J.K. Rowling is once again in the headlines for being a woman.
It sounds like that should be a good thing, but sadly it has become vilified.
The celebrated author of the Harry Potter series has repeatedly found herself in hot water for defending the biological science of womanhood. In July she faced backlash after she commented on an article that touted advancements in third world countries for “people who menstruate.”
She slapped back at detractors for their misogyny even as she was publicly denounced by the very people she made into wealthy superstars. Unfortunately the insanity didn’t end there.
Variety reports that Rowling has returned the Ripple of Hope Award she received from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization back in December of 2019. The author is well known for work in supporting gay rights and is a very outspoken supporter of the gay community. The move comes after remarks from the group’s president, Kerry Kennedy, criticizing Rowling for her “transphobic” comments.
“Over the course of June 2020 — LGBTQ Pride Month — and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” Kennedy posted on the organization’s website on Aug. 3. “On June 6, she tweeted an article headlined “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” She wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity: ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Kennedy said she had spoken with Rowling “to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community — one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.”
Rowling released a statement on her website defending herself against the charges of bigotry and again laying out her case for the compassionate treatment of those who struggle with dysmorphia and choose to “transition” while recognizing the biological science of gender. As a feminist, the lifelong progressive believes erasing the markers of womanhood is erasing women. In her statement, Rowling laid out her activist bonafides and her extensive research into the science of gender and body dysmorphia.
To quote the newly-formed Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), a group of 100 international clinicians:
The history of medicine has many examples in which the well-meaning pursuit of short-term relief of symptoms has led to devastating long-term results… The “gender affirmative” model commits young people to lifelong medical treatment…, dismisses the question of whether psychological therapy might help to relieve or resolve gender dysphoria and provides interventions without an adequate examination.
I’ve been particularly struck by the stories of brave detransitioned young women who’ve risked the opprobrium of activists by speaking up about a movement they say has harmed them. After hearing personally from some of these women, and from such a wide range of professionals, I’ve been forced to the unhappy conclusion that an ethical and medical scandal is brewing. I believe the time is coming when those organisations and individuals who have uncritically embraced fashionable dogma, and demonised those urging caution, will have to answer for the harm they’ve enabled.
She went on to say that she was returning her Ripple of Hope award as an act of solidarity with women across the globe.
RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women. The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.
In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year. I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.
Rowling has enough money and influence to continue swimming upstream on this. Here’s hoping for all women everywhere that more influential voices with enough cushion to safely navigate cancel culture can get behind her.