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There are two glaring yet very important omissions from JK Rowling’s rambling 3,691-word defence of her ‘gender critical’ views

Josh Milton June 11, 2020
Hachette JK Rowling in conversation

JK Rowling. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)

JK Rowling has responded to the piles of criticism stacked at her for her recent string of anti-trans tweets, but she leap-frogged over two very important criticisms levelled at her.

For weeks, Twitter timelines were vastly the same. A patchwork of users anxiously sharing the latest coronavirus death tolls, while others stridently called for donations to Black Lives Matter demonstrator bail funds and other Black grassroots organisations. Brutal footage of police violence lobbing tear gas canisters and firing rubber bullets punctuated social media feeds, flaked by the occasional “Happy Pride” announcement (or lack thereof).

This was the scene – a combination of a global viral pandemic, one of the biggest and most charged moments in the anti-racism movement and LGBT+ Pride Month – when JK Rowling tweeted a link to an open letter.

In a meandering 3,691-word-long slab of verbiage shared Wednesday evening (June 10), the author sketched out her views on trans rights. A kitchen-sink chronicle outlining the reasons for her involvement in the “gender-critical” movement, quickly decried as being grounded in misinformation.

JK Rowling slammed for thinking a global pandemic and sweeping Black Lives Matter protests is the best time to offend trans folk.

When Rowling decided last weekend to move away from her formerly stoop-sitting approach to trans lives, with a series of tweets ridiculing trans-inclusive language around periods and making other inflammatory statements about trans rights, people were quick to point out that her timing wasn’t exactly the best.

And this criticism didn’t vanish after she shared a blog post further explaining her stance. Instead, it intensified.

While Rowling’s multi-pronged essay responded to much of the feedback levelled at her, the 54-year-old did not address the reproval she faced for choosing to talk about trans folk in the throes of crises.

How she decided to share her views only days into LGBT+ Pride Month also dealt a devastating and almost symbolic blow to many queer folk.

Harry Potter author omits her views on ‘people who menstruate’, leaving a gaping hole in her statements. 

Moreover, Rowling’s essay lacked a reply to her stance on periods. After all, much of the backlash brewed against Rowling was seeded by her barbed comments towards the term “people who menstruate” which better reflects how trans men and intersex, genderqueer and non-binary people can have periods, too.

Rowling shared on June 6 an opinion piece with the headline: “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she tweeted. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Rowling’s suggestion that only cis women have periods became a lightning rod for criticism, prompting the writer’s ensuing Twitter thread and winding essay that served to only winnow further outrage.

After all, as much as the essay’s thousands of words peddle widely debunked myths and conflate trans rights advocacy to the Trump administration and incels, it doesn’t actually curve back to the original viewpoint that provoked the backlash to begin with.

Instead of directly addressing her criticism, she sought to defend herself by linking gender dysphoria to mental health problems and confessed that she wonders whether she may have transitioned if given the option when younger.

The abrupt saga that has unfolded around Rowling’s tweets has become a bracing tutorial in what, activists say, anti-trans views among the urbane can appear as. And as the author doubled-down on her stance, so too has the criticism being levelled at her.

More: anti-trans, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Trans

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