J.K. Rowling disappoints fans with response to accusations of transphobia

Rowling’s comments come nearly half a year after a controversial tweet.


J.K. Rowling took to Twitter Saturday evening to respond to accusations that she harbors transphobic beliefs.

She didn’t help her case.

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,” Rowling said as part of a series of tweets. “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.”

Rowling’s comments came nearly six months after she tweeted in support of Maya Forstater, a woman who lost her job after allegedly making transphobic comments. Many decried that tweet, calling it hurtful, painful and disappointing.

Rowling spent the majority of 2019 staying out of the social media world but returned earlier this year in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, though she remained tight-lipped about criticisms of transphobia.

Saturday’s tweets started with a response to an opinion piece published on devex.com, which made reference to “people who menstruate.”

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” Rowling tweeted. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

She continued to defend her statements in the hour following her initial tweets.

“The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense,” she tweeted. “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Social media users, including many current and former Harry Potter fans, overwhelmingly condemned her comments.

“Truly, what was missing this week was some highly visible transphobia,” tweeted Melissa Anelli, author of Harry, A History and founder of Harry Potter fansite The Leaky Cauldron.

“I assure you, they do not love you back,” actress Mara Wilson wrote in response to Rowling saying, “I know and love trans people.”

“Authors in kid-lit are having a nuanced conversation about pay disparity in publishing and somehow it summoned J.K. Rowling and her fierce need to disappoint us,” author Eric Smith wrote.

Rowling’s tweets coincided with an online discussion about publishing among authors of color, amid days of protests for justice against racism and police brutality in America and around the world.

Editor's Note: For more insight into the trans community and its ties to Harry Potter, please see this  episode of PotterCast, ‘Sorting it Out with Jackson Bird.’ There are many resources available for transgender youth and adults in need. We recommend checking out these links from GLAAD and the National Center for Transgender Equality.
Saul Marquez founded Bookstacked in 2014 and serves as the site's Editor-in-Chief. He primarily covers news for Bookstacked. He also co-hosts Bookmarked: A YA Book Podcast.

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