Stay up to date with notifications from The Independent

Notifications can be managed in browser preferences.

Liveupdated1677054100

JK Rowling podcast – latest: Author dismisses concerns trans backlash will harm her legacy

The Harry Potter author shrugged off concerns about her legacy saying ‘Whatever. I’ll be dead’

Thomas Kingsley,Inga Parkel,Tom Murray
Wednesday 22 February 2023 08:21 GMT
‘I never set out to upset anyone’: JK Rowling speaks out over trans controversy in podcast teaser

JK Rowling has dismissed concerns that her views on transgender people will damage her legacy.

The first two episodes of a new podcast featuring JK Rowling have aired where she addresses her traumatic miscarriage, Harry Potter and her controversial remarks on transgender issues.

When asked by interviewer Megan Phelps-Roper about her legacy in the podcast titled The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, the Harry Potter author said she doesn’t think about it.

“I think you could not have misunderstood me more profoundly. I do not walk around my house thinking about my legacy, what a pompous way to live your life thinking about what my legacy will be. Whatever! I’ll be dead, I care about now, the living.”

Phelps-Roper is the granddaughter of Fred Phelps – pastor of the notorious Westboro Baptist Church. After leaving the church in 2012, Phelps-Roper became a prominent critic of its philosophy and practices.

1677049529

What has JK Rowling said to upset people?

You can read a timeline of Rowling’s comments about women and transgender rights here.

A timeline of JK Rowling’s comments about women and transgender rights

Harry Potter author is taking part in a podcast where she will discuss her stance with Megan Phelps-Roper

Tom Murray22 February 2023 07:05
1677045629

Is Hogwarts Legacy connected to JK Rowling?

With the highly anticipated release of the video game Hogwarts Legacy on 10 February, there has been some hestitancy among a number of gamers as to whether or not buying the game supports JK Rowling and her anti-trans sentiments.

However, according to the game’s official website: “JK Rowling is not involved in the creation of the game.”

In fact, Hogwarts Legacy introduced the first transgender character to the iconic wizarding world.

Read more here:

Hogwarts Legacy introduces first transgender character in Harry Potter world

Warner Bros’ highly anticipated video game releases Friday 10 February

Tom Murray22 February 2023 06:00
1677042029

Rowling described sneaking Harry Potter manuscript out of home while preparing to leave husband

Rowling opened up about her marriage to Portuguese journalist Jorge Arantes in the first episode of the podcast.

She recalled sneaking the Harry Potter manuscript out of the house as she prepared to leave him for the third time as she feared he might destroy it.

“He knew what that manuscript meant to me, because at a point, he took the manuscript and hid it, and that was his hostage,” she said. “When I realised that I was going to go – this was it, I was definitely going – I would take a few pages of the manuscript into work every day.

“Just a few pages, so he wouldn’t realise anything was missing, and I would photocopy it. And gradually, in a cupboard in the staff room, bit by bit, a photocopied manuscript grew and grew and grew.”

Read more:

JK Rowling says she snuck Harry Potter manuscript out of home ‘a few pages’ at a time

Author took book to her office ‘a few pages’ at a time and stored photocopies in a cupboard

Tom Murray22 February 2023 05:00
1677038429

Video: ‘Whatever, I’ll be dead'

JK Rowling has not spared much time thinking about her legacy and the impact of her views on trans matters on it.

'Whatever, I'll be dead': JK Rowling brushes off concerns over legacy in light of trans views
Tom Murray22 February 2023 04:00
1677034529

Who is podcast host Megan Phelps-Roper?

For the podcast, Megan Phelps-Roper travelled to JK Rowling’s Edinburgh castle and, for six days in May and August, conducted intimate interviews with the author.

But who is she, and how did she land such a big interview with Rowling?

Megan Phelps-Roper is 37 and she lives in rural South Dakota. She is best known for escaping what Louis Theroux called “the most hated family in America” in his 2007 documentary on the extremist Westboro Baptist Church, led by Phelps-Roper’s grandfather Fred Phelps.

