J.K. Rowling, the famed author behind the Harry Potter franchise, is back in the news following a two-year-long saga about her views on the transgender community.
While the writer has been under scrutiny by trans activists since 2019, this week she revealed that things have escalated into death threats.
On Monday, Rowling, 55, retweeted a threat from a since-deleted Twitter account that said, “I wish you a very nice pipebomb in mailbox.”
“To be fair, when you can’t get a woman sacked, arrested or dropped by her publisher, and cancelling her only made her book sales go up, there’s really only one place to go,” she wrote.
When a user asked if the threat was, in part, because of comments she made about the trans community, Rowling confirmed “yes.”
“Hundreds of trans activists have threatened to beat, rape, assassinate and bomb me,” she said, saying that she’s since “realised that this movement poses no risk to women whatsoever.”
The recent tweets are the latest in an ongoing series of offenses and defenses about her views on gender.
In December 2019, Rowling gave public support to Maya Forstater, a U.K. woman who was fired for transphobic tweets after a judge ruled that her views were not protected under Britain’s antidiscrimination laws.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security,” the writer tweeted. “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?
Last month, Forstater later won an appeal to her case and posted a video to YouTube thanking Rowling for her support.
In May 2020, Rowling made headlines again when she accidentally tweeted a message with an expletive that misgendered a trans woman named Tara Wolf.
Wolf was convicted in 2017 of assaulting a woman she referred to as a TERF (“trans-exclusionary radical feminist”), which is a term used to describe anti-trans feminists or women who exclude trans women in conversations about women’s rights.
Rowling apologized for the tweet and later deleted it.
On June 6, 2020, Rowling went viral yet again when she retweeted an op-ed discussing menstruation, taking issue with the fact that the story didn’t use the word “women.”
Soon after, trans activists and allies began accusing her of being a TERF, many of them her loyal fans. Rowling followed up with a series of tweets defending her position:
“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she added. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”
She continued: “The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women — ie, to male violence — ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences — is a nonsense.”
“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. 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.”
The response from fans was extreme, and even included Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne chimed in — all of them denouncing her comments and supporting people to learn more about the trans movement.
Rowling would later elaborate in a lengthy post on her website expressing that her views were partly motivated because of her experience with domestic abuse and sexual assault.
“I’ve been in the public eye now for over 20 years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor,” she wrote. “This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember.”
“I’m mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces,” she wrote, later noting that she was motivated to address these issues on Twitter because she thinks “we’re living through the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced.”
Two months later, Rowling was asked to return an award given to her by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) group due to her controversial views.
“As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community,” Rowling said in a statement on her website.
“I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience,” she added.
Following this week’s tweets, a slew of followers weighed in on their own opinions from both sides. Here are a few:
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