It?s time for a new personality test, based on a far less problematic franchise.
A photo of JK Rowling in 1999. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
For the past few years, progressive Harry Potter fans have looked on with alarm as the series? creator JK Rowling has tweeted increasingly worrisome things.
I?m not talking about her strange, retconny tweets about Hufflepuff kids having orgies and Dumbledore and Grindlewald hooking up, by the way. Those tweets, while bizarre and sometimes in poor taste, are more annoying than they are harmful. No, what I?m referring to is Rowling?s slow, steady progression toward public transmisogyny.
Eagle-eyed Rowling fans have seen it coming for a long time, of course. The author has been favoriting tweets by trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs) for years. Her first book written for an adult audience, The Casual Vacancy, featured a predatory trans woman character than many have rightly critiqued as a hateful and dangerous portrayal. Still, for a long time many of us have tried to explain the ignorance away. Some of us hoped she was just a little misinformed, or didn?t fully grasp the implications of what she?d written.
As of Dec 19, 2019, that comfortable denial is no longer possible. JK Rowling has now publicly and vocally come out in defense of TERF ideology, tweeting the following:
Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who?ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?
Rowling is referring to the firing of Maya Forstater, a former fellow at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), who was let go for repeatedly using offensive, exclusionary, and transphobic language. Forstater?s case has become a lightning rod for anti-trans bigots, who are attempting to portray her firing as a case of ?radical trans activists? attempting to control how people speak about us. In reality, of course, Forstater was fired for repeated instances of outspoken, needless hate. Hate that JK Rowling agrees with and and is seeking to defend.
JK Rowling has been a problematic creator for a long time, in a lot of other ways. And I don?t personally believe we have a responsibility to abandon all media created by flawed individuals. However, I believe that we do have a responsibility to engage with the moral complexity of loving work by flawed people.
When we support a media property created by someone who is bigoted, predatory, or who donates to hateful causes, we are actively empowering them to do greater harm, whether we like it or not. We don?t have to excise our love for their work from our minds, of course. It?s not a thought crime to still enjoy their creations. But if we can find a way to do so from a distance, without funding the person?s cruelty, we should.
As a transgender person, I?m no longer interested in filling Rowling?s pockets or granting her more social power by falling back on her media properties in the public way I once did. I?m a proud Slytherin, and I have always found categorizing people in terms of Hogwarts Houses to be a fun, frivolous exercise, on par with trading Enneagram types or Zodiac memes. But I think from now on, I can do better.
I know a lot of people really love playing around with these kinds of quasi personality test systems, find them a fun way to talk about how they see themselves and what sets themselves apart from other people. It?s an easy shorthand, a nice ice-breaker, a fun way of choosing personal symbols and power colors and so much more. I don?t want to take any of that away. Instead, I?d like to provide an alternative for people who, like me, feel weird associating themselves with a Hogwarts House now.
I am proposing a new fun self-categorization system, far more varied and interesting (and far less problematic) than Hogwarts Houses: Pokemon Types.
A list of Pokemon types. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Pokemon Types are the perfect replacement for Hogwarts Houses for a lot of reasons. They?re elemental and colorful, evoking a variety of symbols. Each type is associated with a natural force, a mystical being, or a type of animal. Because each one is associated with literally dozens of Pokemon species, they come with their own built-in mascots. Are you a Bug Type? Maybe Butterfree?s your Patronus. Are you an Ice? Maybe Articuno is your guy.
There?s already a system in place that describes how each type relates to other types. Electric types absolutely throttle water types; water, conversely, beats fire. Just like with Zodiac signs or Myers-Briggs personality types, the Pokemon categorization system can help you explain which people you have a weakness for and why some people do absolutely nothing for you.
Finally, Pokemon typing is a great replacement Hogwarts House assignments because the creator of Pokemon is a truly nonproblematic fave. The game?s origins are pure and easy to admire. After all, Satoshi Tajiri is Autistic, and the entire Pokemon game series is a celebration of Autism.
For many of us Autistic folks, looking someone in the eye is anxiety-provoking and overwhelming. So in Pokemon world, the only time that you make eye contact with someone is when you?re trying to start a fight with them. The game?s massively long species list and intricate web of type matchings and statistics is deeply appealing to many Autistic people?s analytical, obsessive brains. Furthermore, many of us have an easier time empathizing with animals and inanimate objects than we do with people. Pokemon envisions a world where connections with non-human beings are given just as much value as human connections are.
Did I mention there is a canon trans woman character in the games, and she is treated respectfully and with grace? And that the voice of Meowth in the beloved Pokemon cartoon is a trans woman herself? What a step up from the world of Rowling.