The hate group, founded in Topeka, Kansas, picketed the funerals of soldiers and Aids victims. It is known for its hate speech against atheists, Jews, Muslims, transgender people, and numerous Christian denominations. Their theology and practices have been rejected almost universally by Christian churches.

Phelps-Roper distanced herself from the group in 2012, largely thanks to discovering other points of view on Twitter, which she had joined three years earlier to spread the church’s message.

She has written a book about her experience, Unfollow, and is now a speaker and activist.

Tom Murray22 February 2023 02:55
1677030744

Voices: ‘The JK Rowling situation has become a toxic brew of prejudice, misinformation and tragedy. How has it come to this?'

In a comment piece for The Independent, Julia Bell writes: “Rowling has become a lightning rod for the anti-trans discourse that proliferates online...

“Key to a lot of the arguments is Rowling’s insistence on the idea of biology defining gender, in the name of defending women against men posing as women in order to carry out abuse.

“But as Judith Butler points out in an interview in The New Statesman: “The feminist who holds such a view presumes that the penis does define the person, and that ... the penis is the threat, or that any person who has a penis who identifies as a woman is engaging in a base, deceitful, and harmful form of disguise.”

Read more:

Opinion: JK Rowling and the New York Times furore: How did we get here?

The situation has now become a toxic brew of prejudice, misinformation and tragedy

Tom Murray22 February 2023 01:52
1677027629

BBC recently received hundreds of complaints about JK Rowling radio discussion

Days before the new podcast aired, it was reported that the BBC had received 200 complaints after a radio host failed to challenge a guest who called Rowling “transphobic”.

Stacey Henley, a transgender woman and editor-in-chief of The Gamer, spoke about Rowling’s “nasty views” and accused her of pushing “transphobia” and a “campaign against trans people”.

The BBC, which “must remain duly impartial” per its own guidelines, later apologised for the exchange, after listeners said it presented an “unfair characterisation” of Rowling’s views.

Read more:

BBC receives 200 complaints after radio guest calls JK Rowling ‘transphobic’

Evan Davis failed to ‘sufficiently’ challenge Radio 4 guest who accused Rowling of ‘transphobia’, BBC said

Tom Murray22 February 2023 01:00
1677024102

Video: Lawyer on podcast says Harry Potter’s legal wins created ‘precedent’, which now protects LGBT+ literature

JK Rowling podcast claims Harry Potter has helped save LGBT+ books
Tom Murray22 February 2023 00:01
1677020428

Podcast host suggests Harry Potter has helped save LGBT+ books

In the second episode of JK Rowling’s new podcast, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, she and host Megan Phelps-Roper discuss the 1997 release of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone and the negative response it received from some Christian activists.

Evangelists in the United States attempted to clamp down on the popularity of the wizard story, leading to a legal battle on the matter of censorship in children’s stories.

“Extreme words were being used, that I was harming children, that these books were poison for children’s minds,” Rowling recalls in the episode titled “Burn the Witch”.

According to Phelps-Roper, Harry Potter’s legal win created a “precedent” that now protects LGBT+ literature.

Read more below:

Megan Phelps-Roper JK Rowling (Getty)

A 2003 legal victory over Arkansas school censorship created precedent, Megan Phelps-Roper says

Inga Parkel21 February 2023 23:00
1677018628

What else does JK Rowling discuss on the podcast?

While the podcast between JK Rowling and host Megan Phelps-Roper touches on the author’s controversial remarks related to trans people, the intimate conversation additionally touches on Rowling’s personal life.

Not only does she talk about how her mother’s death was like a “wrecking ball” to her life, Rowling also discloses details about “violence” in her first marriage and her traumatic miscarriage.

Read more about the latter here:

JK Rowling (Getty Images)
Inga Parkel21 February 2023 22:30

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