Ian McEwan claims ‘biology not always destiny’ following trans row
The author received criticism after making a series of bizarre comments regarding gender.
Award-winning author Ian McEwan has written an open letter stating “biology is not always destiny” after causing upset with comments over trans people last weekend.
The popular writer said he wrote the letter to make his stance clear on the issue, adding that a person’s right to choose their gender “should be respected and celebrated”.
Speaking at the Royal Institute on Saturday, the Atonement author caused outrage after referring to trans women as “men”.
When asked to clarify the comments by a member of the audience, McEwan said: “Call me old-fashioned, but I tend to think of people with penises as men.
“For example, some men in full possession of a penis are now identifying as women and demanding entry to women-only colleges, and the right to change in women’s dressing rooms,” he added.
His comments were quickly criticised by campaigners, with Stonewall condemning McEwan’s “uninformed views” as “extremely sad”.
McEwan has now attempted to explain himself in a letter published by The Guardian, saying if trans people “want or need to abandon their birth gender or radically redefine it,” they should be “respected and celebrated”.
“It’s an extension of freedom and the possibilities of selfhood,” McEwan wrote.
“Everyone should deplore the discrimination that transgender communities have suffered around the world,” he added.
He went on to say that he “can shed no useful light” on the debate between feminists and the trans community, despite his previous comments on the subject.
The Man Booker winner also criticised “journalists, trans-activists and others” for not finding out his “actual views on sexual identity.
“Perhaps my own opinions would have got in the way of a good story, or the opportunity to be righteous and cross – or venomous in some cases,” the author writes.
Despite his efforts to apologise, Stonewall released a fresh statement saying that McEwan’s earlier comments “do nothing to help their (the trans community) situation and in fact further isolate them and entrench transphobic attitudes.”
Last year, feminist Germaine Greer also caused outrage after claiming she did not accept that post-operative men were women.