The Handmaid's Tale author Margaret Atwood supports transgender community: 'Rejoice in nature's infinite variety'

‘We’re all part of a flowing bell curve’

Isobel Lewis
Tuesday 07 July 2020 12:22
Margaret Atwood warns the public of the potential implications of Boris Johnson's suspension of Parliament

Writer Margaret Atwood has shown her support for the transgender community in a series of tweets.

On Monday (6 July), The Handmaid’s Tale author linked to an article from the Scientific American on Twitter titled: “The New Science of Sex and Gender” while using the hashtag: “#TransGenderWomen.”

She wrote: “Some science here… Biology doesn’t deal in sealed Either/Or compartments. We’re all part of a flowing Bell curve. Respect that! Rejoice in Nature’s infinite variety!”

Responding to a critic who argued that there were only two sexes, Atwood replied: “(Um, there are gay penguins. There are hermaphrodites.) What the piece is talking about however is that sex and gender don’t always go together and are not experienced by all people in the same way. That appears to be undeniable.

“What people feel in their heads is also biological. (i.e. drugs. Post-stroke changes. Dementia.) It’s true that kids’ gender identification may change. But also it may not.”

Atwood’s comments come as JK Rowling continues to double down on her stance on transgender people, with her comments dividing the literary world and causing a number of fan sites to distance themselves from the Harry Potter author.

Current Man Booker Prize co-winner Atwood linked to a YouTube channel “addressing what was said by JK Rowling in her essay”, adding: “Nobody has said there aren’t “men”+ “women”. But gender and sex are two different things.”

However, Atwood was keen to show that she wasn’t positioning herself against Rowling, writing: “I am not ‘better’ [than her]. Different people are good at different things. One must try to understand other people’s fears.”

She continued: “So much of this seems to be about bathrooms. There are many inventive ways of solving the bathroom fears. People are creative, yes?”