Dawe: J.K. Rowling’s transphobia, not surprising, just disappointing


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In recent years, JK Rowling has become more outspoken with her views about transgender people.

Fiona Dawe, Opinion Editor

Like most nerdy children, I was raised on “Harry Potter.” My dad read it to me when I was seven. During this time, my family was living in an English neighborhood where J.K. Rowing actually used to live. Since then, I have read and reread the series multiple times. I have a pair of Hogwarts sweatpants (Hufflepuff, of course), and, in seventh-grade art when I was supposed to draw a portrait of our hero, I drew J.K. Rowling.

Despite being an inspiration to many young women like me, J.K. Rowling has since disappointed everyone with tirades of transphobic tweets. Since then, many of the “Harry Potter” cast have publicly distanced themselves from her, including Evanna Lynch, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe.

Recently, J.K. Rowling has released information regarding her new book that she wrote under the pen name Robert Galbraith. It is about a man who dresses like a woman to kill his victims. Essentially, it is an attempt to demonize trans women. While the plot of the book may have been as heavily criticized if it was written by a non-transphobic author, J.K. Rowling’s past views prove that her writing comes from a place of transphobia. This is a blatantly transphobic book and should have never been written, let alone released.

After her controversial tweets from June 2020, Rowling released an essay on her website about she believed trans people should be removed from single-sex spaces. After being sexually assaulted as a teenager, she believes that inviting trans women into spaces will put other women at risk.

“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth,” Rowling said in her essay.

Since trans women are women, they are also victims of the patriarchy and are also at risk of being sexually assaulted.

Not only is she simply using transphobic language- “any man who believes or feels he’s a woman” really?- she is ignoring two facts. One, nothing is stopping a person who wants to assault a woman from walking into a women’s bathroom currently. Two, if said assaulter decides to not simply walk into the women’s restroom, which means they are probably in the men’s restroom and can simply assault someone there. Punishing trans people for something that is unrelated to them is just plain cruel.

Rowling also said those who don’t support the preservation of single-sex spaces are “only those privileged or lucky enough never to have come up against male violence or sexual assault, and who’ve never troubled to educate themselves on how prevalent it is.” I do believe there should be spaces reserved for women who have suffered/are suffering from male violence, but, guess what? Trans women are women and they deserved to be included in these spaces. Rowling’s refusal to acknowledge this fact simply shows the depths of her transphobia.

During her essay, Rowling also claimed that the patriarchy was to blame for so many trans men transitioning in recent years. While I do agree that at some point in their lives some women may want to be men, this stems from a desire to not be discriminated against instead of actually wanting to be a man. The rise in trans men who are transitioning can easily be explained by the fact that, while we are still not great, there is more acceptance and representation. Trans healthcare is more available and trans representation is no longer completely nonexistent.

However, trans people are still discriminated against. No one is becoming trans to get away from the patriarchy. In Mississippi, it is legal to discriminate against members of the LGBTQ+ community. This is not a law from the 1960s that has yet to be repealed. It was passed in 2016.

Everywhere, trans rights are lackluster, disappointing and simply not enough to keep trans people protected. The life expectancy for a trans woman, specifically trans women of color, is only 35 years. In 42 states and the District of Columbia, it is still legal to kill a trans person using the “gay panic defense.”

In a world where violence against trans people is excused and legitimized, writing a book where the main message is “don’t trust a man in a dress” is simply ignorant and dangerous.