JK Rowling has received an apology from a children’s news site after she threatened legal action over its claim that she had harmed transgender people.
On 10 June, The Day, a site aimed at schoolchildren, published an article under the headline “Potterheads cancel Rowling after trans tweet”.
It referenced the controversy stoked after Rowling took issue with the expression “people who menstruate” in a series of tweets, and then suggested that allowing individuals to self-identify their gender could pose a potential threat to cisgender women in an essay published to her personal site.
The Day article discussed the controversy, before asking readers to ponder whether it is still possible to enjoy works of art created by “deeply unpleasant people”, comparing Rowling to historic figures including Richard Wagner and Pablo Picasso.
It also referenced Rowling in relation to individuals who have participated in “harming minorities”.
In a statement, The Day has now apologised to Rowling after she hired libel lawyers.
“We accept that our article implied that what JK Rowling had tweeted was objectionable and that she had attacked and harmed trans people,” the statement reads. “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.”
Earlier this month, Rowling was among 150 public figures to sign an open letter condemning “cancel culture” and calling for “the possibility of good-faith disagreement without dire professional consequences”.