Yesterday, I spent about 6.5-7 hours in a tattoo chair. It sucked. But now that it’s all said and done I’m finally free from one of my biggest regrets. The Dark Mark is gone.
I liked the mark. For about a month. You see, I got it in October 2016, when I was young and silly and the world didn’t seem So Bad™. But then Trump won the election and real Nazis decided to come out of the woodwork and having a tattoo linked with a fictional Nazi-esque group gave me the ick.
And then it got worse. I like to consider myself an ally when it comes to trans rights; I have trans family and friends that I love. And JK Rowling is, undoubtedly, one of the most powerful and scary TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) on the planet. When her transphobia first came to light in the mid 2010’s I really thought it would be a phase – surely the woman who penned Harry Potter wouldn’t be discriminating against people because they identify differently than they were assigned at birth. By that logic Voldemort was right and Muggle-born wizards aren’t wizards. Surely she wasn’t that dense.
But then she decided to double down on her transphobia. Then triple down. She just kept, continually, being openly transphobic, especially towards trans women. (At first it was horrifying to watch, but as it’s progressed it’s become more pathetic than anything. She acts the victim and whines about getting “cancelled” while simultaneously saying harmful things. She’s made her whole identity hating trans women when she could have just been the lady that wrote Harry Potter.)
By 2018 or so I was already done with her. I committed that I would no longer purchase any official Harry Potter anything, and I wouldn’t watch the new Fantastic Beasts movies that were coming out. She wasn’t getting another penny out of me. But I was having a really hard time letting go of Harry Potter in its entirety.
Growing up, Harry was my best friend. There was a lot of turmoil and instability in my life when I was young, but the Harry Potter series was my rock, my stability. Hogwarts was just as much my home as it was his. When I didn’t have anything, or anyone, I always had Harry. Those books saved my life; for many years they were my life.
So it was really heart-breaking when I, guided by people less blinded by love than I, started seeing all of the harmful tropes and damaging stereotypes the series contained. Realizing that something I held so dear, something that helped shape my entire world view, was so harmful… it hurt. The only thing I can compare it to is the hurt I feel discussing political and moral matters with certain family members; it’s like I love you but you’re breaking my heart.
Regardless, it became more and more clear that I couldn’t just not fiscally support Joanne. I had to be done with Harry Potter. Trans people are more important than a fictional British wizard. And my Dark Mark was embarrassing; I constantly felt judged by it, and it didn’t align with who I am or my views. Every time I looked at it I was saddened and ashamed and angry.
I decided to cover it up with sunflowers in a nod to Doctor Who. I’ve always loved the episode Vincent and the Doctor and during the pandemic it took on special meaning to me. The live tweet-along was one of the high points of a dark time, and, like Van Gogh, being diagnosed bipolar myself I felt great comfort and pride in how the episode displayed the complexity of mental illness. I couldn’t think of a better thing to cover a dark mark than a sunflower. A constant reminder to appreciate the good things. (But non-specific enough that, if suddenly Doctor Who becomes problematic I don’t have to get another cover up. 😅)