JK Rowling says loved ones ‘begged’ her to keep trans views to herself

‘Harry Potter’ author initially kept her opinions on trans women private following pleas from close friends and family

Ellie Muir
Wednesday 29 May 2024 08:22
JK Rowling criticised over ‘transphobic’ tweet about menstruation.mp4

JK Rowling has said that her loved ones had pleaded with her to keep her polarising views on transgender women to herself.

The Harry Potter author has been met with strong backlash in recent years over her outspoken stance on trans women, and her claims that trans women “are not women”.

In an extract from a new book of essays, The Women Who Wouldn’t Say Wheesht, published in The Times, Rowling wrote that she initially kept her thoughts on the matter to herself “because people around me, including some I love, were begging me not to speak”.

“So I watched from the sidelines as women with everything to lose rallied, in Scotland and across the UK, to defend their rights. My guilt that I wasn’t standing with them was with me daily, like a chronic pain.”

The book is a collection of more than 30 essays and photographs from women in Scotland who claim to be on “the frontline of the battle for women’s rights”. It includes the views of women who are opposed to the Scottish government’s gender reform plans, like Rowling, who has previously argued that the proposals infringe on women’s safety.

Rowling first made her stance on transgender women public in December 2019 when she tweeted in support of researcher Maya Forstater, who was fired from her job at a think-tank, Centre for Global Development, over a series of tweets questioning government plans to allow people to self-identify as another gender.

In June 2020, Rowling publicly criticised the term “people who menstruate”, writing on X/Twitter: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Rowling said her loved one’s pleas held her back from publicly sharing controversial views on trans women
Rowling said her loved one’s pleas held her back from publicly sharing controversial views on trans women (Getty Images)

Individuals and organisations often use the term “people who menstruate” to include transgender and non-binary people, for example, a person who now identifies as a man but still menstruates.

These initial remarks prompted backlash from fans of the author, who labelled Rowling a TERF – an acronym that stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist – a label that Rowling has said she also takes issue with.

The author went on to post an essay on her website titled “TERF Wars” about gender identity ideology, in which she outlined five reasons to be “worried about the new trans activism”.

The LGBT+ rights organisation GLAAD responded to Rowling’s comments, explaining that the author’s tweets align her with ideologies that “willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans. In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people”.

After Rowling’s essay was published, stars of the Harry Potter franchise, including Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, condemned her comments and distanced themselves from the author and her work.

Radcliffe condemned Rowling’s comments
Radcliffe condemned Rowling’s comments (Shutterstock / Getty Images)

In a statement shared with The Trevor Project, Radcliffe wrote: “Transgender women are women…Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”

Rowling has denied being transphobic, but has previously stated that she would rather go to jail than refer to a trans person by their preferred pronouns.

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