Shameless transphobes and where to find them

October 28, 2020 — by Christopher Chen
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For an author of a children’s book on acceptance, J.K. Rowling is shockingly bigoted.

“Sometimes a T-shirt just speaks to you…” author J.K. Rowling tweeted on Sept. 22. The shirt in question, stocked by the radical feminist store Wild Womyn Workshop, reads “This witch doesn’t burn,” implying Rowling’s approval of the store’s merchandise. The store also stocks pins reading “Biology isn’t bigotry” and “F*CK your pronouns.” For $4, you can buy their sticker pack proudly proclaiming “Trans activism is misogyny.”

Rowling is the author of the famous “Harry Potter” series, seven books detailing the journey of a young wizard caught in a war over blood purity that had an astounding impact on children’s literature. The series preaches acceptance and inclusivity, clearly marking blood purists, people who believed in the superiority of a pure magical bloodline, whose ideology reflects eugenics, as “the evil group.”

Despite the message of inclusivity, her books don’t contain much diversity. The few instances the books have come off as stereotypical, like her naming of Cho Chang. Cho Chang’s name is essentially two last names from two different languages, reflecting an ignorance of Asian culture and clear stereotyping, especially considering that Cho Chang is part of Ravenclaw, the house of the smartest wizards. Readers were also excited at LGBTQ+ representation in Lupin, whose status as a werewolf seemed to reference the HIV/AIDS pandemic, or in Dumbledore, only to be disappointed on both counts. Dumbledore was already confirmed as a gay character and received no mention of it in the Fantastic Beasts series.

Yet in addition to passive stereotyping and limited diversity, Rowling has also supported Magdalen Berns and Maya Forstater, radical feminists and transphobic public figures. To give a snippet of their thoughts, Magdalen believes that trans women are “blackface actors,” not “real” women, derogating them as perverts who enjoyed being treated like women. 

Forstater is a contractor whose purposeful misgendering of coworkers in the workplace led to her contract being revoked and her receiving waves of online backlash. Rowling tweeted in her defense, “… But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill,” suggesting that she viewed the situation as Forstater being punished for telling the truth.

Forstater saying that biology exists is pointlessly contrary. Trans people don’t deny that. Their sex is what it is, and their gender is a separate concept. We should refer to them with their correct pronouns out of human decency.

Rowling’s most recent book, “Troubled Blood,” was published under the pen name Robert Galbraith and includes a serial killer who lures his female victims by crossdressing as a woman. This has been interpreted by many as another jab at trans women by implying they only transition in order to sexually harass women in women-only spaces like segregated bathrooms. 

This led to the #RIPJKRowling hashtag on Twitter, implying she had killed her career. Evidently, she had not killed her career, as seen by waves of staunch supporters outraged by the hashtag, which they perceived as a “death threat.” A letter signed as a petition by nearly 20,000 people was written to show solidarity for J.K. Rowling. The entire situation was disappointing and upsetting — an entire mass of people sympathizing with the bully and not the group of people she condemned. It was yet another reminder of the bigotry and close-mindedness widely accepted today.

Rowling’s transphobia seems to stem from an outdated and bigoted belief that if the experiences and rights of trans women are accepted, then the experiences and rights of cis women will be diminished, as if they were two separate goals and not just one goal, women’s rights, that we should strive for.

The backlash has led to a running joke that the Harry Potter books were written by someone else, like virtual character Hatsune Miku or singer Brittney Spears. However, even though her actions are offensive, we shouldn’t remove her association from the series. Many other authors we read today hold viewpoints that are offensive today, like Ernest Hemingway’s antisemitism or H.P. Lovecraft’s racism. We can’t ignore Rowling’s contributions to youth literaturesociety, but we shouldn’t ignore her bigotry as well. They’re two completely different facets of her life, but it is unfair and incorrect to ignore one in favor of the other. 

Rowling attempted to justify her actions poorly in a June 2020 blog post riddled with miscited statistics and fear mongering. I found most of her arguments laughably ridiculous. 

In one section, she wrote, “Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They’re afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods and of violence.”

She somehow suggests that it’s the transphobic group she supports that is threatened by the trans community, a group that faces stigma in nearly all facets of their lives. She then went as far as to say she supported trans rights.

“It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow,” Rowling wrote.

If Rowling truly believes trans rights are human rights, then she should prove it. All she has shown so far is support for the very people who attack trans women and a penchant for playing the victim.

The Harry Potter series was one of my favorites to read when growing up, as with many other people, and it’s honestly disappointing to see that one of my childhood idols has turned out to be such a despicable person. It’s hard to enjoy the series’ magical world again, knowing the true thoughts and actions of its creator.


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