- J.K. Rowling penned a lengthy statement in response to the controversy surrounding her tweets about transgender women.
- The controversy arose when she tweeted an article on June 6 that referenced “people who menstruate,” writing: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
- In her statement on June 10, the author detailed 5 reasons why she’s “worried about the new trans activism.”
- “I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe,” she wrote.
- “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm,” she said, adding that “people in positions of power really need to grow a pair” rather than be intimidated by “accusations of TERFery.”
- She also said: “If I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge.”
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Rowling tweeted a link to the statement, which is posted on her website, with the caption: “TERF wars.”
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 10, 2020
Titled “J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues,” Rowling wrote that her “interest in trans issues” began years ago, even before she tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who was fired for transphobic tweets last year.
She also addressed the accusation that she is a TERF – a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.
Rowling wrote: “In practice, a huge and diverse cross-section of women are currently being called TERFs and the vast majority have never been radical feminists.
“Ironically, radical feminists aren’t even trans-exclusionary – they include trans men in their feminism, because they were born women.”
Rowling then said “accusations of TERFery have been sufficient to intimidate many people, institutions and organisations I once admired, who’re cowering before the tactics of the playground.
“Speaking as a biological woman, a lot of people in positions of power really need to grow a pair (which is doubtless literally possible, according to the kind of people who argue that clownfish prove humans aren’t a dimorphic species).”
Rowling listed 5 reasons why she’s ‘worried about the new trans activism’
Rowling then listed five reasons why she is “worried about the new trans activism” and why she felt the need to speak up.
Firstly, she wrote, “It’s been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.”
Rowling then cited her background as “an ex-teacher and the founder of a children’s charity,” which she said led her to have “deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement is having” on education and safeguarding, while she touted her love of “freedom of speech” as another reason.
Rowling went on to say she was concerned about “the increasing numbers” of trans women who are detransitioning, (“because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility”), and even wrote that she has considered whether she might have transitioned herself if she was born later in life.
“The more of their accounts of gender dysphoria I’ve read, with their insightful descriptions of anxiety, dissociation, eating disorders, self-harm and self-hatred, the more I’ve wondered whether, if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge.”
“If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred,” Rowling wrote.
She then described how her past experience with domestic abuse and sexual assault, which she has never discussed in depth in a public setting, shaped her perspective.
Rowling: “I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. 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.”
The author says she viewed the phrase ‘people who menstruate’ to be ‘degrading’ to women
The controversy began on June 6 when Rowling tweeted a link to an article that included the phrase “people who menstruate.”
Alongside the link, Rowling wrote: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?
Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
While her tweet was the subject of wid-spread criticism, with one user pointing out that “women are not defined by their periods,” Rowling doubled down on her opinion, posting several follow-up tweets.
If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
In the following days, Harry Potter himself, actor Daniel Radcliffe, defended trans people and took a stance against Rowling, while the actress who played Cho Chang used her Twitter to raise awareness for trans charities and organisations.
Trans “Harry Potter” fans said they were devastated by the author’s words, while the trans YouTube community stood against Rowling, too.
In Wednesday’s statement, Rowling said that when she initially posted the tweet about the article that included the phrase “people who menstruate,” which she viewed as “degrading language about women,” she “forgot the first rule of Twitter – never, ever expect a nuanced conversation.”
Rowling asked for ’empathy’ for wanting her ‘concerns to be heard’
She then wrote that she experienced a barrage of abuse at the hands of activists and Twitter users, but that: “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.”
In her conclusion, Rowling wrote that she has “a complex backstory” like all human beings, and stated: “I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.
“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.”
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