JK Rowling: Australian bookshop will no longer stock Harry Potter books amid transphobia row

Rowling has been widely criticised by LGBT+ activist groups for her remarks about transgender people

Louis Chilton
Wednesday 16 September 2020 14:49 BST
JK Rowling criticised over ‘transphobic’ tweet about menstruation.mp4

An independent Australian bookshop has said it will no longer stock JK Rowling’s Harry Potter series, in order to make the shop a “safer space” for customers. 

Rowling has been widely criticised by activists and fans for her remarks about transgender people, which have been viewed by many as harmful and transphobic. The author has denied making transphobic comments.

The author recently released a novel under her crime-writing pseudonym, Robert Galbraith, which was reported to feature a serial killer who disguises himself as a woman while hunting his female victims.

Troubled Blood, the latest in Rowling’s Strike series, was condemned by many LGBT+ groups for its apparent perpetuation of harmful misconceptions about cross-dressing, particularly in light of her past comments.

Perth bookshop Rabble Books and Games has now written on Facebook that it will “not put books by transphobes on the shelves”, and solicited suggestions for alternative fare to replace the popular wizard-themed novels.

“While stocking a book isn't an endorsement (good grief, that would be a minefield), and we will always take orders for books that aren't in stock, there are more worthy books to put on the shelf – books that don't harm communities and won't make us sad to unpack them,” a spokesperson wrote.

The shop also announced it would no longer sell new novels by Rowling, and would “phase out” the Harry Potter series.

It wrote: “We know that HP means a lot to a lot of people and that often you want to share them with the youngsters in your life. We will always be happy to order them in for you, as with any books we don’t stock. For any we do sell, we’ll be donating our profits to [Australian organisation TransFolk of WA].”

Last month, JK Rowling returned a human rights award from the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation in the wake of the backlash over her “transphobic” statements.

Previous recipients included Barack Obama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

Kerry Kennedy, the organisation’s president, said: “I have spoken with JK Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community.”

JK Rowling speaks onstage at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards, less than a year before she returned the award
JK Rowling speaks onstage at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards, less than a year before she returned the award (Getty Images)

Another member of the organisation claimed on Twitter that Rowling was actually “stripped” of the award, writing: “We were truly shocked when she started attacking trans people and immediately started the process to remove the award from her.”

“We did not stand by idly while Rowling attacked trans people for over a year. The process to remove the award is lengthy and has NEVER been done in our 50 year history.”

The controversy surrounding Rowling’s views on trans people dates back years. In 2017, the author’s representatives characterised Rowling’s “like” of a transphobic social media post as “a middle-aged moment”.

In June, Rowling tweeted in response to a post that used the phrase “people who menstruate”. She suggested that the writer should have used the term “women” instead. Rowling’s remarks failed to take into account the many non-binary people and trans men who menstruate, and the many women, including cisgender women, who do not.

Rowling then posted an essay on her personal website defending her position, which was opposed by Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe. The author was subsequently criticised for liking a tweet that pejoratively compared hormone therapy to anti-depressants.

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in