Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling doubled down on her recent anti-trans comments, releasing an extensive statement about her fears of “current trans activism,” which recycles dangerous anti-trans stereotypes and cliches.
On Wednesday, Rowling published the essay to her personal website, which she tweeted out with the phrase “TERF wars” — a reference to the supposed turf wars between trans activists and TERFs (or trans-exclusionary radical feminists) about “current trans activism.”
In it, Rowling repeatedly writes about her belief in the importance of “biological sex,” or the sex people are assigned at birth.
Noting the harrowing accounts she’d read by trans men about gender dysphoria, Rowling says, “if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition,” as she had experienced mental health issues and struggled with her body as a teenager.
“The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge,” Rowling writes. “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.”
“Trans people need and deserve protection,” Rowling adds, in one of many lines in which she makes clear she doesn’t believe trans women are women. “Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners.”
Trans activists, writers, and organizations immediately expressed their horror at Rowling’s comments.
Sarah McBride, a trans activist and press secretary for the Human Rights Campaign, compared Rowling to Vice President Mike Pence, who is known to support anti-LGBTQ policies.
Writer Emily VanDerWerff called it “dangerous hogwash.”
Journalist and activist Serena Daniari spoke out about Rowling’s “dangerous, ill-informed views,” and criticized her for “simultaneously denying our humanity & relentlessly attacking us.”
Other activists called on people to donate to trans organizations.
Last December, Rowling tweeted her support for Maya Forstater, a woman who was fired for saying transgender women should not be legally recognized. Rowling’s latest statement comes after major backlash over the weekend, when she tweeted a link to an article mocking the line “people who menstruate,” which many pointed out was an anti-trans comment since many women don’t menstruate (and some men do).
In her expanded statement on Wednesday, Rowling also revealed that she had been a victim of sexual assault and domestic abuse. She said this experience made her even more focused on biology, “out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.”
Bathrooms have been one of the biggest trans issues politically, with multiple US states and counties trying to ban access to single-sex public restrooms in order to limit the rights of trans people.
Rowling also argued that people should use the bathroom of the sex they were assigned at birth, even if statistically it is trans people who are more likely to be assaulted or attacked in a bathroom setting.
“So I want trans women to be safe,” the author wrote. “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.”
But gender confirmation certificates aren’t so easily granted in the UK. Applicants for the certificate must be over 18, diagnosed with gender dysphoria (and provide medical evidence from a doctor or psychologist), have lived as that gender for at least two years, and intend to live in it “for the rest of your life.”
Single-sex bathrooms were first introduced into US society because of historical beliefs that women should not be entirely integrated into society and were biologically inferior to men.
Rowling’s recent anti-trans comments resulted in actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the famous films, releasing a statement saying, “Transgender women are women.”
“Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” he added.
His fellow Harry Potter costar, Emma Watson, also pushed back in a tweet on Wednesday, saying, “Trans people are who they say they are.”
Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne also spoke out against Rowling’s anti-trans tweets.
“As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community,” Redmayne said, “I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid.”
In her Wednesday letter, Rowling spoke out against the criticism she’s received. She said she won’t stop talking about her anti-trans comments because she believes she is helping women.
“It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There’s joy, relief and safety in conformity,” she wrote.
However, Jen Richards, the Mrs. Fletcher and Tales of the City star and trans activist, wrote about the frustrations of Rowling’s anti-trans comments at a time when the world’s political focus is on the Black Lives Matter movement.
“The fear, ignorance, and callous cruelty underneath JK Rowling’s words are the same sentiments that lead to the murder and systemic destruction of black trans lives,” Richards wrote.
“But all white women have a choice right now: aggressively defend a narrow, exclusionary concept of manhood that is fundamentally and irrevocably racist, or commit wholly to dismantling white supremacy,” Richards added. “JK Rowling, like many white women, has chosen the former.”