JK Rowling is again facing allegations of transphobia

JK Rowling is in hot water again.

It seems the Harry Potter author — whose latest claim to fame has been getting accused by many of transphobia after wading into controversial discussions about gender and biological sex — is once again the topic of criticism. This time, it's due to just-revealed details about her new novel (for adults, written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith), Troubled Blood.

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The stars from left to right; Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson with the author J K Rowling arrive for world premiere of 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone at the Odeon Leicester Square in London.
Harry Potter author J.K Rowling signs a fans shirt at the Waterstone`s book shop in Edinburgh as she launches her new book Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix.
Author, Joanne Kathleen Rowling, 34, (J K Rowling) at Kings Cross Station London at the launch of her new Harry Potter book, 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire'. The fourth book, in series of seven which have now combined sold more than 35 million copies. * The Goblet of Fire has achieved advanced sales of two million. 25/11/2000: JK Rowling's latest Harry Potter offering has been pipped to a children's book prize by a re-telling of the classic A Pilgrim's Progress. Geraldine McCaughrean's version of John Bunyan's work scooped the first ever Blue Peter Book Of The Year Award. * 16/02/2001 dated 8/7/00 of Harry Potter author Joanne Kathleen Rowling. Teenage wizard Harry Potter has enchanted library users by sweeping to the top of the lending league for children's books, figures showed Friday February 16, 2001. JK Rowling's best-selling creation took the first three places for kids' books in the annual round-up of reads with Harry Potter and The Philospher's Stone at number one.
Author JK Rowling (2nd right) with director alfonso Cuaron and the stars from left to right, Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe at the UK premiere of Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban at the Odeon Leicester Square in Central London, the third film from author JK Rowling's series of books on the boy wizard.
Whitney Stanbra, 6, from Basingstoke poses with a 'Platform 9 and 3/4' sign beside a special WAGN Harry Potter train arrives on Platform 9 at King's Cross station in London before beginning its first ever passenger journey from London King's Cross to Cambridge. * King's Cross station plays a leading role in the film 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone' which is released at cinemas across the country.
A special WAGN Harry Potter train arrives on Platform 9 at King's Cross station in London before beginning its first ever passenger journey from London King's Cross to Cambridge. King's Cross station plays a leading role in the film 'Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone'. * ... which is released at cinemas across the country.
Actors Robbie Coltrane (rear), and (from left) Rupert Grint Emma Watson and Warwick Davis at Kingscross Station, central London, for the Harry Potter & The Philosopher's Stone - DVD & video launch party.
Stars from the latest Harry Potter film 'Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets' (from left) Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Rupert Grint, during a photocall at the Guildhall, London, to promote the new film.
Daniel Radcliffe, who plays Harry Potter (left) with the characters creator JK Rowling (centre) and co-star Emma Watson as they arrive for the celebrity film premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.
The cast, crew and author arrive for the celebrity film premiere of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets at the Odeon Leicester Square in London's West End.
The stars of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, from left to right; Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson during the worldwide launch of the DVD/VHS at Leavesden Studios in north London.
The cast and crew of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets during the worldwide launch of the DVD/VHS at Leavesden Studios in north London.
Five girls head the queue outside Waterstones in Piccadilly, London for the eagerly awaited fifth installment of Harry Potter. The girls (from left) Suzanna Dickson, Stevie Finegan, Savannah Mazda, Vienna Francis-Mullins and Sinead Miller, * .. all from London, have been waiting for nearly eight hours to ensure they get a copy of Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix. harrypottergal
The stars, from left to right; Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint pose for photographers during a photocall to promote the new Harry Potter movie 'Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban' at The Gladstone Library in central London.
MTV presenter Dave Berry (left) with Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson during their guest appearance on MTV TRL UK at the MTV Studios's in Camden.
Star of the film Daniel Radcliffe arrives for the UK premiere of Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban at the Odeon Leicester Square in Central London, the third film from author JK Rowling's series of books on the boy wizard.
Emma Watson, J.K Rowling, Rupert Grint and Daniel Radcliffe arriving at the premiere of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Leicester Square, London ©Doug Peters/allactiondigital.
Author JK Rowling (centre right) and stars of the film Daniel Radcliffe (left), Rupert Grint and Emma Watson arrive for the UK premiere of Harry Potter And The Prisoner of Azkaban at the Odeon Leicester Square in Central London, the third film from author JK Rowling's series of books on the boy wizard.
(From left to right) Rupert Grint (Ron), Emma Watson (Hermione), and Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) arrive for the Global DVD & VHS Launch party of Harry Potter And The Prisoner Of Azkaban, at Middle Temple in central London
JK Rowling arrives at Edinburgh Castle for the Launch party for her latest Harry Potter Book, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
Jennifer Ellison, Hagrid and Professor Dumbledore during a visit to hand out copies of the new Harry Potter book, which was released at midnight.
Fans brave the rain outside the Odeon cinema in London's Leicester Square in anticipation of the arrivals for the world premiere of the new film 'Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire', Sunday November 6, 2005. See PA story SHOWBIZ Potter. PRESS ASSOCIATION photo. Photo credit should read: Yui Mok/PA.
The Harry Potter films win the Empire Outstanding Contribution Award at the Sony Ericsson Empire Film Awards 2006, from the Hilton London Metropole, central London, Monday 13 March 2006. See PA story SHOWBIZ Empire. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Photo credit should read: Ian West/PA
The cast of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix, (left to right) Rupert Grint, Emma Watson, and Daniel Radcliffe, on the Thames Terrace of County Hall in south London, ahead of the European premiere of the film next week.
Emma Watson arrives for the UK Premiere of Harry Potter And The Order Of The Phoenix at the Odeon Leicester Square, central London.
Emma Watson arriving at the European Premiere of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Odeon Cinema, Leicester Square, London.
JK Rowling at the launch of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows at The Natural History Museum in London
The cast of Harry Potter receive the award for Best Family Film for Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix during The National Movie Awards at the Royal Festival Hall, central London.
(from left to right) Tom Felton, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe, Bonnie Wright and Jessie Cave are seen at a photocall to launch the new film, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, at Claridges Hotel in central London.
Rupert Grint (left), Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe (right) arriving for the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.
Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe arrive for the world premiere of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince at the Odeon Leicester Square, London.
(left to right) Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, JK Rowling and Rupert Grint arriving for the World Premiere of Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows : Part One, at the Odeon West End, Leicester Square, London.
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"The meat of the book is the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer," wrote reviewer Jake Kerridge in the Telegraph. "One wonders what critics of Rowling's stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: Never trust a man in a dress."

