Why J.K. Rowling Controversial Trans Comments Matter

J.K Rowling’s transphobic tweets are part of a cultural and social framework that dehumanizes transgender people.

HomoCulture Gay Culture Brian Webb

This article was published on April 14th, 2022

For many reasons, J.K. Rowling is one of the most beloved authors of our time, but one is how she made magic so inclusive and accessible—and not just to wizards. The Harry Potter series has long been a source of comfort and hope for readers around the world, especially those who don’t feel like they have a place in the world as it is.

But some of Rowling’s tweets in recent years have soured that feeling of inclusion and accessibility. In a June 2020 Twitter thread, Rowling responded to a piece about “people who menstruate” by saying that only women menstruate and that it’s offensive to exclude transgender men from this reality.

Trans men are men who are assigned female at birth but identify as men, and some do menstruate. Trans women are assigned male at birth but identify as women, and many take hormones or have surgery to be more comfortable in their bodies. However, Rowling does not consider these realities and insists on her view of sex and gender being the only valid ones.

She went on to express concern about protections for cisgender women being threatened by transgender rights—and her comments were met with swift backlash from trans activists and allies around the world, including members of her cast (Daniel Radcliffe released an open letter condemning her comments).

Why do her comments matter?

And while there are certainly valid concerns about balancing trans rights with cisgender women’s rights, dismissing trans people entirely isn’t the answer. It is important to note that Rowling is not alone in her thoughts; she represents an entire ideology that trans people are somehow imposters and that their existence somehow threatens the rights and well-being of cisgender women.

The truth is that her comments don’t really say much about anything at all except what Rowling personally thinks—and we already knew that from previous tweets where she expressed support for TERFs (trans-exclusionary radical feminists). But even if you disagree with what Rowling said, it’s still important to understand why it matters when celebrities make statements like this one because they can have far-reaching consequences.

J.K. Rowling’s comments matter because they perpetuate harmful stereotypes about trans individuals and reinforce negative attitudes toward them in society at large–not just among readers but also among people who may not even have read any Harry Potter books themselves. People will use these tweets as an excuse to deny equal rights or treatment under the law, just like they’ve done before with racial issues.

Dehumanize transgender people

This kind of thinking is dangerous because it creates an environment where violence against transgender people is justified—and even encouraged. In 2021, at least 57 transgender or gender non-conforming people were fatally shot or killed by other violent means. This is according to HRC.org, which notes that this figure may be higher because many stories go unreported, or misreported, and many victims are misgendered by police or news reports.

This is why issues like J.K. Rowling’s transphobic comments matter so much. They’re part of a cultural and social framework that dehumanizes transgender people.

Another thing that makes this situation even worse is how much power celebrities like Rowling have over their fans. If someone with millions of followers says something offensive, then there will inevitably follow a wave of hate coming from those who believe whatever their idol says without question – especially when it comes to sensitive topics such as gender identity, which many people still don’t understand.

In doing so, Rowling has not only insulted the trans community but also her fans who identify as such by saying that they are invalid and do not exist. This could potentially lead some of them down dangerous paths where they may feel suicidal due to being made to feel worthless because their favorite author does not accept their identity.

Final thoughts

As members of the LGBTQ+ community, we have a responsibility to look out for one another. This means calling out harmful rhetoric when we hear it. In the case of J.K. Rowling’s recent comments, this is absolutely necessary.

We must not sit by and allow the transphobic ideas of those with power and influence to spread unchecked — especially when those ideas could potentially lead to violent behavior by those less powerful who don’t know better. If we are silent when others perpetuate hate speech, then we are complicit in its perpetuation.

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