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After a lengthy Twitter absence, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling returned today to tweet her support for transphobic researcher Maya Forstater, and affirm her own belief that assigned sex is real and immutable.
Dress however you please.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
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? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
“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?” Rowling tweeted. She equates gender with assigned sex and reduces trans people’s gender identities to a kind of performance.
Rowling’s tweet was quickly mocked on the platform.
Harry Potter and the Wrong Side of History (2019) pic.twitter.com/PRw9heyQAK— It's Not Disney. It's Disney Prime Video. (@GetDisneyPrime) December 19, 2019
Someone please take away the keys to JK Rowling's Twitter account pic.twitter.com/aD0ddVqDMk— Yes, You're Racist (@YesYoureRacist) December 19, 2019
JK Rowling at JK Rowling at— 📚𝕃𝕁𝕎ℝ🍿 Lewis (@_LJWR) December 19, 2019
The start of vs. The end of the
The decade Decade pic.twitter.com/Th4ob7x63Z
Forstater, whose contract with an international think tank wasn’t renewed after she expressed transphobic sentiments on Twitter, lost her case with the employment tribunal. The judge ruled that her beliefs about gender did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.” This result has spawned several hashtags on Twitter, including #IStandWithMaya and #ThisIsNotADrill by people who share her transphobic beliefs and defend her actions. These Twitter users also declare the judge’s ruling a threat to freedom of speech and women’s rights in general.
#IStandWithMaya I don’t! Shes transphobic and is a TERF. Just like JK Rowling. You’re entitled to believe whatever you want to believe but to openly spew bigotry and to imply thats trans women are predators is gross pic.twitter.com/ujInzqAZjv— tyler (@tyleranny) December 19, 2019
Several Twitter users claim that Rowling’s tweet misrepresents what the case was about to the point of gaslighting, as it casts Forstater’s case as one of freedom of speech when it was really an attempt to grant transphobia protected status under the law in the same way that religions currently have in the UK.
This was essentially an attempt at creating a UK version of US "religious freedom" laws. That's what this case ostensibly was; codifying in law that discrimination against or hatred of transgender people is legally protected. pic.twitter.com/yhiFWiBLtd— CowseyMoosplosion (@CaseyExplosion) December 19, 2019
This will be a test case to establish that "gender-critical" views are protected beliefs. pic.twitter.com/QO8xR1ACKt— CowseyMoosplosion (@CaseyExplosion) December 19, 2019
Don't let the narrative about this be— Natalie (@Transsomething) December 19, 2019
"JK Rowling in internet spat about whether trans women are women"
This is "JK Rowling stands with woman who lost court case about her choice to be abusive towards trans people in her workplace, so her contract was not renewed"
Also, It is both a scientific and medical fact that intersex individuals do exist and gender is not as binary as mainstream society is set to believe. There have been documented cases of patients born with genetically male 46 XY karyotype who have gotten pregnant and gave birth.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) December 19, 2019
Rowling has a long history of liking transphobic tweets and then answering evasively when questioned on it, seemingly trying to express support for the TERF movement without losing the support of her fans who oppose them. However, this tweet and its contents are unequivocal in their support of the TERF position, and Rowling won’t be able to back down from it by saying she “had a middle-aged moment” and liked the wrong tweet as she has in the past.
jk rowling has been a terf this whole time which people would know if they actually listened to trans women— rose ⚢ (@spacialesbian) December 19, 2019
1. JK Rowling has always been a terf, but just admitted it out loud— St. Vincent Price (@muddaub) December 19, 2019
2. do NOT show your support for trans people by quoting JK Rowling of all people, jesus fucking christ pic.twitter.com/W9j0tCIZV7
JK Rowling has always been a TERF so I don't know why people are acting shocked???— Kolleen Queen of the Tuck Tuck Sound CH (@KolleenCarney) December 19, 2019
I don't want to retweet JK Rowling ever but let's be clear: if someone tells you what gender they are and you ignore it and pretend they are another gender then yes that is workplace bullying and there is something incredibly wrong with your basic interaction skills.— Hazel Southwell (@HSouthwellFE) December 19, 2019
While many are saying that Rowling’s views have been obvious for a long time, others are reeling from this revelation and saying it’s the final nail in the coffin of their fandom.
I know a lot of my followers on here hate them, but I LOVED the Harry Potter books growing up (& as an adult). They transported me away to a world of magic and acceptance, and they will always have a special place in my heart. But JK Rowling is a disgusting TERF. Call her out.— Dylan Lewis (@IAmDylanLewis) December 19, 2019
As a Huffleclaw, I can not condone the batshit crazy views of @jk_rowling. So I'm going to think 2x about how I spend my $ towards Harry Potter in the future. Winky, please remove her portrait from the Headmaster's office and go put her IN Mrs. Black's portrait permanently! pic.twitter.com/wkrESqIDmt— Hogwarts Pop Culture Professor (@TrackSuitsOn) December 19, 2019
If I were @jk_rowling, and I saw the people who are cheering that statement, and the nasty, cruel victory laps they are taking, I would seriously reconsider my position. When you make that many vile people happy, lauding you for “saying something sane at last,” it’s a bad sign. pic.twitter.com/wb8aul0fXp— Emma Jameson (@msemmajameson) December 19, 2019
Did Dolores Umbridge write this?— Bess Kalb (@bessbell) December 19, 2019
Meanwhile, other Twitter users are out here reminding disappointed fans that there are other beloved young adult authors who not only haven’t come out with transphobic statements but actually feature LGBTQ+ and other marginalized characters in their work. Suggestions include K.A. Applegate—author of the Animorphs—Rick Riordan, and Tamora Pierce.
while JK Rowling is off TERFing it up, KA Applegate has been over here, calmly stating "all war is bad," "overthrow unjust governments," and "trans rights"— Home 4 the Paulidays (@NotLikeFreddy) December 19, 2019
In light of JK Rowling saying "fuck it, mask off" and being a TERF, support Rick Riordan, who has non binary representation, K.A. Applegate, who's a great person.— Alex ❄️ (@TheTasteOfALiar) December 19, 2019
Feel free to add on to this with others but just a reminder that not all your childhood authors are terrible.
Thanks. Yes, I had the crazy idea that I should write as if POC and gay and trans people actually existed, though I was behind the curve on trans characters til some kid on Twitter asked me about it. Also have not done a good job with disabilities. Working on it.— Michael Grant (@MichaelGrantBks) December 19, 2019
Tamora Pierce has been making strong efforts in recent years to improve and learn more about how feminism is evolving. Instead of hunkering down and insisting how great she is and doesn't need to change, she's listening and learning. I really respect that.— OrangeGoth 🍊🦇🎃 (@ThatAuntZelda) December 19, 2019
Siobhan Ball is a historian, archivist, and journalist. She also writes for Autostraddle and bi.org