Trans YouTuber explains why she ‘broke down and cried’ on JK Rowling podcast
Trans YouTube star Natalie Wynn, better known as ContraPoints, has claimed that being interviewed for new podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling was so invasive it made her cry.
Wynn told PinkNews she became emotional after realising she “cares” about what the Harry Potter author thinks about trans people. She’s previously said she felt “used” after agreeing to appear on the podcast.
Hosted by ex-Westboro Baptist Church member Megan Phelps-Roper, the series aims to dissect author JK Rowling’s views on trans rights
But many critics, including Wynn, have said Phelps-Roper’s attempts to be impartial feels disingenuous.
“She seems to think she’s just presenting information and letting listeners come to their own conclusions,” Wynn told PinkNews.
“But the thing is that details of presentation and framing lead an audience to certain conclusions. And, the way this is presented, it is setting up JK Rowling as this deep complex person who has this traumatic past and who everyone has hated irrationally.
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“Everything about this so far screams that what we’re supposed to conclude is an equivalency between evangelical Christians in the 90s burning Harry Potter books and the current backlash.”
The podcast has claimed that JK Rowling’s books, and the early religious backlash to them, has “saved LGBTQ+ lives”.
The YouTube star is primarily known for her philosophical video essays. They touch upon societal issues or injustices from a leftist-feminist perspective.
Her most popular video is an hour-and-a-half-long critique of JK Rowling’s history of tweets on trans views, which has gained more than 6.2 million views at the time of writing.
Many of her videos have become celebrated for their ability to deradicalise young men from far-right rhetoric and groups.
‘JK Rowling podcast is a chance to defend my ideas’
Megan Phelps-Roper reportedly told Natalie Wynn her video’s examination of Rowling’s arguments was what prompted her to contact the YouTube creator.
Wynn explained: “I saw this message from Megan Phelps-Roper. She says, ‘I’m doing a podcast about the controversy surrounding JK Rowling. I liked your video and I thought it made some really good points. Would you be willing to talk?'”
After ruminating over whether she would accept the interview, Wynn received a follow-up email from Phelps-Roper. It said she had spoken to Rowling about Wynn’s video.
“She wrote back saying: ‘Just checking in again. I spent four days at Jo’s castle in Edinburgh and I confronted her about some talking points in your video.’
“That’s what drew me in,” Wynn added.
“It seemed like this was going to be a really high-profile thing. It’s a chance to defend my ideas and potentially a chance to be able to actually directly challenge JK Rowling in a way that I’ve never really seen.”
However, upon meeting for the interview, Wynn was instead subjected to an “emotionally heavy” three-hour call. During this, Phelps-Roper asked several invasive questions about her transition.
“I did know pretty early on that this was going to be a mess,” she said. “There were a lot of framing questions about why I was trans, what was it like, and if it’s hard.
“I understand that she’s trying to elicit sound bites that give the audience a frame of reference. But I was being prompted to go through a lot of traumatic and difficult memories that a lot of people like to pick through to decide why you’re trans.
“I was also being asked things like: ‘Well, what about women who feel unsafe in locker rooms around trans women?’
“I forget what the question was about, but at one point I started to break down and cry because I started to realise that there’s some suppressed part of me that cares about what JK Rowling thinks about trans people.”
‘This is not about hating Harry Potter‘
Like many LGBTQ+ people, Natalie Wynn was once a fan of the Harry Potter franchise. During the height of JK Rowling’s divisive comments on trans people, she felt emotionally affected.
“This is not about hating Harry Potter for most of us. I think that any warmth I’ve had towards it has evaporated in the last four years, but I loved it when I was a kid. I even made a Harry Potter fan page when I was in sixth grade.
“In the same way that it hurts to be rejected by your parents, it hurts to be rejected by people you looked up to and admired in your childhood.”
It was for this reason that Wynn wanted to engage with the podcast to express why she believed Rowling’s views have caused such an intense backlash.
But she claimed that less than half of the interview was actually about the author at all.
“About half an hour into the interview, I was thinking: ‘This is a bad idea,'” she added. “I stuck it out because, I don’t know, I’m an agreeable person. I don’t like conflict.
“But I guess I was also hoping on some level that – even if this project is misguided, if I can speak persuasively – maybe something I say can improve the project.”
She says she felt appearing on the JK Rowling podcast would be an “opportunity” for her voice to be heard.
“Who knows what’s going to happen in the later episodes. For all I know, I’ve been cut out of it,” she laughed.
“But my optimism that something good will come out of this is pretty low. So we’ll see.”
Wynn says she urged Phelps-Roper and those looking to report on trans lives to really consider their position before delving into the topic.
“I don’t think empathy is a finite resource, but I think that people who want to cover controversies around topics like this need to think about which stories they really want to centre,” she said.
“I understand it’s appealing to centre JK Rowling because she is famous and that will get attention because people care about what she thinks.
“Maybe instead of being interested in the sad backstory of JK Rowling’s comments on trans people, try to get a little more interest in the victims behind these hate movements that are accusing people of being groomers or leading the legislative backlash.”
Megan Phelps-Roper ‘pained’ at Natalie Wynn’s upset
Megan Phelps-Roper previously told PinkNews it “pained her” that Natalie Wynn felt this way – “especially since the show is not out yet” – but added: “I think I understand where she’s coming from.”
“She appears to be extrapolating from an understandable misreading of the show’s title, but the series we’re making is full of complex questions and stories – including from many LGBTQ+ people – rather than conclusions and justifications.
“I know that withholding judgment is not an easy thing to do, but I believe that if she listens to the show through its end, she will see that it isn’t what she fears it to be.”
Megan Phelps-Roper has been contacted by PinkNews for further comment.
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