The response, so far, has been negative, with "#RIPJKRowling" trending on Twitter, as she's called out with a mix of anger and exasperation — not only for using the well-worn and damaging trope of the transgender serial killer (á la Psycho, Dressed to Kill, Silence of the Lambs and more) in her new book, but for doing so on the heels of her most recent public row about transgender identity, which is being viewed by her critics as a bizarre doubling down.

Rowling sparked accusations of transphobia back in December 2019, when she tweeted in defence of a researcher, Maya Forstater, who had lost her job after expressing views on transgender people — including the belief that "it is impossible to change sex" — that were deemed "not worthy of respect in a democratic society." After the woman filed a discrimination lawsuit and lost, Rowling came to her defence on Twitter, noting, "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like ... But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?"

That caused a huge uproar among many in the LGBTQ community, who called her out with comments from "heartbreaking" to "TERF". The latter is an acronym that stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist", a pejorative term used to describe a feminist who is considered to have transphobic beliefs. Still, others came to Rowling's defence, with feminist writer Julie Bindel, for example, noting, "YOU ARE AMAZING".

Then, just when the angry buzz seemed to have died down a bit, Rowling returned to Twitter in June, when she shared an op-ed and apparently took issue with the headline: "Opinion: Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate." With her tweet, she noted, "'People who menstruate', I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

And there was more:

The tweets re-sparked rage, hurt and allegations of transphobia, including from a range of LGBTQ activists, and from organisations including the Trevor Project and GLAAD.

Then, shortly thereafter, Rowling published a lengthy piece on her website, tweeting it with the caption "TERF Wars" and adding even more fuel to the fire.

"This isn't an easy piece to write, for reasons that will shortly become clear, but I know it's time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity. I write this without any desire to add to that toxicity," she wrote, and then outlined "five reasons for being worried about the new trans activism." Then came more tweets, in July, calling out the long-term health risks of hormone therapy used to facilitate gender transition. Yet another backlash followed.

Now, with this latest bit of news about Rowling's new book, the hurt has been stoked, say her detractors.

Still, some have come out in her defence — most notably actor Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the Harry Potter films and told Radio Times of the outcry, "I don't think what she said was offensive really. I don't know why but there's a whole Twitter generation of people who hang around waiting to be offended." Other defenders include journalist Kim Willsher, Atlantic staff writer Helen Lewis and writers Helen Dale and Andrew Doyle, as well as the U.K. group (which, too, has been called transphobic) LGB Alliance.

Still, many say their view of Rowling has been forever tainted, especially in light of the latest book. That includes USA Today culture critic Kelly Lawler, who wrote on Tuesday that, while she's been a longtime fan of all her fiction, "ever since Rowling made headlines this summer for her comments on transgender rights that have been widely condemned as transphobic, I can't see any story she's written in the same light ... You can't separate the art from the artist. Not anymore, not when the tone of both author and novel is the same. Rowling maintains she supports trans people, but we can only judge her by her actions and words. After reading 927 pages of them, I'm not inclined to change my judgement."

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