This blog contains mentions of transphobia and sexual assault.
JK Rowling is evil. If she wasn’t already destined to be confined in the deepest pits of hell, I’d even suggest they create a tenth layer just for her.
After 24 years and counting of the massive cult success that is Harry Potter, Rowling has racked up a whopping total of 13.9 million followers on Twitter — those to whom she consistently feeds loads of transphobic and generally offensive sentiments. In June of 2020, Rowling published a blog on her website entitled “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues” (initially called TERF Wars), which has stirred up quite mixed reviews from both people with and without brains alike. I read JK Rowling’s ‘Transphobic Manifesto’, so you don’t have to. Here is the rundown:
The entire beginning section of the blog is essentially a sob story about being ‘cancelled’ for liking transphobic media online. She tells a brief story about how she followed a person named Magdalen Berns on twitter, who very openly tweeted sentiments about how lesbians should not be called “bigots” for not dating trans women because they still have penises. This argument — if you can even call it that — has been used against trans people for decades as a tactic to demonize those who identify as trans and pit members of the same community against each other.
This is the type of stuff Berns was posting when Rowling gave her a follow:
Rowling then goes on to explain that she has been deemed a TERF (Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist) by trans rights activists — referring to the term as a slur used against women. Out of all the blatant transphobic remarks she makes throughout this awful op-ed, one of the worst may just be when she wrote: “Ironically, radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary – they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.” Not only is this invalidating trans men by including them in her long, unwarranted rant about trans women, but it also invalidates trans women by not including their identities within the confines of feminism. Double hitter for Ms. Rowling.
As if it couldn’t get any worse, Rowling shares her very “personal” concerns about the “huge explosion in young women wishing to transition” and also about the “increasing numbers who seem to be de-transitioning.” In this, she is trying to mask her hatred for transgender people by saying it is out of concern for women.
These so-called increasing numbers of people ‘de-transitioning’ are blatantly false. A UK survey of a gender identity clinic found that only 16 people out of the 3,398 surveyed (0.47%) experienced regret related to transitioning. Another survey in the US found that only 8% out of the 28,000 people tested reported some sort of de-transition, and out of that 8%, 62% did so temporarily. If Rowling was actually “doing her own research” as she stated early in her manifesto, she would have been aware that her facts were entirely inaccurate. Once again, JK Rowling is feeding garbage to her mindless readers simply because she can.
The next portion of the rant explains how parents online were seeing an unusual amount of entire friend groups identifying as transgender at the same time, calling it an “insulated echo chamber.” I think it’s kind of beautiful how JK Rowling has discovered the idea of having friends right in front of our eyes.
While simultaneously calling inclusive language alienating and referring to cis women as “natal girls,” Rowling tells the story of her own sexual assault from her first marriage. The reason as to why she included being a survivor of sexual abuse is still unclear, but I imagine it has something to do with protecting women in spaces where “men” are making them unsafe.
She uses the very common example of which many are aware: allowing trans women into women’s restrooms is dangerous for cis women because any man could lie and say they are trans. This comparison is particularly offensive for multiple reasons. The narrative that transgender people are sexual predators has been used as a reason to vilify trans people for a long time. From legislation to mainstream media, this idea has been a primary reason trans people’s lives are at a higher risk than any other member of the LGBTQ community. Additionally, grouping sexual abuse survivors in with her disgusting transphobic ideology is insulting to say the least. JK Rowling is not the ally she makes herself out to be.
And the kicker? In September of 2020, JK Rowling published a novel called “Troubled Blood,” which has a subplot of a cross-dressing murderer luring in victims by wearing feminine clothing. Most recently, three transgender activists posted a photo protesting in front of her mansion, and she responded by stating that they have doxed her and put her life in danger by revealing her address online. An address that has a whole Wikipedia page dedicated to it and has been available to the public for some time now. To this, I raise the question: was she offended that her address was posted online, by tourist guides, or by the papers, or rather was it that her house was in the background of a trans person’s photo?
So why is this all important? Why do we care so much about what JK Rowling has to say?
The simple answer is that we shouldn’t care. The more complicated answer is that we care because we have to. Rowling seems to believe that her making transphobic remarks online isn’t killing anyone, but the reality is that approximately 375 trans people have been murdered in 2021, making this year the ‘deadliest year’ since records began. Most victims were Black and migrant trans women of color and trans sex workers.
As unfortunate as it is, JK Rowling is influential. With millions of followers across her social media platforms, many of them being young people, Rowling has the ability to reach quite far when it comes to spreading her pedagogy. Imagine the young trans kid who loves the magic and whimsy of the Harry Potter series finding their favorite author online and seeing dehumanizing comments cover the page. The facts are that 42% of trans youth considered attempting suicide in the last year. The facts don’t change just because you don’t believe they’re true.
The overlapping societal pains that are white feminists and TERFs are extremely harmful for several reasons — all of them having something to do with safety. Excluding women of color, trans women, and really any other person from feminism counteracts the goals of feminism itself.
The purpose of feminism is a true equality — not superiority of one identity over another. Real feminism includes everyone because everyone is effected by inequality and injustice. Cis white women, like our best friend JK Rowling, have been putting communities disproportionately at risk for far too long. Feminism is for everyone.