Has the world's most powerful TERF finally murdered her career?
J.K. Rowling's anti-trans agenda has been well-documented.
Her bigoted statements have provoked waves of #IStandWithJKRowling hashtags—as well a backlash of #RIPJKRowling satirizing the death of her career. Then there's the recent announcement of Rowling's latest book:
JK Rowling's latest book is about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims https://t.co/LfryjntLzk— PinkNews (@PinkNews) 1600096080.0
The Harry Potter author has even returned a human rights award given to her by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKH) organization last year. The Ripple of Hope award is meant to honor an individual's "commitment to social change," and at the time Rowling said it was "one of the highest honours I've ever been given." Rowling returned the award after the president of the organization and Robert Kennedy's daughter, Kerry Kennedy, publicly criticized Rowling's anti-trans rhetoric. Kennedy wrote that Rowling's comments have "had the effect of degrading trans people's lived experiences."
In a statement, Rowling wrote, "I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience."In response, people revealed what they do and clearly don't know about trans experience and the harm regressive rhetoric inflicts on marginalized communities.
in memory of jk rowling. she ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people & no one woul… https://t.co/c9YdesjIO5— patback (@patback) 1600100007.0
#IStandWithJKRowling @jk_rowling How many trans women were murdered in USA so far during 2020 due to transphobia?… https://t.co/dVE1w1OFVg— VictoriafromNewham (@VictoriafromNewham) 1598620990.0
Prior to this, Rowling made headlines for her anti-trans agenda when she released a diatribe in the form of an 11-tweet thread. On July 5th, Rowling liked a tweet that compared hormone prescriptions to antidepressants and commented, "Hormone prescriptions are the new anti depressants. Yes they are sometimes necessary and lifesaving, but they should be a last resort. Pure laziness for those who would rather medicate than put in the time and effort to heal people's minds."
After people jumped in to defend medication, Rowling erupted in a thread that began: "I've ignored fake tweets attributed to me and RTed widely. I've ignored p-rn tweeted at children on a thread about their art. I've ignored death and rape threats. I'm not going to ignore this." (Her comments prompted many to observe the irony of the fact that Rowling was willing to ignore p-rn but not someone criticizing her anti-trans views).
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"I've written and spoken about my own mental health challenges, which include OCD, depression and anxiety," tweeted Rowling. "I did so recently in my essay 'TERF Wars'. I've taken anti-depressants in the past and they helped me." But then she launched into another attack, writing, "Many 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," and arguing that hormone therapy is a "new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function."
There is certainly some truth embedded in Rowling's words: It's true that many people are over-medicated and that medication is often used as a substitute for therapy. But medication is often lifesaving, especially for people who can't afford the expensive therapy sessions or self-care tactics available to the well-endowed–or for anyone with an actual chemical imbalance in their brains.
It's also unfortunate that, as Rowling states in her essay, she has received extensive online abuse for making her opinions known. But on the other hand, Rowling is attacking a community that should, at the very least, be speaking for themselves.
Rowling's most recent tweets veer into the territory of the truly bizarre when she compares gender transitions to "conversion therapy," a widely debunked and cruel practice intended to change someone's sexual orientation from queer to heterosexual. Conversion therapy programs attempt to change people's sexualities to fit other people's bigoted, pre-existing ideas. By that logic alone, gender transitions are the opposite of conversion therapy, in that they are always instigated by a person's choice and desire to live authentically.
While conversion therapy has a clear track record of inspiring mental illness and suicide, only around 4% of people who undergo surgery regret their choices. On the other hand, surgery can be lifesaving.
As Munroe Bergdorf, a transgender model and activist, wrote: "J.K. Rowling is not a scientist. She is not a doctor. She is not an expert on gender. She is not a supporter of our community. She is a billionaire, cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who has decided that she knows what is best for us and our bodies. This is not her fight," She added, "She is a billionaire, cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who has decided that she knows what is best for us and our bodies. This is not her fight."
Bergdorf's comments get to the roots of what's so deeply strange about Rowling's decision to pick anti-trans activism as *the* issue that she needs to pursue. It's clear that Rowling's concerns aren't only about over-medicalization or trans kids. She's also against trans women using women's bathrooms or entering women's spaces, and seems set on minimizing the concerns of an at-risk community.
J.K. Rowling is not a scientist. She is not a doctor. She is not an expert on gender. She is not a supporter of our… https://t.co/wYxR7J9Raq— Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾 (@Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾) 1593983423.0
If you want to know what is best for trans people. Listen to trans people. More specifically, listen to black tran… https://t.co/cc0HJ1hIzs— Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾 (@Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾) 1593983423.0
Something about JK Rowling's open anti-trans rhetoric feels especially saddening because of how beloved her books are to so many people, particularly vulnerable kids who felt they did not belong in the world they were born into. Harry Potter's journey from hiding from an abusive family to finding a whole world of magic resonated with many people who were seeking communities other than the restrictive ones they grew up in.
In the world of Harry Potter, characters transition, metamorphose, and shapeshift constantly. Though there's no explicit queerness in the books, the culture that grew out of Harry Potter is deeply queer. Harry Potter fan-fiction played a role in helping many youths discover their queerness, and fandoms often formed chosen families just like characters in the books did.
Perhaps in part for this reason, many Harry Potter fandoms and websites have distanced themselves from JK Rowling, maintaining that the books can exist autonomously from their author's viewpoints. Two of the largest Harry Potter sites online, MuggleNet and the Leaky Cauldron, have posted joint statements about Rowling that read:
"Although it is difficult to speak out against someone whose work we have so long admired, it would be wrong not to use our platforms to counteract the harm she has caused. Our stance is firm: Transgender women are women. Transgender men are men. Non-binary people are non-binary. Intersex people exist and should not be forced to live in the binary. We stand with Harry Potter fans in these communities, and while we don't condone the mistreatment JKR has received for airing her opinions about transgender people, we must reject her beliefs."
so we’re all agreeing that jk rowling didn’t write harry potter and harry potter has nothing to do with her and her… https://t.co/tIMzHl1iDZ— gabriella ✨ (@gabriella ✨) 1594038100.0
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