J.K. Rowling has fought back at accusations of transphobia in an essay published Wednesday stating why she is so concerned about "toxic" trans-activism, and igniting a new debate and loads of criticism.
"I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity", Rowling started her 4,000-plus word explanatory letter.
The 54-year-old author of the best-selling "Harry Potter" books detailed what she said were the five reasons why she felt the personal need to speak out on the issue, after she drew criticism for upbraiding an aticle that refused to use the term "women", instead using "people who menstruate".
Some of the reasons were "both education and safeguarding" and "freedom of speech”, but also, she said, her interest in trans issues stemmed from her being a survivor of domestic abuse.
Explaining the final reason, she pointed out:
"I've been in the public eye now for over 20 years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor". She stressed that she has hitherto kept silent not because of shame for "those things happening to me" but because of the trauma they gave her when being "revisited and remembered".
"I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn't want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too", she said further stating that after she asked her child about going public with it, she encouraged her to do so.
"I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who've been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces", Rowling summed up her motives.
Rowling says in her latest essay she "will not bow down" to those sending "abuse" her way online, adding that she has serious concerns about "trans activism".
"I know transition will be a solution for some gender dysphoric people, although I’m also aware through extensive research that studies have consistently shown that between 60-90 percent of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria", the best-selling author wrote.
The writer has on several occasions been branded a TERF (a trans-exclusionary radical feminist). Incidentally, what the latest row started with was the writer’s tweet, in which she questioned a story that referred to "people who menstruate", declining to name such people "women".
"I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?", she queried, with critics immediately accusing her of transphobia.
Rowling, however, said she is set to stand by her comments, charging it "isn't hate to speak the truth".
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.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
Among those who promptly expressed their antipathy to the claims were quite a few actors, along with many from the general public.
Daniel Radcliffe, the star of the Harry Potter film series, and Eddie Redmayne, who leads the cast of the Fantastic Beasts movies, have both criticised Rowling for her comments about transgender issues.
"Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren't who they say they are", struck back Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the Potter movies.
"Anyone who thinks JK Rowling has a good or smart point of view is a huge f**king moron", columnist Beth McColl tweeted.
Many more echoed the stance:
Honestly I feel this still accurately sums up my feelings on J.K. Rowling, the only difference between then and now is she’s not even trying to hide her transphobia anymore. #TransWomenareWomen #TransMenAreMen #NonBinaryIsValid https://t.co/AWDejFa7Eo— Alex Paget 🇪🇺 (@AlexPaget12) June 11, 2020
A bit surprised by just how many people in my feed are relaying & amplifying JK Rowling's latest transphobic nonsense.— julian scholtes 🇪🇺 (@jscholt) June 11, 2020
If you find yourself convinced or intrigued by her "arguments", here are some twitter threads that I hope will convince you otherwise.
I'm horrified+enraged that JK Rowling isn't just openly a TERF now, but using autistic people as pawns. I'm autistic. I'm openly nonbinary and transmasculine. I was not brainwashed or manipulated into being trans. That's just rank, disgusting ableism on top of anti-trans hate.— Lydia X. Z. Brown (@autistichoya) June 10, 2020
However, some spoke out in Rowling's defence:
Transphobia is what the trans activists call any women who stand up for women's rights. All power to JK Rowling for speaking out.— Brenda Ellis (@sapphitweet) June 11, 2020
In December of last year, Rowling hit the headlines when she backed a researcher who was sacked after tweeting that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.
A key differentiation in the fierce debate about transgenders and misogyny in society is centred around the words "sex" and "gender". Sex, which is physical - male or female - is separated by many from gender, which is deemed as a psychological and social feature.