JK Rowling, the billionaire author of the Harry Potter series, recently filed a lawsuit against a children’s website.
The Day is a British-based publication that is approved by the Department of Education for teenagers. The site regularly publishes articles that are meant to inspire teens to discuss current events in the world around them.
However, JK apparently felt the site had overstepped its mission when it published a piece titled “Potterheads Cancel Rowling After Trans Tweet.”
In the piece, the authors asked teens to discuss and debate whether or not it’s acceptable to separate a person from their art; in other words, can one still enjoy Harry Potter if you disagree with JK Rowling’s recent statements about gender, transexual identity, and women?
The authors also discussed the so-called “cancel culture” and its effectiveness.
“Since the 1950s, the civil rights movement has used boycotts to take money and status away from people and organisations harming minorities and shame them into change [sic] their behaviour. Online it is often called ‘cancelling.'”
The site was also forced to issue an apology following the lawsuit: “We accept that our article implied that what JK Rowling had tweeted was objectionable and that she had attacked and harmed trans people. The article was critical of JK Rowling personally and suggested that our readers should boycott her work and shame her into changing her behaviour. Our intention was to provoke debate on a complex topic.”
“We did not intend to suggest that JK Rowling was transphobic or that she should be boycotted. We accept that our comparisons of JK Rowling to people such as Picasso, who celebrated sexual violence, and Wagner, who was praised by the Nazis for his antisemitic and racist views, were clumsy, offensive and wrong.”
“Debate about a complex issue where there is a range of legitimate views should have been handled with much more sensitivity and more obvious recognition of the difference between fact and opinion. We unreservedly apologise to JK Rowling for the offence caused, are happy to retract these false allegations and to set the record straight. We shall be making a financial contribution to a charity of JK Rowling’s choice.”
However, many around the world have taken offense following JK Rowling’s confusing, and often highly negative, views and thoughts about transgender people. And people aren’t having to guess at what the author believes, as she’s put it all out there publicly, both on Twitter and in published pieces defending her stance.
JK began stirring the pot in early July, when apropos of nothing she took to Twitter to explain how she feels about transgender people, their rights, and how we discuss sex and gender in general. JK was defending Maya Forstater, a British woman who was fired from her job after she allegedly repeatedly refused to use the correct pronouns when speaking to and about coworkers.
JK appears to see the backlash against Maya as an attack on our understanding of what biological sex is and is not. It wasn’t, as absolutely no one is erasing biological sex. The judge in Maya’s case recognized that she lost her job because she refused to change her own behavior, and that it was harmful to others.
He said, “It is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Maya’s legal team had tried to argue that “framing the question of transgender inclusion as an argument that male people should be allowed into women’s spaces discounts women’s rights to privacy and is fundamentally illiberal (it is like forcing Jewish people to eat pork).”
In other words, Maya appears to object to the idea that trans women are allowed in women’s spaces … a belief that is counter to a progressive view that trans women are women and should have access to all spaces that are for women. Maya had also previously tweeted that “men cannot change into women” and “it is unfair and unsafe for trans women to compete in women’s sport.”
JK has really doubled down on her own belief that Maya’s legal team is correct. She also penned her own essay in defense of herself, citing an “avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down” in support of her beliefs. In the essay, she attempted to explain that one reason she is not a proponent of trans rights is because, according to her, many who are born biologically female are transitioning to be male, and she believes that’s due to … misogyny.
“Most people probably aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t, until I started researching this issue properly – that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment.”
She goes on to blame groups of teens for a rise in rapid onset gender dysphoria, and she states that she herself suffered from mental health concerns that made her hate her body as a teen … and she appears to imply that that’s probably true for teen girls who transition to being male.
“As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgement that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens. Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are.”
She then veers into questionable territory and asserts that as a victim of domestic violence, she doesn’t believe trans women should be allowed into a space that women have claimed. This is a very dangerous belief to hold and to pass on to millions of people, because it sets up the idea that trans women are really just hoping to attack women. This kind of thinking is exclusionary and bigoted.
Writer AJ Sass recently explained one reason why JK Rowling’s comments have done so much harm.
“There’s no one right way to be transgender or nonbinary, and the path kids take to discover their identity varies widely. I thought I was a transgender man before realizing that I am nonbinary. I don’t know if I would’ve discovered my identity sooner if books featuring transgender or nonbinary characters had existed when I was a kid, but I can easily imagine the damage Rowling’s words would have caused me while I was still exploring my identity as a child. They’re just as harmful to transgender and nonbinary kids now.”