Andrew Wheeler is a former columnist for Bleeding Cool, former EIC of Comics Alliance, and graphic novelist and comic book writer, including creating the recent all LGBTQ team Justice League Queer or JLQ for DC Comics. A British Eisner-winning writer and editor based in Toronto, his work includes Another Castle, Freelance, Soldier/Sailor, and the Dungeons & Dragons Young Adventurer's Guides, plus the narrative game series Mr. Smilez and Immortal Thirst. He is the lead editor on the LGBTQ young adult anthology Shout Out.
JK Rowling is the author of the Harry Potter novels, the Fantastic Beasts screenplays and also writes The Cormoran Strike books as Robert Galbraith, a name chosen that is the same as the inventor of conversion therapy, though she claims that is an accident.
In recent years, JK Rowling has been increasingly proselytising what she calls gender-critical thinking, but that others call trans-exclusionary radical feminism or blatant transphobia. When the UK Labour Party leader, Leader Of Her Majesty's Opposition and former Director of Public Prosecutions, Sir Keir Starmer MP told The Times newspaper that "A woman is a female adult, and in addition to that trans women are women, and that is not just my view, that is actually the law. It has been the law through the combined effects of the 2004 [Gender Recognition] Act and the 2010 [Equality] Act", Rowling posted a series of tweets. She wrote "I don't think our politicians have the slightest idea how much anger is building among women from all walks of life at the attempts to threaten and intimidate them out of speaking publicly about their own rights, their own bodies and their own lives. Among the thousands of letters and emails I've received are disillusioned members of Labour, the Greens, the Lib Dems and the SNP. Women are scared, outraged and angry at the deaf ear turned to their well-founded concerns. But women are organising. Now @Keir_Starmer publicly misrepresents equalities law, in yet another indication that the Labour party can no longer be counted on to defend women's rights. But I repeat: women are organising across party lines, and their resolve and their anger are growing."
As JK Rowling went deeper and deeper into her criticisms of supporting trans rights, she stated, "Innumerable gay people have been in touch with me to say exactly this. Like women, they – especially lesbians – are under attack for not wishing to be redefined and for refusing to use ideological language they find offensive."
Andrew Wheeler, a gay man who has been writing extensively in, around and about queer matters, replied in concern on Twitter, saying "You are empowering far right forces that endanger all women and queer people with misleading and hateful rhetoric. It's not too late for you to walk back from the dark path you've found yourself on. Please listen to the people who are asking you to lead with love."
And it was this response that JK Rowling chose to quote tweet to her millions of followers, "Far right to little boy wearing a dress: take that off, it means you're not a real man. Gender identity theorists: wanting to wear dresses means you're really a girl. Radical feminists: boys can wear dresses, you look great! Which of these two positions are most alike, Andrew?"
A reply to a tweet is only read by someone who follows both the tweeter and the respondent. So the only people who read Andrew's reply to JK, aside from JK, were those of his 7500 followers who also followed JK Rowling. Or those of JK Rowling's 14 million readers who also followed Wheeler. But when JK Rowling quote-tweeted her response it went straight on the timeline of all 14 million of her followers. And plenty of them piled in to Andrew.
The response was as might have been expected with thousands of JK Rowling fans piling on. Including those who, as Andrew put it "I was prepared to give R the benefit of the doubt, to believe she cannot conceive of the scale of the abuse she invites into people's lives, but this is extraordinary. She retweeted someone who tried to link me to "paedophiles, rapists & misogynists"."
She did. Andrew continued "She's playing with my personal safety for rhetorical clout. She's inviting death threats against me because I asked her to lead with love rather than play into the hands of the far-right. Ms Rowling, please, look at what comes so easily to you. Look at what you've become."
As to the massive influx of social media attention he was receiving suddenly, he also took the opportunity to talk about this on his new mailing list, Wheelergram.
This was terrifying. I had asked the author to consider the impact of her words, and she had invited 14 million people to link me with pariahs, with the most detested types of people in the world. Some of those 14 million people are probably not okay. The author had invited a threat to my safety that may hang over me for the rest of my life. Or end it. Honestly, there are fewer Belgians in the world than there are people who now might want me dead.
I signed up, maybe you might like to as well? I've always liked Andrew's writing but this suddenly seemed a little more urgent…