I am proposing that we replace Hogwarts Houses with Pokemon Types. Let?s all band together to create Pokemon Type personality tests and memes about how Bug and Water and Fire types all act in various situations. Let?s slowly replace our Hogwarts House affiliations in our Twitter and Tinder bios, and start adorning ourselves with Pikachus and Jigglypuffs instead of lions and snakes.
Below are some initial thoughts from me on the various personality traits of each Pokemon Type. My intention here is to lay the groundwork, and to encourage other creators and fans to build upon it, until we have a system of traits and stereotypes just as robust as the Zodiac. Let?s work together, and playfully explain who we are using a system created by a trans-friendly Autistic Asian man, rather than a wealthy, white Brit with TERF sympathies.
Bug Type personalities are generally shy and skiddish-seeming, but are capable of great transformation. They often appear weak, but evolve more quickly than the other people around them; they?re capable of great glow-ups. They can be glamorous and visionary, but they always go about it in their own weird, off-kilter way. No Bug has every made being popular or widely liked their priority. They have no expectation of their hard work and inventiveness ever earning them status or praise.
Bug Types can be secretive and defensive, hiding themselves behind literal or metaphorical cocoons because they are afraid of getting hurt. This makes sense, because they are sensitive and prone to being misunderstood. Dynamic, changeable, and frequently underestimated, Bug Types make great artists, writers, inventors, and philosophers.
Electric Type personalities are explosive, frenetic, and full of energy. They can be short-tempered and erratic, and often follow their own short-lived caprices and whims. They are also a powerful source of light and inspiration, however, and can be admired leaders if they harness their power properly. Electric Types are modern souls, lovers of technology as well as new ideas.
The most famous and beloved Pokemon, Pikachu, exemplifies the Electric Type. Willful yet adorable, he can be mistaken for a selfish baby. However, when your back is against the wall, you want an Electric Type by your side. They will rise to the occasion and unleash their power in your defense.
Whereas Electric Types fizzle and spark with erratic, inconsistent energy, Fire Types give off a more steady, consistent heat. Confident and powerful, Fire Types can be intimidating and overwhelming to deal with. They speak at a high volume that makes everyone around them listen. If you cross them, you will get burned, and unlike the short-fused Electrics, a Fire Type won?t quickly forget their wrath.
Fire Types are generally extroverted and sociable, though they may come across as boorish or steamrolling. They feed on attention and company, and can develop big egos if not kept in check by a sensitive Water Type or a practical, buzz-killing Ground Type. Mariah Carey, the most iconic Aries of all time, is a Fire Type.
Grass Type personalities blend constancy, nurturing domesticity and hidden reserves of inner strength. If you are an independent, wild spirit, you may find yourself feeling stifled by their protective care, as if the sun is being blocked from your view by a massive, looming tree. However, if you are feeling lost, anxious, and unloved, a Grass Type will give you firm rooting and help revive you.
Don?t get it twisted: Grass Types are not boring. They are mutable and changeable, though admittedly their growth occurs at a slow, gradual pace. Grasses are also tenacious and surprisingly tough. While a Grass Type would strongly prefer to spend their evening cooking an elaborate dinner for you and reading a book while holding your hand on the couch, they can throw down and kick somebody?s ass when the situation requires it. They can be great healers, but don?t forget that Mega Drain comes at a cost of someone else?s energy.
Normal Types don?t get the respect they deserve. You can say that they?re bland and lack distinguishing characteristics, but the truth is that they?re adaptable. They don?t veer into extremes. Unlike some other types, they aren?t caricatures of a handful of traits. They?re even keeled. Complex.
A Normal Type looks out for their own safety and comfort first and foremost. They may seem free of ideology, not committed to ideals. But that?s because their worldview is highly practical and concrete. Normals live in the here and now. They are fabulous at accepting reality on its own terms. Consequently, many Normal Types are very well adjusted and happy, and let most of life?s bullshit slide down their back. Your coworker who says things like ?I try not to think about unpleasant things? and means it is a Normal. Good for her.
Rock Types are tough, but not necessarily as practical and thoughtful as their closest counterparts, the Ground Types. Rocks can be defensive and easily offended. Their brusque way of relating to other people makes them seem more angry than they actually are. Beneath their prickly exterior is a well of love, though they may show it in strange ways, like by fixing your dripping faucet when you didn?t even ask them too.
Rocks are often athletic, hands-on types, and based on this people tend to assume they are less smart than they actually are. They?re concrete thinkers, and probably don?t process things in words so much as in deeds. Nothing bothers them more than being treated like they?re foolish. To win the friendship and lifelong adoration of a rock, treat them with respect, observe and appreciate their gifts of service, and don?t try to outwit them with verbal tricks.
Dark Types are charismatic but intimidating and frightening. They have a distinctive sense of style, and aren?t afraid to flout convention. Because they don?t worry too much about what other people think, they can become great whistle-blowers and advocates for justice. However, their egos and tendency toward selfishness can pollute their best intentions.
