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A Timeline of J.K. Rowling’s Transphobic Behavior

Accio criticism!

J.K. Rowling gives a tense smile on a red carpet

Accio criticism! J.K. Rowling has been receiving a lot of well-deserved flak lately. As a trans person, I’m here for it. Her capacity for nonsense is as boundless as the Forbidden Forest. I mean, she’s opening a women’s resources center in Edinburgh that literally turns away trans women! That’s like opening a halfway house for wayward Hogwarts students and then turning away all the Gryffindors! I guess that’s why she’s interested in making a “halfway house” anyway, because it’s only halfway useful. Sure, it’s good that she’s trying to start an organization that “helps women,” but if it turns away certain women then it’s really not “helping women” after all?

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Personally, I think she needs to take her ass to Platform 9 and 3/4 and walk into a couple walls. Maybe that’ll get her head back on straight.

But I digress …

So, how did all of this so-called controversy start? Where is it going? When will it end? And what can YOU do to stop it? All this and more I shall explain.

When did this unfortunate business begin?

When every other unfortunate thing happened: In the year 2020.

Instead of minding her own business and playing around in a castle with her oodles and oodles of moneybags, J.K. Rowling decided to hop on Twitter in June 2020 to retweet an op-ed that included the phrase “people who menstruate.” Rather than realize that this language was intended to be more inclusive to trans men and nonbinary people, Rowling instead wrote, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” It was a tone deaf attempt to criticize the verbiage of the piece.

The internet was not impressed.

The backlash was immediate. Scores of LGBTQ people and allies commented on the post to express their outrage at what appeared to be a refusal on Rowling’s part to acknowledge the existence of menstruating people who fall outside the normative gender spectrum. Rather than walk her statement back, Rowling doubled down: “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,” she wrote. I immediately question who in the trans community she claims to “know and love” because she sure has a funny way of showing it.

Rowling went on to further explain her point of view: “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—i.e., to male violence—‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences—is a nonsense.”

She continued: “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.”

At best, her statement is well-intentioned but ignorant. At worst, it’s textbook transphobia that has been sugarcoated so that it appears to be a reasonable point of view. Whatever—she’s old and rich and out of touch. We can just sweep her under the rug and be done with it, right?

Then she started calling herself a TERF.

For the uninitiated, “TERF” is an acronym that stands for Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. It is an ideology that seeks to divorce transgender issues from feminism, arguing that trans people are harmful to the pursuit of female empowerment and gender equality. Rowling solidified her relationship with TERF ideologies by publishing a lengthy post on her website and sending out a tweet that read “TERF Wars.” We’re at war with trans people now, are we J.K.? Again, for a woman who “loves” trans people, you REALLY have a funny way of showing it.

It hasn’t stopped

Rowling may have started posting transphobia on main in 2020 but she hasn’t slowed down in the years since. In fact, she’s only gotten more direct in her attacks on trans people, and specifically trans women. On October 17, 2023, she posted an image of a projection reading “Repeat after us: Trans women are women.” She captioned it simply, “No.”

It’s incredible that there are people out there still claiming she’s not really transphobic, she’s just “asking questions” or whatever their defense of the moment may be.

I mean, she can’t really make her stance on the matter much clearer, can she?

How did the entertainment industry respond?

With shock and horror, thankfully.

All-around Best Boy Daniel Radcliffe was the first member of the Harry Potter franchise to condemn Rowling’s statements. In a conversation with the Trevor Project, he said:

“I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in-fighting between J.K. Rowling and myself, but that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now. While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment. Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”

His fellow cast members were quick to echo Rowling’s statements. Emma Watson shared a tweet in which she said, “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. I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you, and love you for who you are.” Rupert Grint expressed a similar sentiment in an interview with the Sunday Times, in which he proclaimed that “trans women are women” and “trans men are men.” Bonnie Hyde, the actor who played Ginny Weasley, expressed her support for trans people in a tweet, while Eddie Redmayne, who stars in Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them, condemned Rowling’s behavior in an interview with Variety.

So, Rowling learned her lesson, right?

Wrong. Despite HARRY POTTER HIMSELF taking (Dolores) umbrage with Rowling’s reprehensible statements, she just went right on ahead and kept making them. She was called out by a user on Twitter after liking a tweet that compared hormone usage to taking antidepressants. Rowling then accused the user who called her out of “crossing a line” for “lying” about what she believed about “mental health medication” and “misrepresenting the views” of trans women, for whom she felt “nothing but admiration and solidarity.” Oh, J.K., you already crossed that line AGES ago. We’re honestly just following along at this point. She went on to express typical transphobic concerns, including that “health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests. Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation [sic] that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”

Rowling then continued rambling to further explain the “dangers” of hormone therapy, as if trans people hadn’t ever bothered to do our own research. Yes, J.K., trans people ARE in fact aware of the medical complications that can on occasion arise from hormone therapy. Some of the effects of hormone therapy can be harmful to trans people. But do you know what else can be harmful to trans people? NOT TAKING HORMONES. Being unable to access gender-affirming medical care puts transgender people at increased risk of depression, suicide, and all the things that YOU CLAIM TO WANT TO “PROTECT” TRANS PEOPLE FROM IN THE FIRST PLACE. And J.K., no one gets converted into being trans. They simply are trans. Just like you weren’t converted into being an asshole—apparently you’ve been an asshole this whole time.

And then she started writing more books

Oh, where do I begin? Where do I even begin? No doubt wounded from her well-deserved backlash, Rowling decided to pen a mystery novel titled Troubled Blood about a detective on the hunt for a cis male killer who dresses as a woman in order to murder cis women. OH WOW. WONDER WHERE SHE GOT THE INSPIRATION FOR THAT? MAYBE FROM THE FUCKED UP LITTLE FANTASY FACTORY SHE CALLS HER MIND. She’s really begun to market herself as some sort of martyr—a beleaguered intellectual who refuses to be silenced for her radical and “true” ideas. I would really LOVE to hear what the trans people she claims to “know and love” think about this literary dumpster fire.

Seeking to augment her own mythos, Rowling subsequently penned a book titled The Ink Black Heart under her pen name, Robert Galbraith. The book is a thousand-page-long tome that concerns a YouTube-based cartoonist whose creations are deemed racist, transphobic, and ableist. The cartoonist is then doxxed, threatened with rape and death, and finally stabbed to death in a cemetery. The grim plot alone sounds like some sort of knock-off Stephen King novel, but not even King himself would be a fan. In response to Rowling’s transphobic rantings, King simply tweeted “trans women are women” and then told The Daily Beast that Rowling “blocked [him].”

At this point, J.K. Rowling, like any writer, is writing what she knows. The irony is that while she knows the internet is not pleased with her point of view, she doesn’t seem to understand why. The billionaire has taken it upon herself to write her own story in which she casts herself as the victim. In Rowling’s mind, she has suffered the most, while the world’s most vulnerable community has done nothing but continue to heap undue suffering upon her. If only she could take a Polyjuice potion and switch places with a trans person for just one day. Then she’d be able to see just how good she is at writing works of fiction after all.

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

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Jack Doyle
Jack Doyle (they/them) is actually nine choirs of biblically accurate angels in crammed into one pair of $10 overalls. They have been writing articles for nerds on the internet for less than a year now. They really like anime. Like... REALLY like it. Like you know those annoying little kids that will only eat hotdogs and chicken fingers? They're like that... but with anime. It's starting to get sad.

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