Leaving Magic Behind, JK Rowling Embraces Transphobia

Leaving Magic Behind, JK Rowling Embraces Transphobia

“Harry Potter” author JK Rowling continued her track record of voicing anti-transgender sentiments on December 19 when she rushed to the defense of a researcher who is out of a job after posting numerous transphobic tweets.

A tweet from Rowling focused on Maya Forstater, whose contract with the think tank Center for Global Development was not renewed after she posted tweets saying things like, “Transwomen are transwomen. That’s Great. But enforcing the dogma that transwomen are women is totalitarian.” Forstater’s transphobic tweets have largely been directed at a trans rights bill introduced in the United Kingdom.

Rowling responded to the decision not to renew Forstater’s contract, tweeting, “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”

Forstater has also tweeted false statements that disregard intersex individuals and disrespect non-binary individuals. In a December 18 tweet, she wrote, “There are two sexes. Men are male. Women are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life.”

Forstater tried mounting a legal challenge to the company’s decision not to renew her contract, but a London employment tribunal confirmed that the statements she made were not protected under the law.

Forstater’s beliefs are consistent with a growing group of transphobic individuals, emerging in big numbers from the UK, who do not believe in transgender rights and have constantly sought to undercut trans people and trans rights. These folks have also been known as gender-critical feminists and trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFS). They have turned to aggressive tactics such as when they barged into a meeting earlier this year to harass the Human Rights Campaign’s national press secretary Sarah McBride and deliberately misgender her.

It would not be the first time Rowling’s name has been tied to transphobia, but it represents the most explicit example. As pointed out by journalist Katelyn Burns, Rowlings has liked anti-trans tweets, including in 2017 when she liked a tweet linking to a transphobic Medium.com piece and in 2018 when she liked a tweet that described trans women as “men in dresses.”

Rowling’s latest tweet drew widespread criticism from individuals and groups across the LGBTQ community. GLAAD, a media monitoring organization promoting LGBTQ causes, announced that Rowling turned down their offer to facilitate an off-the-record conversation with people in the trans community.

ACT UP New York tore into Rowling on Twitter, writing, “JK Rowling, you are a TERF. Your violent denial of trans and non-binary existence is gravely disappointing yet unsurprising to our siblings who saw this coming.”

Chase Strangio, a trans man who is a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union, said he was not surprised to read Rowling’s tweet.

“Powerful British cis white woman aligns with power to exert violence over trans women,” he said in a Twitter post. “Call me not shocked. Never liked Harry Potter anyway.”

Human Rights Campaign president Alphonso David demanded an apology from Rowling.

“@jk_rowling says she’s opposed to fundamentalism in any form, but she’s promoting a harmful fundamentalism that endangers the LGBTQ community — particularly transgender youth,” he wrote in a tweet.

Rowling has not followed up with any further tweets since her post went viral.