Skip to main content

If J.K. Rowling’s Women’s Shelter Turns Away Trans Women, Then it Isn’t Helping Women

JK Roling gives a sort of smug smile on the red carpet for secrets of dumbledore

JK Rowling has announced that she is funding a new support and counseling service for female survivors of sexual violence in Edinburgh. However, it’s been made clear that the center will only employ and serve cisgender women.

The new center, Beira’s Place, will work alongside official networking of sexual assault support in Scotland, such as Edinburgh Rape Crisis, currently run by a trans woman, Mridul Wadhwa.

The author has said that she wanted to set up the center because she believes there is an “unmet need for women” in the Edinburgh area.

“As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I know how important it is that survivors have the option of women-centered and women-delivered care at such a vulnerable time,” Rowling explained in a public statement.

Beira’s Place will be managed by two experienced specialists in rape crisis support, Isabelle Kerr and Susan Domminney. Kerr told the Guardian that sexual offenses “are gendered crimes that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and disproportionately experienced by women”.

“Beira’s Place recognizes that effective sexual violence services must be independent, needs-led, and provide responsive, women-centered services so that they are free from the pressure of current political agendas,” she continued.

While it’s true that Rape Crisis has been oversubscribed for several years, the organization has also suffered from transphobic attacks following its long-standing trans-inclusive policies.

“Because of our work to make Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre more trans-inclusive, the transphobia directed at our center has been very loud lately,” Rape Crisis wrote in a letter to its trans service users during Trans Awareness Week. “The threats are mainly online, the impact has been felt by both our staff and our clients. Sadly, we’re hearing from some of you that you’re afraid to come to the center in person.”

Such attacks are often led by so-called ‘gender-critical’ feminists, who have adopted Rowling as their figurehead. They see being assigned female at birth (AFAB) as a shared experience that is intrinsic to womanhood and will often not accept non-binary or trans identities. This has led to many calling for women-only spaces to be accessible only to AFAB people, as in the case of this crisis center.

“Rape crisis services across Scotland are experiencing huge demand for their services. This demand, combined with a lack of sustainable funding, is leading to some centres facing very difficult waiting lists,” Sandy Brindley, the chief executive of Rape Crisis Scotland told the Guardian. “In this demanding context, we of course welcome any new service which has in place rigorous safeguarding procedures and is staffed by highly trained professionals to support survivors of sexual violence.”

However, Brindley went on to reiterate that such spaces should cater to all women and non-binary people, not just cisgender women, highlighting that there is no evidence that such services have been used by people of marginalized genders.

“It is crucial that the life-saving support offered by rape crisis centres is available to trans and non-binary people,” she added. “All rape crisis services in Scotland offer support to trans women and have done so for 15 years. There has not been a single incident of anyone abusing this.”

This is only the latest action from Rowling in her fight to make the lives of trans people worse, after regularly taking to Twitter with her transphobic views. While so far her views have been contained to horrifically-timed threads during Pride, this is the first time that her TERF-ness has encroached into real-world spaces. Putting such restrictive access to vital support services like these is a disgusting example of what happens when views get radicalized enough.

As a Scottish resident, I can only be thankful for my trans neighbors that there are other services that still offer trans-inclusive support to those who need it. Rape Crisis Scotland offers a wealth of valuable services, including a hotline and several in-person centers.

(featured image: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images)

The Mary Sue has a strict comment policy that forbids, but is not limited to, personal insults toward anyone, hate speech, and trolling.—

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow The Mary Sue: