J.K. Rowling is still transphobic, despite lackluster defense

An Op-Ed written by Pamela Paul sparks the debate over J.K. Rowling again.

J.K. Rowling is known for writing the “Harry Potter” series and crafting the Wizarding World that millions know and love. But more recently, she is also known for being a Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist (TERF) and expressing transphobic views.

The New York Times published an opinion piece by Pamela Paul titled, “In Defense of J.K. Rowling.” In the article, she portrays Rowling as a woman standing up for self-censored biological women who fear the transphobic and bigoted accusations that Rowling currently receives. Paul paints Rowling as a feminist martyr.

Rowling is not a martyr. Liking a few tweets and expressing feminist views online does not make anyone a martyr. Rowling is, however, a woman using her platform to express her feminism in a way that directly damages the LGBTQ+ community, specifically transgender as well as non-binary people. She is a woman with an extremely large following, scoffing at the idea of using gender inclusive language, such as her “skepticism about phrases like ‘people who menstruate,’” as stated by Paul, in favor of the non-inclusive title “women.”

Paul attempts to absolve Rowling of any fault by inserting a quote from Phelps-Roper, the host of a podcast delving into interviews with Rowling. “‘A lot of people think that Rowling is using her privilege to attack a vulnerable group,’ [Phelps-Roper] said. ‘But she sees herself as standing up for the rights of a vulnerable group.’” Standing up for one marginalized group of people at the expense of another does not absolve that person of anything. Rowling punches down on the transgender community when she propagates views such as “the right to spaces for biological women only, such as domestic abuse shelters and sex-segregated prisons,” which Paul states is one reason why people accuse Rowling of transphobia.

Paul also defends Rowling’s support of “detransitioners and feminist scholars, who have come under attack from trans activists.” Supporting detransitioners and feminists is great — until they begin spouting transphobic rhetoric and TERF ideals. A person can share their experiences without hurting a group of people fighting for recognition and validity.

Although Rowling is not “disputing the existence of gender dysphoria” or voicing “opposition to allowing people to transition under evidence-based therapeutic and medical care” or “denying transgender people equal pay or housing,” the views she has expressed still make a huge impact due to her large following. Her feminist views that exclude transgender, agender and non-binary people still hurt the LGBTQ+ community. Many members of the LGBTQ+ community have discovered that their favorite childhood author does not believe they should have equal rights as others.

Paul mentions one idea in her piece that I agree with: Rowling does not deserve death threats or threats against her family. I don’t believe that doxxing her address or threatening physical or sexual violence against Rowling or her family solves the problems at hand. If anything, it exacerbates the situation and takes away from people trying to give their support to the marginalized communities being attacked.

In short, there is no defense for Rowling. Trans-exclusion is transphobia and if she does not support trans rights, then I don’t support Rowling.

Post Author: Shelby Hiens