The author might have created one of the most successful franchises of all time, but for some reason, gender politics are lost on her.
JK Rowling has created one of the most successful, enduring, and beloved franchises of all time, but she’s still problematic AF. For some reason, gender politics are wildly lost on the Harry Potter author, who has seemingly taken up railing against trans rights as one of her sacred duties. As she continues her frequent Twitter tirades, it begs the question: why is this the hill to die on? We’ll probably never know the answer to that, but what we do know is that JK Rowling is a proud TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) — she wears the badge like it’s the Gryffindor house colors. Specifically, Rowling is hyper-concerned with trans individuals being allowed in women’s spaces, and over the weekend she aimed her criticisms at new reforms being deliberated in Scotland.
Rowling tweeted this past Saturday about proposed amendments to the Gender Recognition Reform Bill in the country. The changes would instate what’s colloquially referred to as “self ID,” allowing for trans individuals to self-identify legally without having to show psychiatric or medical reports. Gender self-identification is the law in several countries, and is meant to simplify gender transition. The bill’s website states that the changes would make it so that “applicants will be required to live in their acquired gender for a minimum of three months, with a reflection period of a further three months before a certificate is granted.” It also makes it a criminal offense with up to two years imprisonment for “applicants to make a false statutory declaration.”
For Rowling though, dignifying trans individuals with the right to identify themselves without other people’s permission is just too generous. Instead, she paints the proposed law as an avenue for sexual predators to gain access to women’s spaces like trauma centers and prisons for the express purpose of abusing people. Rowling retweeted an unverified claim that in areas with self ID, “Men are self identifying in to female sexual assault recovery services. Say no and they take you to the Human Rights Tribunal.” Rowling added, “The law [Nicola Sturgeon is] trying to pass in Scotland will harm the most vulnerable women in society: those seeking help after male violence/rape and incarcerated women.” Rowling has been tweeting nonsensical criticisms over the issue since Christmas, posting last December, “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.”
What Rowling doesn’t seem to understand is that her stance implies that trans people are preternaturally inclined to be predators — a dangerous accusation to make against a community of people who are routinely disenfranchised and who statistically experience higher rates of violence for their identity. UCLA reported last year that “Transgender people over four times more likely than cisgender people to be victims of violent crime.” Many places even have “trans panic” defense precedents, in which abusers have used their fear of trans people as an excuse for assaulting or killing them. Those in the trans community are just as vulnerable as the women Rowling is so adamant on protecting, and yet she continues to pit one against the other.
All JK Rowling had to do was get rich and just be cool. She could be a mysteriously private billionaire, and we’d allow it. She could be kind of bitchy in public, and we’d say, “fine.” But it’s bizarre, unfortunate, and most importantly, incredibly harmful that she’s chosen to be a public TERF instead. Her viewpoints perpetuate hate and violence, and it’s not okay. Women need to be protected, but trans people do as well.