JK Rowling: Edinburgh rail station advert in support of author removed The Times 30.07.20

The original article is here.

An advertising poster reading “I love JK Rowling” at Edinburgh’s main railway station has been removed for being too “political” and potentially offensive.

Network Rail confirmed that the digital advertisement had been taken down because it breached its policy by promoting a political viewpoint.

While the words were harmless, their “context” — an acrimonious argument on social media between the author and her critics who accuse her of transphobia — was likely to cause offence, according to a company source.

The advert at Edinburgh Waverley had been designed and booked for £1,200 by Kellie-Jay Keen-Minshull, a campaigner against reform of gender recognition laws that would make it easier to self-identify as a given gender.

She said: “I am astounded that they have found a way to take it down. We are in incredibly sinister times when an expression of love and solidarity is perceived to be hateful.”

The Scottish government wants to amend the present law to make it simpler for transgender people to update the gender on their birth certificate in Scotland. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter books, has become a heroine for feminists opposed to the reforms who want to protect “women-only spaces”.

She has refused to give ground in a succession of bitter online rows, including a stand-off last month with Daniel Radcliffe, the actor who played her boy wizard on screen.

Rowling, 54, had written on Twitter that she was puzzled by a headline on an article which referred to “people who menstruate”. “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she wrote. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

When others accused her of being transphobic, she argued that biological sex was meaningful to her and other women despite claims by some trans commentators that it was unimportant.

Radcliffe responded that “transgender women are women” regardless of biology. The actor’s intervention had been revealing, Ms Keen-Minshull said. “When Daniel Radcliffe said what he said, logic just drew me to one place: genuinely people don’t listen to women, they don’t care about women.”

In 2018 Ms Keen-Minshull paid for the dictionary definition “Woman, women, noun, adult human female” to be printed on a billboard in Liverpool during the Labour Party conference.

It was removed after a complaint and Ms Keen-Minshull, a mother of four, was accused of hate speech.

“When they took down the other billboard at first it was all drama,” Ms Keen-Minshull said. “Then I realised it was really sinister, it was commercially more viable to remove the dictionary definition of woman and call it ‘hate speech’ than it was to keep it up.

“I think it’s the same here. There will come a point where women’s words won’t count, no matter how much we temper our words and messages. Nothing but capitulation is going to be OK for this particular movement, which is just anti-women.”

A spokesman for Network Rail said: “The poster in question is against our code of acceptance for advertising in our stations owing to its political nature. We do not allow advertising that is likely to support or promote one viewpoint over another.”