JK Rowling conjures trans Twitter storm The Times 08.06.20

The original article is here.

She created a magical world but yesterday it was JK Rowling who was cursed. The Harry Potter author enraged showbusiness figures while encouraging many feminists with a late-night tirade against trans-inclusive language.

Martina Navratilova, the tennis champion, was among those to support the author’s objection to the term “people who menstruate” instead of “women”. The row provoked more than 750,000 tweets, with Rowling, 54, receiving foul-mouthed accusations of prejudice.

Rowling began tweeting at 10.35pm on Saturday, referring to an article on an aid website about “creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate”.

Rowling wrote: “ ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out, Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

As critics called her a “terf” [a trans-exclusionary radical feminist], she wrote: “Feminazi’, ‘TERF’, ‘bitch’, ‘witch’. Times change. Woman-hate is eternal. 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.

“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.”

Navratilova, 63, a lesbian figurehead, agreed with a comment praising Rowling for her courage on the issue of sex and added: “There is no transphobic agenda here at all . . . ”

Other performers were appalled. Jonathan Van Ness, the Queer Eye presenter, wrote: “Trans Black people & trans non-Black people are discriminated against every single day. They’re dying. We’re fighting for Black people & trans people and you’re doing this?”

The issue also reopened Brexit wounds. Darren Grimes, the Leave campaigner, said: “JK Rowling is incredibly brave to speak out on this. Again, there’ll be calls for her to be cancelled, her crime? Refusing to deny the truth that biological sex is an immutable fact and that the more vocal trans activists are trying to remove women from the picture entirely.”

Jolyon Maugham, QC, who brought a Brexit legal challenge, queried whether Rowling “has given even a moment’s thought to the trans boys or young men, many of them acutely vulnerable, whose gender identity she denies, who she belittles, here?”

Debbie Hayton, a trans rights campaigner who has been critical of militants, said that for some younger people, trans had become a form of “identity politics”. She thanked Rowling for raising the issue. “This is existential for our society,” she said.

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