Do you want me to tell you what is even more vitriolic than pro-lifers? Trans- exclusionary radical feminists,” says Jodi Picoult. The bestselling author of My Sister’s Keeper is talking about the abuse she gets online. A Spark of Light, her 2018 novel about abortion and women’s reproductive rights, made the pro-lifers furious. Her 2016 hit Small Great Things, about white privilege and racism in America, riled white supremacists. Her next book, about trans issues, co-written with American author and trans activist Jennifer Finney Boylan, isn’t even out until 2022, but it will undoubtedly infuriate anti-trans activists just as much as her tweets about transphobia have.
“It was a friend of mine, the novelist Celeste Ng, who was the one who said, ‘I’m going to introduce you to something called Twitter Block Chain’,” says Picoult, her face lighting up. “It’s phenomenal. If one white nationalist says something in response to you that is hateful, they all follow each other, so you run Twitter Block Chain and it gets rid of thousands of these people.”
The Trump-loving corner of her readership doesn’t like her criticising the president either; she calls him “the orangutan”, and even talking about him makes her want to “throw things across the room”. “I will have Trump supporters write to me and say, ‘I’m never reading your books any more’. What they tell me is: ‘I read you for your fiction, not your politics’. I tell them, ‘I don’t tell you what to think in my books… you can’t stop me from being a human being with opinions.’ I will absolutely try and have a discussion with them but if they start threatening me, calling me names, saying things about my family, I’m done.”
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