JK Rowling Pens A Lengthy Essay Justifying Her Transphobia, Saying She’s A Survivor Of Sexual Assault. It’s Still An Incoherent Argument
JK Rowling may have been an irreplaceable part of our childhood, but she has recently come under fire for her transphobic tweets and statements. Last December, fans were left shocked and disappointed when she tweeted in support of tax specialist Maya Forstater who lost her job for being transphobic. While Rowling’s choice to stand with her had already attracted outrage from activists and experts alike, her recent tweets were even more shocking. She has been accused of being a TERF (Trans – Exclusionary Radical Feminist) and invalidating transgender identities with her words. Her views were even opposed by the stars of Harry Potter.
"Transgender women are women."
Daniel Radcliffe spoke out after JK Rowling was accused of transphobia. She has yet to apologize. Radcliffe said: "We need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities." pic.twitter.com/ENZ93uQQLD
— AJ+ (@ajplus) June 9, 2020
Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) June 10, 2020
If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgment or question. Transwomen are Women. I see and love you, Bonnie x
— Bonnie Wright (@thisisbwright) June 10, 2020
In response to the online hate she received, JK Rowling has now penned a long essay justifying her stand on the issue. Read it here, and let’s quickly breakdown what she has to say.
She began by talking about her personal and professional interest in the subject of gender identity and how she has closely followed the debate on it even before the Maya Forstater incident. She described how she was flooded with an avalanche of hate after accidentally liking a tweet my Magdalen Burns, which was considered transphobic. The essay then moves on to elaborate on the statistics of sex reassignment surgery, and how a large number of women who transitioned have later regretted their decision.
“The current explosion of trans activism is urging a removal of almost all of the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass. A man who intends to have no surgery and take no hormones may now secure himself a Gender Recognition Certificate and be a woman in the sight of the law.” she says.
JK Rowling has also opened up about being a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault – and her fear that not requiring sex reassignment surgery to change ones gender will raise issues of women’s safety and the violation of their privacy. “When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.” People who hold Rowling’s belief that you need gender dysphasia and eventually surgery in order to change your gender are more commonly known as transmedicalists or transmeds.
The issue she has addressed is not a simple one. Let’s face it, her concern is one that is shared by many women. Her fears that come from a place of a sexual assault survivor cannot be dismissed. They are valid. However, there is one glaring flaw in her argument. Rowling assumes that allowing people to legally change their gender without having surgery or hormones will make spaces like public washrooms and changing rooms unsafe for women. However, all things considered, it is highly unlikely that this provision will be misused by a predator. Transgender people face threats of abuse and murder every single day. Letting people legally change their gender is the most basic way of validating their identity – and the very literal threat of being assaulted or killed for it comes part and parcel with it. No individual will want to go through that unless they feel real discomfort with the gender they were assigned at birth. Moreover, trans people do not want to substitute biological sex for gender – they simply want their existence to be validated.
Although JK Rowling’s write up was well intentioned and comes from a place of concern for women’s safety, it does not take into consideration many of the lived experiences or transgender people. There is a need now more than ever for cisgender people to understand what transgender people really have to say. We cannot sit here and pretend to know what it is like. As I said, it is a complex issue, but the solution can only be worked out if every narrative is heard and incorporated.