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JK Rowling Is Up to Her Transphobic Nonsense Once Again

Author JK Rowling and yet another transphobic tweet

Author JK Rowling has a net worth of over $1 billion—she’s richer than the Queen of England—and yet she seems to derive the most pleasure these days as a transphobic troll on Twitter. Go figure.

Rowling’s transphobia, which has long been known to those of us who are Very Online, burst into the wider public sphere in 2020. After transphobic tweets of Rowling’s were called out, she quintupled down and wrote what amounted to an anti-trans manifesto on her website that spanned several thousand words. There was a considerable backlash to this and widespread media coverage, but Rowling continues her transphobia unabated.

Maybe she’d rather be known for bigoted essays than work on screenplays for projects like the next Fantastic Beasts movie, after her last one was lambasted and the movie deemed nigh-on incomprehensible?

Frequent pleas from fans to show some sensitivity on the subject go unheard as Rowling seems to see herself as some sort of righteous crusader. Even after stars of Rowling-movie properties like Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Evanna Lynch, and Eddie Redmayne denounced her comments and supported trans rights, Rowling still operates in a sphere where she’s entirely in the right and persecuted for her “beliefs.”

This billionaire with a following on Twitter of more than 14 million people will never miss a chance to abuse the platform that fame built her. On July 15th, Rowling put a tweet by a trans man who had a few hundred followers on blast. LGBTQ Nation explains what sparked the situation:

The whole discussion started with Positive Birth Movement founder, author, and journalist Milli Hill, who got mean responses on Instagram when she said that obstetric violence – poor treatment and abuse directed at people giving birth, usually in a medical context – is only violence against women in response to someone else who wrote that obstetric violence affects trans men and non-binary people.

Hill wrote a long article about the ordeal. From her account, it doesn’t appear that she lost any paid work, faced physical violence, or got death threats. The comments she quoted in her piece called her “harmful,” “vile,” and “transphobic.” A few said they would discourage others from buying her books. She also reiterated that patriarchy is “a system that oppresses and damages women on the basis of their sex,” which she stressed meant “sex as in biological sex,” as if trans women aren’t oppressed by patriarchy.

She put the title “I will not be silenced” on top of the article – because of course – and then @ftmlorastyrell on Twitter wrote a short and polite response to her.

This prompted a polite response to Hill from a trans man on Twitter, who wrote, “You obviously haven’t learned from the response J.K. Rowling got from her post. You aren’t incorrect that obstetric violence is sex-based. But how difficult is it to acknowledge that not everyone who is capable of giving birth identifies with the female or woman label?”

Apparently Rowling has nothing better to do than scroll Twitter searching for mentions of her name and anything having to do with gender. She even seems to have taken the time to screengrab the original exchange. Rowling ignores the massive international criticism she received for her public transphobia, instead claiming that she’s seen a “tsunami” of support in its wake as an apparent justification to stay the course.

Beyond Rowling’s continued grossness and torching of her legacy, the most mind-boggling thing here is that she views herself as a champion for women. Yet her constant victimhood in this regard is regressive, and she and her supporters are not advocating for women, but for bigotry and exclusion.

A particularly virulent strain of trans-exclusionary so-called “feminism” has taken hold in Britain. To better understand this, I always point people to the excellent opinion piece in The New York Times by Sophie Lewis, “How British Feminism Became Anti-Trans.” But Rowling being caught up in a nasty cultural movement in her place of birth is no excuse for her behavior. She’s a public figure with huge reach and influence, and she is causing active harm. With her every action, she feeds this exclusionary rhetoric and stokes its dangerous flames.

For what it’s worth, cis women who aren’t persuaded by Rowling and her ilk’s obsession with nonexistent “female erasure” will have no part in Rowling claiming to advocate for them.

And where is JK Rowling, bold crusader, when anything actually awful happens?

It’s unreal to me that JK Rowling continues to see herself as both a victim and some kind of suffering martyr for her cause. Rather than examine why “the response to her post” was so vocally against her transphobic claims, like the most practiced of trolls, telling her that she’s wrong only seems to encourage her. The supportive emails she says she receives from her fellows are more important than the unabashed harm she is causing to trans people every time her Twitter finger gets itchy.

No champion who fancies themselves on the side of good gleefully hurts innocent parties. One might think that the author of Harry Potter would know that.

If there’s any positive takeaway from Rowling’s latest dogpiling, it’s that those she targets get to show us what actual bravery and perseverance look like. The young trans man she retweeted has been keenly engaged in the ongoing conversation and now has in his bio, “the man the myth the legend behind THAT jkr tweet.”

(image: Rob Stothard / Stringer / Getty Images, Twitter)

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Kaila Hale-Stern (she/her) is a content director, editor, and writer who has been working in digital media for more than fifteen years. She started at TMS in 2016. She loves to write about TV—especially science fiction, fantasy, and mystery shows—and movies, with an emphasis on Marvel. Talk to her about fandom, queer representation, and Captain Kirk. Kaila has written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.