Dark Types are persuasive, challenging, and vexing. They can make great religious leaders and mentors, or they can be cult leaders and charlatans. Depressive souls, they have a hard time with genuine, earnest emotion, and buckle when a crying Fairy Type falls into their lap. Filled with inner turmoil and bitterness, Dark Types can overcome their worst impulses to become complex, fascinating leaders. Or they can isolate and decide that they alone get to write the own rules. Daenerys Targaryen is a Dark Type, and represents both the extreme, revolutionary goodness and the corrupted, solipsistic evil that the Type contains.
Fairy Types are weirdo dreamers and effective healers. Each has their own unique aesthetic sensibility, and proudly holds at least a handful of bizarre-seeming beliefs that they?d absolutely love to tell you about. They are steadfast lovers of all things strange, so they often collect friends with idiosyncratic interests, niche hobbies, and scary pasts.
Fairy Types are nonjudgmental, accepting, and curious ? sometimes excessively so. Sometimes they get too hung up on healing other people,and veer into co-dependence. Fairies can seem childlike and kind of sloppy even well into adulthood, but often play it off with a likable charm. Fairies are sensitive and emotional, but don?t like talking about what?s bothering them. Even once you get to know a Fairy very well, you?ll have the sense that they have a whole second life, full of misadventures, that they are keeping from you. You?re right.
Flying Types are adventurous, lucky, outgoing, and sometimes a little annoying. Overly optimistic to a fault, flying types can unwittingly drive away their less fortunate friends with their Pollyanna-ish attitudes. Then again, their positivity and energy tends to bring a lot of opportunities into their lives, so can you really blame them for expecting the best?
Flying Types get a lot done, and are constantly flitting from one hobby to the next. Maddeningly, they excel at nearly every single thing they try. That overachiever friend who ran a marathon, wrote a novel, learned to code, and took up meditating this year? They?re a Flying Type.
Flying Types truly function well on only five hours of sleep, and can get to the gym before work reliably every day. They make great life coaches, teachers, and inspirational speakers; a lot of documentaries have been made about the accomplishments of Flying Types. The best way to love a Flying Type is to stop comparing yourself to them, and don?t try to make them think realistically.
The polar opposite of the Flying Type is the practical, exacting, perfectionist Ground Type. Like Flyings, Grounds tend to be accomplished and talented, but they come about their trophies and status the exact opposite way. They are workaholic, obsessive, and when paired with unreliable people, they can seem deeply pessimistic. However they are deeply reliable and consistent.
Grounds get shit done. They love spreadsheets and organizational charts, and they bring follow-through to any project that involves them. Grounds have great memories, and they will happily bring up that absurd thing you said eight years ago if they think it will help reign in your ridiculous impulsiveness. If you ask a Ground for their opinion, you will get it ? and you may not like it. They are honest, clear-headed, and decisive. Grounds and Grasses make for a great pair ? the Grass Type brings out a domestic bliss and happiness in the Ground that is otherwise rarely seen.
Poisons are funny and sharp. They always know the exact right bon mot to throw out at a dull party or a work meeting, to break up all the pomp and circumstance and lend a little levity. Critical thinkers with crackling wits, they make great comedians, copywriters, and sidekicks. Every surly teenager you?ve ever met has a ton of Poison in them.
Sadly, a Poison?s greatest asset can also be their worst curse. Their penchant for biting analysis can turn cruel, losing them friends and allies. Even worse, their distaste for heartfelt emotion can leave them hurting and isolated if they don?t take steps to address it. Poisons who are working on themselves read self-help books like You Are a Badass and The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck but they feel embarrassed about it. Marc Maron is the iconic example of an emotionaly ascended Poison.
Steels are total nerds. You might not get that impression from them at first ? they may initially come across as a jock or a Rock Type. But at their core, Steels are all about facts, science, and worldly concerns. Steels bring reusable shopping bags to the grocery store. They will correct you pedantically if you say that buying new shoes gives you a dopamine hit. That?s not how dopamine works, they will say. You don?t care. But they do.
When you tell a Steel about a problem, they will try to fix it rather than listen sympathetically. They?re cold and analytical, but it?s not because they don?t care. Being cold and analytical is how they show that they care. Steels will offer to set up a password manager for you. If you say it sounds like too much of a pain, they?ll get concerned and give you a speech about web security. Steels make good parents and science professors. They make for chilly lovers and very safe, very bland party companions.
No Dragon Type has ever been an even remotely normal-seeming person. They seem to operate on their own plane of existence, with its own system of morals and values. Their politics are weird and self-contradictory, and they will do things that confuse you even years into knowing them. They even speak like they?re from another planet.
