Trans rights are ‘greatest assault of my lifetime’ on women’s rights, says JK Rowling

JK Rowling writes about why she spoke up about transgender issues in an essay for a forthcoming book
JK Rowling writes about why she spoke up about transgender issues for a forthcoming book - Debra Hurford-Brown

JK Rowling said she spoke up about transgender issues because she believes she is witnessing “the greatest assault of my lifetime” on women’s rights and would have “felt ashamed for the rest of my days if I hadn’t”.

The 58-year-old Harry Potter author has previously been criticised for her staunch views on gender identity, but has always strongly denied accusations of transphobia.

She explained her belief in protecting women’s sex-based rights in an essay which features in The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht – a forthcoming book on Scotland’s battle for women’s rights.

“I’d come to believe that the socio-political movement insisting ‘trans women are women’ was neither kind nor tolerant, but in fact profoundly misogynistic, regressive, dangerous in some of its objectives and nakedly authoritarian in its tactics,” Rowling said, in an extract published in The Times.

She said she watched women campaign for their rights from the sidelines because “people around me, including some I love, were begging me not to speak” – but said the guilt caused her “chronic pain”.

“I believe that what is being done to troubled young people in the name of gender identity ideology is, indeed, a terrible medical scandal,” Rowling said.

“I believe we’re witnessing the greatest assault of my lifetime on the rights our foremothers thought they’d guaranteed for all women.

“Ultimately, I spoke up because I’d have felt ashamed for the rest of my days if I hadn’t. If I feel any regret at all, it’s that I didn’t speak far sooner.”

Since December 2019, Scotland-based Rowling has hit the headlines for her views on transgender issues.

‘Online monstering’

She came out in support of Maya Forstater, who worked as a tax expert at the Centre for Global Development, an international think tank, and was sacked after tweeting that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

Rowling described the backlash against her for supporting Ms Forstater as “vicious”.

“Nobody who’s been through an online monstering or a tsunami of death and rape threats will claim it’s fun, and I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than disturbing and frightening,” she said.

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, as well as Eddie Redmayne, who stars in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films, have spoken up over the years in their support of trans rights.

“People who’d worked with me rushed to distance themselves from me or to add their public condemnation of my blasphemous views (though I should add that many former and current colleagues have been staunchly supportive),” Rowling said in an extract from her essay.

“The thing is, those appalled by my position often fail to grasp how truly despicable I find theirs.”

The comments come after Rowling appeared to challenge Police Scotland to arrest her if her social media posts break new laws following the introduction of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act.

The force later confirmed it would take no action against the author.

The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht is a collection of more than 30 essays, edited by Susan Dalgety and Lucy Hunter Blackburn. It also features contributions from SNP MP Joanna Cherry and former prison governor Rhona Hotchkiss, who argues that “trans-identified male prisoners” do not belong in women’s prisons.