Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans tweets are being used as fodder for hateful misinformation by right-wing media and anti-LGBTQ groups. Rowling had lamented trans-inclusive language and suggested that acceptance of trans identities would erase cisgender women’s “lived reality.”
Right-wing outlets such as Fox News and TheBlaze, as well as extreme anti-LGBTQ groups Family Research Council and American College of Pediatricians, seized on Rowling’s comments to promote their anti-trans views. In one instance, a Quillette assistant editor claimed that if trans-inclusive language is accepted, “then the battle to push back sex-spectrum pseudoscience in every other area will be lost—from the admission of males into female prisons and rape-crisis centers, to the facilitation of sex-change surgery for schoolchildren.”
On June 6, Rowling criticized an opinion piece for using the phrase “people who menstruate” -- a phrase that recognizes the fact that not every woman menstruates and that not every person who menstruates is a woman.
She then tweeted another thread explaining why she took issue with the phrase.
Rowling has taken to Twitter in the past to support anti-trans causes. In December 2019, she defended a woman who argued that she had a legal right to misgender and demean trans people in the workplace. In March 2018, Rowling also liked a tweet that referred to trans women as “men in dresses,” though her spokesperson claimed the like was an accident caused “by holding her phone incorrectly” during “a clumsy and middle-aged moment.”
Right-wing and anti-LGBTQ figures weaponized Rowling’s remarks to advance anti-trans views
Numerous right-wing media outlets published articles about Rowling’s comments, including Fox News, TheBlaze, and National Review, as well as leaders of anti-LGBTQ groups Family Research Council and the deceptively named American College of Pediatricians.
These outlets and figures weaponized Rowling’s comments to lend credibility to their anti-trans agenda, including pushing the debunked myth that trans women are a threat to other women’s safety in public spaces and spreading misinformation about best practice medical care for trans youth. Some also cited Rowling’s comments as support for TERFs, an acronym for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
TERFs often identify as liberal or feminist, sometimes referring to themselves as “gender-critical” or “radical feminists,” and have historically opposed trans-inclusive measures and refused to accept the identities of trans people. They have regularly made appearances in right-wing media and worked closely with anti-LGBTQ groups like Heritage Foundation to advance a dangerous anti-trans agenda.
Several right-wing and anti-LGBTQ figures seized on Rowling's tweets:
- Daily Signal Editor-in-Chief Katrina Trinko
So now if you wear a kimono or don a Native American headdress—no matter how respectfully—that’s cultural appropriation and inappropriate if you are not Japanese or Native American.
But if you want to label a female experience—one that is dependent on having female body parts at birth—as being gender-neutral, that’s A-OK.
So at least for today, ethnic appropriation gets you hurled into cancel culture. But gender appropriation gets you celebrated.
How is that fair?
But of course, LGBT and other woke activists are ready to erase thousands of years of shared female experience just to ensure that a transgender or nonbinary person never has to be challenged in his worldview that perhaps our bodies are relevant to our gender.
- The Federalist senior contributor Libby Emmons
J.K. Rowling has held the line on refuting transgender rhetoric, and for gender-critical women and real feminists, this is a glorious moment. We, the gender-critical, the terfs, those women who have spoken up over and over, are finally witnessing the manifestation of an ally who is simply too big to cancel.
Having come up through the arts, where this opinion became manifest as far back as a decade ago, I have seen the cognitive dissonance of those leftist women who were fighting for women’s voices to be heard in the arts, while at the same time proclaiming men were women. Awards and grants once meant for women opened up to men who called themselves women, and those women who advocated for that change watched as funding for women’s art became funding for men-who-dress-like-women’s art.”
- The Spectator writer James Kirkup
The other way to explain JK Rowling’s journey down that road to terfdom is that she is an intelligent women who has taken a careful look at the issue and decided for herself that there is nothing progressive or kind or liberal about a movement that encourages autistic children to be given untested drugs. That tells adolescents uncomfortable with their bodies that surgery brings happiness and the alternative is suicide. That tells lesbians they’re bigots if they won’t consider sex with women who have penises. That showers women (and really, it is just women) who question these things with violent and sexualised abuse.
- Quillette assistant editor Colin Wright
But a person riding a motorcycle wearing a spandex suit and lighter helmet doesn’t become a cyclist (or less of a biker) because they share these secondary traits more commonly associated with cyclists. And a person riding a bicycle wearing jeans and a leather jacket doesn’t become a biker (or less of a cyclist) by sharing secondary traits more typical of bikers. Just as these secondary traits do not define bikers and cyclists, secondary sex characteristics do not define males and females.
Some trans–rights activists have asked why it should be that people like me are so fixated on an issue where the stakes seem so small. But the stakes aren’t small: If the idea of biological sex can be overturned in the domain of athletic competition, where differences between male and female are abundantly obvious, then the battle to push back sex-spectrum pseudoscience in every other area will be lost—from the admission of males into female prisons and rape-crisis centers, to the facilitation of sex-change surgery for schoolchildren.
- TheBlaze writer Chris Enloe
- The Post Millennial columnist Blair White
- New York Post Op-Ed Editor Sohrab Ahmari
- Family Research Council President Tony Perkins
- American College of Pediatricians
- Former Fox News host and TheBlaze founder Glenn Beck