June 22, 2016 | Comment Watchworthy Wednesday: Protego — An Orlando Call to Action

Categories: Digital Citizenship, Equity
illustration of Harry Potter casting the protego spell in response to Orlando tragedy.

Just days before a gunman killed 49 people in a crowded nightclub in Orlando, Fla., the Harry Potter Alliance launched its “Protego” campaign, which aims to make the world a safer place for the transgender community.

The Pulse nightclub shooting, the 11-year-old nonprofit HPA notes, was a hate crime that “sits at the intersection of many forms of oppression.” In author J.K. Rowling’s books, the heroes fight against injustice and the HPA wants people to do that in real life. 

“Protego is the HPA’s first ever transgender rights and safe spaces campaign, named after the shield charm used in the Harry Potter universe,” explains Jackson Bird, HPA’s communications director. “We don’t have such spells in real life, but we can try to make the world safer by working together to combat violence and defeat acts of hate.” 

Eight percent of HPA’s members identify as trans and non-binary and 44% identify as LGBTQIA+ “so Orlando hit all of us extra hard,” says Katie Bowers, HPA campaigns director. “We really wanted to do a campaign that focused on the needs of that particular community, so we launched Protego 10 days before the Orlando tragedy, and it’s an excellent framework for channeling grief and fear into hope and activism.”

The campaign offers a downloadable toolkit that gives advice on individual, community and policy actions and provides resource links to organizations committed to helping trans people. It offers action guidance, including:

  • Read and educate yourself and others about the many intersecting issues of oppression, policy, and identity using the #PulseOrlandoSyllabus.
  • Be visible. Visit weareorlando.org to learn about local vigils and solidarity events in your community.
  • Be online. Use social media to show your support for the LGTBQIA+ community, Latinx, and Muslims, and speak out against racism, Islamaphobia, homophobia and transphobia.
  • Donate to the Pulse Victims Fund to help cover the costs that victims and their families will face.
  • Host a blood drive. Even if you don’t live in Orlando, keeping blood banks stocked is essential to saving lives when violent tragedy occurs.

Here’s the HPA Protego campaign video.

Banner illustration by Martine Joelle McDonald

Editor’s note: This is the first Watchworthy Wednesday post, highlighting an interesting DML resource, that will appear in this blog every Wednesday. Any tips for future posts are welcome. Please comment below or send email to mcruz@hri.uci.edu.