Social media users are criticising JK Rowling for posting a new “transphobic” tweet.
On Sunday (12 December), the Harry Potter author tweeted a link to a news story by The Times titled “Absurdity’ of police logging rapists as women” with a caption many have deemed “upsetting and disappointing”.
Reacting to the news, Rowling tweeted: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penis-ed Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.”
Subsequently, long-time Harry Potter fans, many of whom are members of the LGBTQ+ community and allies, called the author out for implying that “real women aren’t rapists” and “punching down” at a historically marginalised community.
Podcast host Rob Rousseau replied to Rowling’s tweet: “You literally have a castle and you spend your time doing this”
Noting the ambiguous definition of what constitutes rape in the UK, American YouTuber Kat Blaque tweeted: “Are the only people capable of rape and sexual assault men? Would you define rape solely by penetration? Is sexual violence inherently male?”
Twitter user Charlotte Reigh said: “I never EVER thought I’d see your name & feel anything but magic. But now I see it and I groan and think, ‘Oh, God, what horrible thing did she say about trans people now?’ Please just stop. We’re begging you! It’s so hurtful to people. Please stop causing pain.”
Rowling began trending in the UK after her tweet was retweeted over 12,000 times and liked over 48,000 times.
In June last year, Rowling sparked outrage for posting a series of tweets about menstruation that critics labelled “transphobic”. Taking offence at an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate”, she tweeted: “’People who menstruate’. I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
While many Twitter users supported Rowling, there were others – including numerous celebrities like Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness and Harry Potter stars Katie Leung and Rupert Grint – who criticised her comment as “anti-trans”, arguing that transgender, non-binary and non-gender conforming people can also menstruate.
The author’s 2020 novel Troubled Blood also became the subject of controversy last year, as the book centres around a cisgender male serial killer who fetishises women’s clothing, and in one instance in the book, disguises himself as a woman to trick the person he is abducting. Activists said the book’s anti-trans plot line could be harmful to the community.
In 2019, Rowling came out in support of researcher Maya Forstater, a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development who was fired for tweeting anti-trans comments like “men cannot change into women”.
At the time, Rowling condemned that Forstater was being “forced” out of her job for stating that “sex is real”.
If you have been raped or sexually assaulted, you can contact your nearest Rape Crisis organisation for specialist, independent and confidential support. For more information, visit their website here.