She may have written the famous tale of the boy who lived, but on Thursday Harry Potter's creator hit the headlines for a very different reason. JK Rowling has been accused of transphobia after tweeting her support for a researcher sacked for using “offensive and exclusionary” language towards the trans community. Some of her fans and followers said they were “disappointed” to see her tweet such views and some questioned the effect it would have on the genderqueer and trans children who read her books.
Rowling wrote on her twitter account on Thursday: “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. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?” and added the hashtags #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill. Her tweet refers to an employment tribunal in which researcher Maya Forstater was appealing her employer's decision to terminate her contract after she tweeted that transgender women cannot change their biological sex.
Forstater lost the tribunal, with Judge James Taylor ruling: “I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
The case has been hotly discussed online with the likes of broadcaster Sonia Poulton and former Olympian Sharron Davies coming out in support of Forstater and using the #IStandWithMaya. However, there has also been a major backlash to both Forstater's views and now Rowling's support of her. One Twitter user wrote, “as a gay man that found safety in Hogwarts throughout my childhood — knowing that Trans people wouldn’t be able to have that safety breaks my heart.” Another said: “I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears... Why. Why?”
Similarly campaigner for trans rights and journalist Paris Lees wrote, “being overweight is 'real' but it’s still deeply unpleasant and completely unnecessary to go around calling people 'fat.' Really disappointed to see you defend a culture of relentless bullying that contributes to nearly half of young trans people in the UK attempting suicide.”