Is JK Rowling transphobic?


Fact Box

  • J.K. Rowling is best known for being the author of the hit book series Harry Potter, which launched a multi-billion-dollar Warner Brothers franchise
  • Bigotry is defined as “intolerance toward those who hold different opinions from oneself.” Intolerance is defined as “unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behavior that differ from one's own.”
  • Transphobia is defined as a “dislike of or prejudice against transsexual or transgender people.” Prejudice is defined as a “preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.”
  • Rowling, among many other “gender critical” feminists, are often called TERFs—Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists. This label is reserved for any woman who disagrees with common phrases such as “trans women are women” and “trans men are men.” Gender critical feminists/TERFs believe “woman” applies to a protected, distinct class of people (natal females) who retain defined biological characteristics.    
  • Rowling entered headlines last December 19, 2019, Tweeting in support of Maya Forstater, a woman who was fired from her job for expressing gender critical or trans-exclusionary beliefs. On June 6, 2020, she re-emerged into the public spotlight because of her tweeted stance on sex and gender theory. 
  • Gender” is originally a language term, used grammatically inside Germanic and Romantic languages (such as German, French, Spanish) that have gendered (masculine or feminine) words. The idea of this language term “gender” being applied to human sexuality first emerged in 1955 by Sexologist John Money when he coined the term “gender roles.”

Sarah (Yes)

Amidst the pandemic and worldwide protests, J.K Rowling recently took the time to criticize an organization’s use of gender-inclusive language, parroting transphobic talking points. She had fielded previous accusations of transphobia by saying she liked bigoted tweets accidentally; nevertheless, she later openly supported a woman who had lost her job for transphobic comments described as “offensive” by an employment judge. Given 1 in 8 trans people have been attacked at work, this discrimination is no empty threat. However, J.K. Rowling believed the abusive party was the victim, and that the right to deliberately misgender trans women at work was a free speech issue.

Although J.K Rowling insists in a recent essay that she wants “trans women to be safe,” she simultaneously posits their safety against that of “natal” women, opposing practical measures that would make them safer and characterizing their presence in women-only spaces as threatening. She focuses on the imagined possibility that a trans identity could be co-opted by abusive men, rather than the lived reality: that trans women routinely face violence, therefore urgently need access to safe spaces like cis women do. She also demonizes trans activists, saying women are “justifiably terrified” of them.

The CEO of Stonewall has stated that the UK, home of J.K Rowling, is an “unsafe, unwelcoming, and frightening place for trans people.” By portraying trans people themselves as unsafe and frightening, J.K Rowling has contributed to the stigma they face, which is why she is correctly recognized as transphobic.

Mandy (No)

Contrary to outraged assumptions, J.K. Rowling has never promoted any idea that trans individuals are unsafe, offensive, or even wrong in their trans identity. Instead, she has stood in solidarity with the LGBTQ community, even announcing in 2007 Dumbledore’s homosexuality. So what’s her great crime? The same as other feminists, such as Maya Forstater and Meghan Murphy, gays and lesbians, and even some trans people who dare assert the biological reality of sex and state the obvious – men are not women; sex is binary and immutable. Labeling Rowling, and others,’ factual belief in material reality as bigoted and transphobic is nothing but a silencing tactic activists use against anyone who disagrees. 

Anyone who reads Rowling’s letter or follows the women listed above can see they don’t ask questions to “harm” anyone in the trans community. Society once agreed: biology is not bigotry. And women speak up at significant risk to themselves. They have lost jobs, been no-platformed, endured threats, been sued, and seen safe spaces for women vandalized. For trans activists, unless someone fully embraces every tenant of their ever-expanding contradictory ideology, they are disgraced. In a free society, this is not fair – especially when the questions encompass real concerns, including concerns for the wellbeing of trans people.  

Whatever happened to the motto, “speak your truth?” As Rowling tweeted, “It isn’t hate to speak the truth.” The fact is, despite trans individuals claiming dissenters want to “erase” them, conflating sex and gender and reducing womanhood to a feeling or set of sexist stereotypes is the actual erasure happening. Rowling, like other women, are merely courageous enough to speak out about it.

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