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JK Rowling Backs Transphobic Movement And Solidifies TERF Status

Rowling has shown hints and peeks of her transphobia before, but now, she's openly backed a transphobic movement. So she's a TERF.

As of today, the verdict is clear: J.K. Rowling is a TERF.

Rowling has come under increasing scrutiny for a spectrum of misdeeds. Some say her series is just too popular and it’s too damn annoying. Long-time fans new and former, grown up and in-tune with the world a little more, have started picking apart her weak metaphors of real-life occurrences: racism, HIV/AIDS, queerness, racial metaphors, activism, and even just representing actual races (Cho Chang, really?). The latest, though, absolutely crosses the line for queer onlookers.

After many kept eyes on her for transphobe-following behavior, Rowling expressed anti-transgender sentiment openly on Twitter. It started with seemingly feminist rhetoric, but it ended in a chilling gender-essentialist conclusion: “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”

The argument that “sex is real” implies that trans women cannot be women because of their bodies. Which is transphobia.

The tweet was tagged with the hashtag #IStandWithMaya. This movement backs Maya Forstater, who was fired after she expressed transphobic sentiments online. Through a post on an online crowdfunding page Forstater set up, she announced yesterday that she’d lost an employment tribunal she requested. The actual text of the judgement is vicious and unforgiving about Forstater’s “absolutist” transphobia.

In short, what she’s doing is doubling down on Forstaters’s, and other transphobes’, belief that trans women are not “real women.” Which is, put plainly, transphobia. And many finally agree, once and for all, that J.K. Rowling is a TERF.

JK Rowling & The Echo Chamber of TERFs

For those not caught up, “TERF” is an abbreviation for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” For the record, it’s not a slur; it’s an abbreviated descriptor, because an actual slur does not have anything to do with one’s beliefs on gender. TERFs most often express transphobia in the form of ironically-sexist gender essentialism. It’s often expressed as, “Only cis women, having a womanly body, understand what it’s like to be a woman, so transgender women cannot be valid.” Which even the brazingly centrist New York Times has published pieces on saying this is bogus. Or, “They’re actually men, so they’re a danger to women.” Which has never actually been proven to be a real issue, ever.

To transgender users and their allies, Rowling’s TERF-ness has been subtly noticeable for years. In 2017, onlookers caught her “liking” a tweet promoting a transphobic Medium piece. The piece expressed “women’s concerns about the new gender identity law that will allow any male to access women’s sex segregated spaces, regardless of presentation, or hormonal/surgical status.”

Keen eyes, meanwhile, spotted Rowling following loud and proud TERFs. She only follows 665 people at the time of writing, so any follows are serious. An op-ed by one person Rowling follows claimed children were “sacrificed to appease [the] trans lobby;” another compared transness to blackface. (For the record also, you don’t compare anything to the black experience unless you’re black.) Oh, and of course she follows Graham Linner, who’s a constant point of attention as someone who’s frequently transphobic and a target of online leftist sneering, but also now possibly could allegedly be a chaser. She’s known to block people who point these follows out.

In her 2014 mystery novel The Silkworm, the “hero” of the book also makes a rape joke towards a trans woman. It’s capped off with, “That wouldn’t be very fun, now would it? Not pre-op.”

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Basically, this tweet is her saying the quiet parts of her transphobia out loud. It’s about time, because many would rather her just say it than leave any doubt.

Unfortunately, Rowling’s most recent gaudy transphobia and TERF announcement is a worrying sign of things to come in the United Kingdom for its transgender and queer-otherwise population. For one, there’s been a uniquely vitriolic wave of transphobic “discourse” in UK media in recent years. Opinion sections are flooded often more with pieces questioning the validity of trans people than those providing facts as to why it’s accepted medically and socially.

The recent UK election is a major consideration, too. For Americans, the UK Conservatives’ win is essentially akin to what occurred in 2016’s presidential election. One politician who ran for Councillor in a largely-Tory district received reports of alleged transphobic assault crimes after last week’s election, according to a Facebook post. A poll taken last year showed that “just over half” of Tory (slang for Conservative) politicians did not believe transgender women should be afforded the same rights as cisgender women. Nearly 70% opposed self-identification processes, vital for legal transgender transitioning processes.

In other words, Rowling’s statement displays dangerous beliefs for the queer community in a dangerous time for it. This belief shouldn’t be taken lightly, especially with Rowling’s cultural power. If the cries of “please read another book” didn’t reach you before, hopefully they do now.

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About the Author

Victoria Rose

Victoria is a Brooklyn-based, chaotic-good former dungeon master and a Contributor-At-Large for Fanbyte. She's a self-proclaimed esports pundit, and used to do Dota 2 news and reporting as a full-time part-time gig. She's also four red pandas stacked in a hoodie. [she/her/hers or they/their/theirs]