating, because I’m sure there are trans people who are intimidating her a little bit and making her feel this way.

“I would first start off by saying, ‘Girl, OK, tell me what is the tea? Is there a trans person in your life that’s really making you feel a certain type of way about your womanhood? Because I can promise you that there are other trans women who will show you what it’s actually like to walk in our shoes. Because I can promise you, as a cis biological woman, you just will never understand, just as we will never understand you. But we’re women, so we have to be there for each other.’”

Of course, the uber-rich rarely get the chance to have their views confronted in this way—mainly because they have enough money and influence to avoid confrontation. All the same, Rodriguez’s words represent a much more human approach than JK Rowling has offered—having compared trans activists to the murderous, Nazi-coded wizards, The Death Eaters, in her new podcast. So while the conversation is bound to remain hypothetical, it’s another example of why Rodriguez is a powerful voice in the community and a general class act.

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