Unlike the very self-consciously weird Fairy Types, Dragons live their weird lives without any care about whether other people notice. They tend to be reclusive and self-contained. Because they are so resolute about doing things their own way, and feel no need to explain it, they don?t make good long-term partners for most people. However, if you can give them the space they need to forge their own quiet, druidic, odd lives, you can learn a great deal of wisdom from them. High-strung, socially anxious Pokemon Types can learn a lot about detachment from people-pleasing by observing their Dragon friends.
Fighting Types love a competition. Possessed of a strong growth motivation, they are forever seeking new challenges and initiating fresh, unnecessary debates with the people around them. If some smiling, self-assured boy in your Political Science class decided to play Devil?s Advocate just for the fun of it, he was probably a Fighting Type ? especially if he seemed to relish being hated by the whole room.
Fighting Types use everyone around them as a whetstone. Every interaction, every dispute, every challenge or invective thrown in their direction is fodder for their personal growth. They are adaptable and voracious learners, and laugh in the face of setbacks and danger. Fighting Types love backpacking, hiking, blundering their way through learning new languages, and joining social justice organizations when they aren?t even halfway informed on the issues yet. The more slow and contemplative among us may find them super irritating, but they?re probably gonna wind up being President some day.
What sets Ghost Types apart is that they have a past, a history that they can?t escape. That doesn?t necessarily mean a traumatic event. While some Ghosts are mournful or caught dwelling on old pains, others appear to be clutching to a distant past of revelry, party-times, and perversion. Like an aging rocker who can?t forget his glory days, Ghosts are suspended in a youth that they cannot outgrow.
Unlike some of the other emotionally-distant-seeming types, such as Ice and Psychic, Ghosts are not intentionally putting walls up between themselves and other people. In fact, they can be over-sharers, telling long stories about their pasts, bearing their worst inner selves, revealing kinks you didn?t ask about. Still, there is liminal veil between them and everyone else that is always getting in the way. The curse of Ghost Types is that they feel things very intensely, they hunger and yearn, but they can?t ever seem to grasp reality or feel anyone else reaching back at them. They make excellent poets, painters, story-tellers, and fanfic writers.
Ices are regal, polite, glamorous, and impossibly hard to know. Many of them seem ageless, in a bit of a pinched, tense-seeming way. With them, every pause is pregnant, and every smile and gesture is appropriate, yet strained. They know a lot about proper etiquette, and always have the right answer for how to gracefully solve a social problem. They have many friends, and host wonderful parties, yet you never feel at ease in their presence.
Ices are as perfectionistic as Grounds, without the impatience and frustratable goal-mindedness. They are graceful and slow, meticulous and proud. Even something as simple as selecting an outfit can be elevated by an Ice into an art. Every step is considered and measured, every accessory perfectly placed. They don?t like being rushed or criticized; they don?t need your criticism, they?ll find the flaws on their own. Beyonce is an Ice, and so are many other Virgoes.
Psychic Types are wizards who toil away in hidden lairs. They take themselves seriously, and devote an almost monastic level of focus to the subjects of their passions. They are virtuosos, mad scientists, master craftsmen, and architects. Sometimes they devote themselves to things that seem utterly banal to everyone else, like collecting old stamps or speed-running Echo the Dolphin. It doesn?t matter what other people think.
Psychic Types find practical concerns to be confining and oppressive. They?re too abstract and transcended to care about the dishes or filing their taxes. They can be overwhelmed by paperwork or minutiae that doesn?t interest them. They find the meaningless, shallow competitions of Fighting Types to be infuriating, and are tormented by the insincere humor of Poisons. Because Psychics take matters seriously, they want other people to, too. Wise and intense, they can make devoted and passionate partners ? if you are intriguing enough to capture their interest.
Playful, adaptable, and reflective, Water Types are easy to love. In the original games, the Water Type Pokemon, Squirtle, was the best starter for a new player to choose. He was effortless to learn how to use. Similarly, Water Type people are easy to befriend. They?re good listeners, affable and empathetic. They?re also fun-loving and sweet, but in a measured way, not as overwhelming or obnoxious as Fire or Flying can sometimes be.
Because they have easy-going, loving personalities, Water Types can be mistaken for lacking intellect or intensity. This isn?t really fair. Waters are sensitive and emotional, and it?s on an emotional level that most of their thinking and processing occurs. They pick up on the energy that other people are giving off, respond to the needs of the situation or the setting. If they aren?t careful, Waters can lose track of their real selves, or come across as lacking backbone. Ices and Electrics can help fill them with energy and steely confidence, helping them become more solid, less wishy-washy versions of themselves.
As you begin playing with this new system and categorizing yourself and your friends, keep in mind that many Pokemon have multiple types. Just as Psyduck is both Psychic and Water, you can be a Fire Type with some Steel Type traits, or any other combination. So, which Type are you, and how does that explain your relationships with the other Types in your life? Let me know!