Harry Potter and the Transphobic Author

JK Rowling has been criticized for her lack of diversity in her most famous work, the Harry Potter series, but has recently shown her true feelings towards many of her LGBTQ fans.

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Samir Hussein / WireImage/Getty Images file

J.K. Rowling, the author of the ‘Harry Potter’ series, as she attends the ‘Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them’ premier in 2018.

JK Rowling had spent a majority of 2020 bashing the transgender community through her Twitter. In December 2019, she voiced her support for Maya Forstater. Forstater was a tax specialist who was fired from her job for transphobic tweets. 

These tweets were specifically against trans women who are some of the most discriminated members of the LGBTQ community. She believed that trans women can not have certificates that say they are a woman because, to her, trans women are not women. Forstater petitioned for unlawful termination. In court, the judge said that her view is “not worthy of respect in a democratic society”.  

JK Rowling tweeted her response: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like… But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya”

This caused a wave of both support and hate towards the children’s author. For many who are LGBTQ, especially those in the trans community, people were hurt by her blatant support of transphobia. Many LGBTQ readers identified with many characters of Rowling’s stories, such as Remus Lupin and Sirius Black, who were not canonically LGBT, but still dealt with queer coded struggles.

In June 2020, Rowling replied to a tweet about an article titled “Opinion: Creating a more equal post COVID-19 world for people who menstruate”. She didn’t seem to have any problems with the actual article beside the title. Rowling tweeted, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” 

Up until this point, Rowling had been defending her transphobic tweet from December 2019 on the basis of “protecting women and biological sex”. However, she then chose to double down and continue to spread half truths and transphobia. 

People who menstruate are actually correct because not everyone who was assigned female at birth (AFAB) is a woman. There are trans men and AFAB non binaries who menstruate. 

Gender is how a person identifies, how their brain works. Gender and biological sex can be the same (assigned female at birth and identifying as a women) or it can be different (assigned female at birth is a man). ”

Ten days after publishing that tweet, Rowling published a transphobic essay. In it she stated that her ‘abuse’ started when she would like or follow someone who was a “believer in biological sex” 

She continues claiming that people were abusing her by calling her a trans exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) for the transphobic actions she has taken. Rowling also believes that she must take action against new age trans activism. She says “it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.” 

This statement is completely false. Biological sex is what has always been used when refering to what someone was assigned at birth and what their chromosomes are. The language when referring to biological sex includes, male, female and intersex. Intersex is when someone has a variation of the XX or XY chromosome. People who are intersex can be XXY, X, XXX, etc. 

Gender is how a person identifies, how their brain works. Gender and biological sex can be the same (assigned female at birth and identifying as a women) or it can be different (assigned female at birth is a man). 

Rowling is also very concerned about it being easier for trans kids to start their transition earlier. Many kids, both in the UK and the U.S., go through many psychological tests and appointments before they can start their transition. If the patient has not gone through puberty they can go on hormone blockers, which are completely reversible, that will halt the process of puberty. For those who have already started their biological puberty, they must go through more testing and see multiple doctors before they can start hormone therapy. It can take years to even start both of these processes. 

One of her ‘concerns’ is that many young women are transitioning and that there is a growing number of them who are detransitioning. Part of this statement has some truth to it. The reason there seems to be more trans men is because of our hyper masculine society. A girl can live her life as a tomboy and no one would question it. If that girl came out as trans, it seems to be more acceptable in our society because they were always masculine. When the roles are reversed and a boy is more feminine, they are told to ‘be a man’. The society that has been created does not feel safe for trans women. 

Rowling is completely wrong in saying that there is an increasing number of people detransition. A study done from 2016-2017 by the NHS Gender Identity Services found that out of 3,398 patients, less than one percent had any regrets about transitioning. Within the study, it was found that the most common reason for detransition was not that they were not trans like someone might assume. It was, however, that these people could not cope with the discrimination they received from their families and society. 

Rowling also agrees with Lisa Littman, an American researcher, who claimed that social media websites like Instagram, Tumblr, and Reddit were creating gender dysphoria in teens. Littman’s work can be disproved by Dick Swaab, a Dutch physician and neurobiologist. In an article, he states that biological sex is determined in the first two months of pregnancy and gender develops during the second half. 

Rowling claims that ‘studies’ have shown that 60-90% of dysphoric teens will grow out of dysphoria. It is actually, about 80% of children with dysphoria will grow out of it from the ages of 10-13 during the start of puberty. 

JK Rowling takes a moment to share her traumatic story as a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. Her story is very important. There needs to be advocacy on domestic abuse and sexual assault. Rowling’s story does not have the same light it could, were it to not be a part of a transphobic article. After telling the story of her abusive first marriage, she says that she wishes for trans women to be safe because they are one of the top victims of LGBTQ murders and she too knew what it was like to be at the mercy of someone else’s power.

However, Rowling turns around and says, At the same time, I do not want to make natal [biological] girls and women less safe.” With one sentence, she brings in the biggest argument in trans rights. It’s an argument that is about predatory men, not trans women. TERFs claim that it is easy enough for predatory men to pretend to be a trans woman and get into women only spaces. To back up her argument, Rowling sights a Scottish bill that would make it easier to change the gender marker on official documents. She says that the bill proposes that someone would just need to say that is another gender and it would be easily changed. There has been little to no evidence that this is true. The same logic could apply to cisgender (biological) lesbians assaulting women. 

At the end of her unsavory, transphobic essay, Rowling closes with a call to action for women to stand up against the ‘new’ form of trans activism. 

To help fan the flames for the transphobic author, the BBC nominated her for the 2020 Russell Prize. She did not win, but Rowling received third place. Making this terrifying article more mainstream. 

Finally, to top off her hatred, Rowling’s newest novel, Troubled Blood, is a murder mystery novel and the fifth installment of the Cormoran Strike series. This book’s antagonist is a man who dresses as a women to murder them. After the year that Rowling has been through, one would think that one would hope to distance themselves from such a painfully transphobic theme: “never trust a man in a dress”.