Trans woman triumphantly changes name to Ellen Potter after sharing deadname with You-Know-Who’s most famous wizard
For more than two decades, Ellen Potter, a trans woman, has seen the name she was assigned at birth plastered on film posters and book sleeves, on boxes of Lego and even tattooed onto people’s arms.
“So, I was born named, Harry Potter,” Ellen, a 24-year-old British citizen now based in Ohio, said on Twitter Sunday (27 September).
“It was just a coincidence, but it’s been challenging going through life with a famous name. Anyway, I just got my legal name change approved.”
@jk_rowling So I was born named Harry Potter, before the books were published, it's just a coincidence but it's been challenging going through life with a famous name.
anyway, I just got my legal name change approved?️⚧️ pic.twitter.com/moHqP5nh2c
— Ellen Potter (@CMDREllenPotter) September 27, 2020
Her tweet quickly drew tens of thousands of likes from users who saw Ellen’s legal name change as a balm of sorts amid the stinging criticism levelled towards Rowling who, in recent months, has gone from a mere stoop-sitter to full-on commentariat when it comes to trans rights.
A change that Ellen told PinkNews was “heartbreaking”.
“Joanne was an idol from my childhood, who in many ways has shaped my whole life,” she said.
“It’s been so hard seeing her turn into somebody so vehemently opposed to my identity, and that of so many other Harry Potter fans.”
‘It never truly felt like my name to begin with and instead felt like a wizard that people associated with me.’
Born just a year before the Harry Potter book series came out – before the seven books unfolded into eight movies, an ever-expanding, ever-lucrative franchise and an enduring fanbase – much of Ellen’s life was moulded by works of fiction.
Bright-eyed classmates treated her like a celebrity. Prospective employers burrowed their brows in disbelief. First responders even once assumed a phone call about her breaking her leg was a prank.
She spent many of her younger years appearing on radio airwaves, newspaper articles and television broadcasts. All because of her name at the time.
“I grew up alongside the character,” Ellen told PinkNews, “I suppose both the character and I were famous from a young age due to nothing more than birth circumstances so I had a huge affinity for the character.”
“It’s very liberating to finally be Ellen legally,” she mused, “I never really felt like the name ‘Harry Potter’ was me,” she reflected.
“I had a very loose connection with the name because of the character, it never truly felt like my name to begin with and instead felt like a wizard that people associated with me, so I reckon I have far less intense name dysphoria than most trans people.
“The only part that especially bothers me is that I’ll never truly be able to move on or forget my dead name since it’s everywhere.
“Because of never really feeling like I had a name, I couldn’t imagine giving myself a new original name, it just doesn’t feel right for a name to mean ‘me’ and nothing but ‘me’ so I went with another character’s name, it’s all I know how to be.
“So Ellen comes from Sigourney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley from the 1979 Ridley Scott movie, Alien, my favourite character and movie, I just kept my original surname.”
JK Rowling, once a beloved children’s book author, now known for explosive trans views.
JK Rowling carved out the world of Harry Potter – and, in turn, how for years people treated Ellen – but now scores of Potterheads are being forced to reimagine the Wizarding World without its creator after the British author emerged as a critic of trans lives.
Across cavernous blog posts and stretched-out Twitter threads, Rowling has compared the healthcare available to trans youth to conversion therapy and said many more comments that have seen her labelled as “a threat to the LGBT+ community” by trans community leaders.
Beleaguered LGBT+ Potter readers, needled by seeing a figure so beloved sputter such bile, and see the books they once read with warm nostalgia feel them with stress or unease, have felt lost.
“I really loved Harry Potter my whole life,” Ellen said. “I probably had to, I can’t imagine how miserable life would have been if I hated it.”
“That’s what hurts I think,” she added, “the fact that Harry Potter always felt like such a safe haven for LGBT+ people.
“But with her recent attitude, it doesn’t feel safe anymore, not to mention other problematic allegories in the books.
“I’m really not sure where the fandom goes from here.”
Ellen said she was simply stunned by the number of positive responses her tweet received – “I cried tears of joy reading all of the comments,” she said.
“I’m grateful for all the love sent my way and wish I could send as much back into the world, it sure needs some right now.”