JK Rowling Faces Backlash For More Anti-Transgender Tweets

Has she failed Harry Potter fans?

Photo by JuniperPhoton on Unsplash

JK Rowling faces backlash for comments on the phrase “people who menstruate”. Her tweet (as seen below) expresses a wish for the word women to replace people in the article heading on Devex. But as pointed out by many hundreds of people it’s not just women who menstruate and some women don’t menstruate.

Screenshot of JK Rowling’s Tweet

In response, Twitter has exploded in a flurry of angry tweets. Mary Lambert asks, “You have power and influence. Why would you do this? What does it achieve? Do you feel like more of a woman when you punch down? Are you threatened? Some trans men menstruate. Why does that affect you? Why do you want to police that?”

My question is, why speak out again?

We already had the heartbreaking first time revelation that our favourite Harry Potter author was transphobic in December 2019. So, why can’t Rowling learn from the past, change her view or keep quiet?

Vanity Fair reported, “J.K. Rowling took to social media, writing, “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? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”

Vanity Fair explain, “Her comments in support of Maya Forstater, who was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, came after the researcher lost a court challenge against her termination at the CGD. According to the Guardian, Judge James Tayler ruled that Forstater’s termination was valid since her “absolutist” beliefs regarding biological sex includes referring to a person “by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.”

Initially, JK Rowling’s rags to riches story served as an inspiration to many, including me. Insider explain, “Without a job, Rowling visited different Edinburgh cafés and hunkered down to write her first novel on a typewriter. She often brought along Jessica, who slept in a pram next to her. (She then) overcame a dozen rejections from publishers to become… one of the most successful and widely read authors in the history of the world.”

This icon of inspiration was shattered for me when JK Rowling first aired her opinions on trans people. I had presumed a creative person with an imagination would be able to understand the plight of people, and be open to everyone’s perspective.

The most pressing issue however, is not the fact she can’t understand the difference between sex and gender but why she feels the need to publicly criticise a vulnerable group of people.

She defended her most recent transphobic tweet by saying, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Brad Walsh replies, “You’re a smart person. How do you not yet understand the difference between sex and gender? The only way I can possibly explain your ignorance at this point is willfulness. It’s incredibly disappointing.”

So, let’s make sure we’re all clear on the difference. Here’s en excerpt from trusty Wikopedia to help us out:

Difference between gender and sex

“The distinction between sex and gender differentiates a person’s biological sex (the anatomy of an individual’s reproductive system, and secondary sex characteristics) from that person’s gender, which can refer to either social roles based on the sex of the person (gender role) or personal identification of one’s own gender based on an internal awareness (gender identity).”

Eugene Gu says it best, “As a physician, I want people to know that sex exists on a bimodal biological spectrum just like gender exists on a bimodal sociological spectrum. While most identify as either female or male, there are intersex and trans individuals whose identities are just as valid and real.”

There’s no debate that sex isn’t real. But that’s not the issue which needs to be defended here. Freedom of expression needs to be defended. Why worry about a scientific fact to such a degree that it is translated as offensive to so many people?

And why is there such a heavy focus on sticking up for a biological term anyway?

If Rowling knows and loves trans people, I wonder if they appreciate her passionate defence for the existence of a biological term? Surely it’s not linguistics which need to be protected here, it’s the emotions and free expression of millions of people?

We feel disappointed in JK Rowling because she is using her platform to spread hate. However, she does defend her tweets. So, is it possible to think she has simply got confused? She has focused on a definition, and not realised she is neglecting a much more important issue.

And of course, she is free to say whatever she wants.

But we are also free to be offended. And I can’t help but feel she has a duty as a children’s author to encourage love, freedom and happiness for all.

By coming back again with more offensive tweets, any remaining Harry Potter fans who somehow didn’t know about her first tweet in December 2019, will now know for sure. Her recent tweets leave no room for doubt and little manoeuvre for forgiveness.

So, here’s hoping JK Rowling sees sense and rectifies her mistakes.

Sex, life & mental health | P.S I Love You | Mind Cafe | Find out how to go from 0 to $1k on Medium with my free six-day writing course pages.matildaswinney.com

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