JK Rowling has been hitting the headlines of late for, well, the like of things JK Rowling has been hitting headlines for of late. Initially having transphobic retweets dubbed as middle-aged moments, recently she accidentally cut and pasted a news report over a legal case that misgendered the defendant, against court advice to the media. Which revealed the kind of material she had been seeking out to read. In the past, her comments have been restricted to retweets, likes and support for people.
Yesterday, however, JK Rowling went 'above the line', commenting on an opinion piece posted on Devex, a media platform for the global development community, titled "Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate." But it wasn't the cause JK was commenting on but the language. She tweeted;
"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" Rowling tweeted. The article concerned healthcare issues around menstruation but not concerning, say, women who do not menstruate. Negative reaction led JK Rowling to post in response, stating her opinions on the matter openly for the first time.
"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," she wrote. "The idea that women like me, who've been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they're vulnerable in the same way as women — ie, to male violence – 'hate' trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences — is a nonsense. I respect every trans person's right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I'd march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it's hateful to say so."
British YA author and Doctor Who novelist Juno Dawson stated "She put a polite veneer on her words, I'd like to break down what she's saying. – sex is real and unchangeable. – trans women are therefore male. – single sex spaces therefore must exclude "biological males". – trans women can't access public life. That is what she is saying."
She later told Pink News "I'd urge Rowling to think about the use of her vast platform. This constant debate around trans lives is creating a hugely hostile environment for trans people. We get it online and we get it in the streets. Her words have real-life consequences."
While comic book author Magdalene Visaggio, whose comic book Vagrant Queen was recently adapted into a TV series for SyFy, wanted a conversation and made a direct offer to JK Rowling . "Hi, JK. As a trans woman and a fellow author, I would appreciate the opportunity to have a discussion with you about this. I believe you have good intentions, but the way you are thinking about this needs to be forthrightly addressed with an attitude of mutual respect."
She later added "For those of you hurting from Rowling's heel turn, I offer a piece of advice: You are an intelligent reader, and the good you found in Harry Potter is still there. Nothing has changed except the presumption of purity. You'll have to engage with her work critically now, but that is always true of every book by every person ever written. All of our idols have clay feet. Every single one of them. Orson Card taught me radical empathy. That is still a valuable lesson, even if one Card himself seems incapable of embodying."
It certainly sounds like an opportunity…