JK Rowling explains views on transgenderism: 'I refuse to bow down'

British author JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series of books, poses during the launch of new online website Pottermore in London in this file photograph dated June 23, 2011.
British author JK Rowling, creator of the Harry Potter series of books, poses during the launch of new online website Pottermore in London in this file photograph dated June 23, 2011. | REUTERS/SUZANNE PLUNKETT/FILES

J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, provided further context to her criticisms of transgender ideology and staunch opposition to women being forced out of their careers for expressing their opinions on the matter. 

Following a few tweets Saturday noting that biological sex is real, and that believing as much and saying so does not amount to hate for transgender-identifying people, the famous writer posted an approximately 4,000-word essay on her website detailing her reasons for her views.

Rowling explained that her life has been shaped by being female, and that her interest in the subject pre-dates when she voiced support online for Maya Forstater, a tax researcher who was ousted from her job for what were deemed "transphobic." Forstater had stated that transgender-identified males would never be women.

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When Rowling "liked" a tweet that online transactivists saw as bigoted, she was subjected to social media harassment; such harassment continued and intensified when she followed the now-deceased lesbian feminist YouTube star Magdalen Berns, she explained. Rowling was told that with her words she was "literally killing trans people." She decided to speak up for several reasons, among them the rising numbers young people who underwent a hormonal and surgical transition and now wish they never had.

"I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility," Rowling said.

"Most people probably aren’t aware – I certainly wasn’t, until I started researching this issue properly – that ten years ago, the majority of people wanting to transition to the opposite sex were male. That ratio has now reversed. The U.K. has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment. Autistic girls are hugely overrepresented in their numbers. The same phenomenon has been seen in the U.S."

Rowling also shared personal history of her discomfort with her body when growing up, feeling "mentally sexless" she felt.

"As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgment that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens," she said.

"Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are."

The author went on to express concern for the current explosion of transgender activism in the United Kingdom.

"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. Many people aren’t aware of this."

"I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it. I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who’re standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who’re reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces," she said.

In response to her earlier comments, actors Daniel Radcliffe — who portrayed Harry Potter — and Emma Watson asserted their support for transgender-identified people and distanced themselves from Rowling.

Rowling continued Wednesday that it is important to preserve the terms females use to describe their lives, noting that the word "woman" is not a costume.

"‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating."

"Huge numbers of women are justifiably terrified by the trans activists; I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They’re afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence," she added.

The author opened up about her past as a domestic abuse survivor, and her experience in a violent marriage, elaborating that the male violence she experienced informs her views when women's boundaries are legally removed.

"When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman ... then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth," she said.

She concluded: "All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse."

Follow Brandon Showalter on Facebook: BrandonMarkShowalterFollow Brandon Showalter on Twitter: @BrandonMShow

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