J.K. Rowling has found herself at the centre of yet another transphobia scandal as the Harry Potter author tweeted a picture of herself wearing a T-shirt with the inscription “This witch doesn't burn” and attaching to her post a link to the Wild Womyn Workshop.
“If you are (or know) a witch who wants one of these, don't buy from cynical chancers”, she messaged.
Although the text itself didn’t sound divisive, critics rushed to find fault with the website and Rowling’s promotion of it, charging that it ostensibly sells deeply transphobic products.
“How about considering supporting trans-inclusive organisations instead of incredibly transphobic ones?" one witter user asked, with a crowd of others hurrying to label the best-selling author a TERF, which stands for a pejorative “trans exclusionary radical feminist”.
“Words cannot express how disappointed I am in you”, another netizen summed up, whereas others posted images of badges from the website reading “f*** your pronouns” and blasting trans activism as “misogyny”.
A separate category of the site dedicated to “gender critical” items also reportedly sells a badge reading “dead men don't rape” in addition to stickers stating “trans-ideology erases women”.
Responding to the avalanche of critical remarks, Angela Wild, the owner of Wild Womyn Workshop, shared with the Daily Mail:
“Men are not women. No-one can change sex”. She went on to fume that these “simple statements” are undeservedly deemed as “transphobic and controversial”, whereas in actual fact they are not, she argued.
“If some people are offended by my products because they are triggered by biological reality I am sorry for them but it has got nothing to do with me”, the entrepreneur, who is herself a self-proclaimed lesbian feminist and a co-founder of the anti-trans separatist group Get the L Out, stated.
“Don't like my products? Don't buy them. It's not unlawful to tell the truth”, she went on with her rant.
Troubled Blood: What's in It
The fiery exchange came just days after a storm erupted over Rowling’s latest novel, “Troubled Blood”, in which a male serial killer slays his victims while donning women’s clothes. The case is investigated by detective Cormoran Strike.
The revelation about the cross-dressing man being the central figure in the book plot failed to sit well with swathes of social media users: they en masse rushed to accuse the writer of blatant transphobia. However, there were some that tended to be uneasy about the verbal attacks on the writer, rising in her defence.
Observer journalist Nick Cohen wrote: "I've read the latest Strike novel, and the claim it's anti-trans is total sh***".
"I can't tell you why it is total sh*** without giving away the ending. So until you read it yourself, which you should, you will just have to trust me: this is total sh***".
Divisive 'People Who Menstruate'
Just months earlier, in June, the Harry Potter creator also landed in her subscribers’ crosshairs after she jeered at an online article using the descriptive term “people who menstruate” instead of the word “women”.
“I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?'” she wrote at the time, drawing the ire of many.
The renowned author promptly penned a deeply personal and emotional essay to address the controversy, opening up on having been sexually assaulted in her 20s and saying she still feels the consequences of the “domestic violence” in her first marriage.
Yet a slew of stars, including Ron Weasley, actor Rupert Grint, Emma Watson who played Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter franchise, Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter, and Eddie Redmayne who stars in her Fantastic Beasts films, remained appalled by Rowling’s remarks.
Robbie Coltrane - who played Rubeus Hagrid in the movies – was one of the few who didn’t deem them as offensive, telling the Radio Times it’s all in people’s minds:
“I don't know why but there's a whole Twitter generation of people who hang around waiting to be offended”.