Literati rally to JK Rowling’s defence in row over Cormoran Strike book The Sunday Times 27.09.20

The original article is here.

Some of Britain’s most eminent entertainers and authors have rallied around JK Rowling after the Harry Potter writer was subjected to an onslaught of abuse and death threats on social media.

The Booker prize-winner Ian McEwan, the actress Frances Barber, the playwright Sir Tom Stoppard and the actor and writer Griff Rhys Jones are among 58 signatories to a letter in which they say she is a victim of “an insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media”.

In the letter, triggered by her opponents declaring her dead on social media, they said it was “just the latest example of hate speech directed against her and other women that Twitter and other platforms enable and implicitly endorse”.

Troubled Blood, Rowling’s latest Cormoran Strike detective novel published on September 15 under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, featured a male murderer with a fetish for women’s clothing.

It led opponents of her views on transgender matters to declare her “dead” by sending the #RIPJKRowling hashtag to the top of the Twitter trending charts. Meanwhile, sales of the book in its first week on sale were 64,633, almost twice as successful as its predecessor, and almost four times as many as earlier books in the series, according to Nielsen Book Research.

Rowling had received rape threats and other abuse on social media in June when she objected to the term “people who menstruate” being used instead of “women”.

She said: “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.”

Last week the government announced that it would not go ahead with a change to the Gender Recognition Act, proposed by Theresa May’s government, that would have allowed people to change their legal gender without the need for a medical certificate.

The Department for Education also issued new guidance for the curriculum on relationships, sex and health that said schools should not work with third-party organisations that “suggest non-conformity to gender stereotypes should be seen as synonymous with having a different gender identity”.

Stephanie Davies-Arai, the founder of Transgender Trend, a pressure group for concerned parents, said: “Rejecting gender stereotypes does not mean the child is transgender. It’s perfectly normal for a boy to play with dolls and love wearing princess costume. This does not mean that they are a girl. It is also perfectly normal for a girl to love football and climbing trees and hate wearing dresses, but this does not mean she is a boy.”

Mo Wiltshire, director of education and youth at the campaign group Stonewall, said: “Our school training and guidance is clear that teachers shouldn’t make assumptions about whether a child is trans because they don’t conform to gender stereotypes.”

@NicholasHellen