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Trans activists condemn The Sun for ‘cruel and misogynistic’ treatment of JK Rowling

Vic Parsons June 15, 2020
Authors quit JK Rowling agency over its failure to support trans rights

Four authors have quite JK Rowling's writing agency over its refusal to publicly affirm its commitment to trans rights. (Getty/The Foreign and Commonwealth Office)

More than 60 trans and non-binary writers, charity bosses, academics, lawyers and community leaders have signed an open letter condemning The Sun for its “dangerous, cruel, malicious and misogynistic” treatment of JK Rowling.

The performance artist Travis Alabanza, writer and journalist Shon Faye, author Andrea Lawlor, emergency medicine doctor Dr Ronx, comedian Sofie Hagen and Vogue columnist Kuchenga are among those who signed the open letter, which was sent to The Sun Monday (June 15).

We write to you in shock and dismay at the abhorrent front page of The Sun newspaper in which you gave voice to JK Rowling’s abuser,” the letter to editor Victoria Newton begins.

Misogyny is a pervasive force and one that treats survivors and victims of sexual and domestic violence as bylines to their abusers story.

“We stand alongside JK Rowling in this cruel and malicious reporting, which sends a dangerous message to all survivors that their stories are only valid when corroborated by their abusers.

“It sends a message to all survivors of domestic and sexual violence that they will not be believed, and it is dangerous.”

‘We stand alongside JK Rowling.’

Nim Ralph, a trans campaigner who coordinated the open letter, told PinkNews that they were “horrified” when they saw The Sun’s story, which they described as a “callous act of misogyny”.

“Straight away, I saw my trans-dominated Twitter feed fill up with outpourings of rage and sympathy on her behalf and I knew how important it was that we raise our voices collectively and in solidarity,” Ralph said.

“We stand alongside JK Rowling and all victims and survivors of gender-based violence. It might surprise some, given the impact of her words on the trans community.

“I was as hurt as the next trans person by her essay. But our struggles are connected.

“We have always been here in the fight against misogyny and gender-based violence; we will always speak up against it and fight back where we see it.

“Patriarchy is our shared oppressor.”

The Sun condemned by leading trans voices for interviewing ex-husband of JK Rowling.

The newspaper has been widely criticised for publishing, on Friday (June 12), a front-page story platforming Rowling’s ex-husband, who she has accused of domestic abuse.

Accusations that the tabloid’s article glorified domestic violence have also been levelled at The Sun by domestic abuse charities.

The story came in the wake of Rowling’s personal essay explaining her anti-trans views and included the disclosure that she is a surviver of domestic abuse.

Though her disclosure of domestic violence came in the middle of a long post detailing her anti-trans views, this does nothing to alter our unwavering solidarity with all survivors of domestic violence including JK Rowling,” the open letter continues.

“We condemn your appalling and salacious front page; a violation of both dignity and privacy.

“Vulnerable groups should not be used to sell newspapers.

“As trans people we often fall victim to the same salacious reporting and stand against all misogyny and violence against women.”

Trans activists call on The Sun to apologise to JK Rowling.

The Sun, owned by Rupert Murdoch, is one of several UK newspapers that regularly platforms those with anti-trans views.

The paper has already received more than 500 complaints about the story, and now trans activists are calling for The Sun to apologise to JK Rowling.

The signatories to the letter make three key demands of The Sun: that the paper commits to following the IPSO-approved Level Up Guidelines on reporting on domestic violence; retracts the story, apologises to Rowling and dedicates print and online space to advertising domestic-violence services; and that Rupert Murdoch, Rebekah Brooks and Victoria Newton personally apologise for the story and are held to account for their role in it.

In response to criticism, The Sun defended its editorial decision, insisting that it had not meant to glorify domestic abuse.

“We were disgusted by the comments of JK Rowling’s husband, and branded him ‘sick’ and ‘unrepentant’ in our coverage,” a spokesperson said.

“It was certainly not our intention to ‘glorify’ or ‘enable’ domestic abuse, our intention was to expose a perpetrator’s total lack of remorse. Our sympathies are always with the victims.”

List of signatories.

Shon Faye, writer 

Christine Burns MBE, author and retired campaigner

Travis Alabanza, artist

Roz Kaveney, poet and novelist

Juno Dawson, author and screenwriter

Rae Spoon, musician and writer

Kuchenga, writer

Neil McDonald MBE, campaigner

Emma Frankland, artist and writer

Nim Ralph, activist and writer

Cara English, head of public engagement, Gendered Intelligence

Maria Munir, trans lead, Amnesty Rainbow Network

Jo Gower, vice chair of Amnesty UK’s Rainbow Network

Dr Ronx, emergency medicine doctor, TV presenter

Dr Sam Martin, University of Oxford

Meg-John Barker, writer

Dr Harry Josephine Giles, writer and performer 

Chay Brown, co-founder TransActual UK

Mia Violet, author

Rudy Loewe, visual artist

Mika Minio-Paluello, economist

Dr Ben Vincent, PhD

CN Lester

Freddy McConnell, journalist and writer

Dr Ruth Pearce, Trans Learning Partnership

Dr Natacha Kennedy, Goldsmiths College

Michelle O’Toole, What The Trans podcast

Andrea Di Giovanni, singer-songwriter and performer

Dr Jay Stewart, CE, Gendered Intelligence 

Adi Daly-Gourdialsing, head of patient services, Gender GP

Riley Coles

Juliet Jacques, writer and filmmaker 

Fox Fisher, author and co-director of My Genderation 

Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir (Owl), co-director of My Genderation 

Tara Hewitt, co-founder Trans Equality Legal Initiative

Aidan Comerford, writer

Teddy Lamb, playwright and performer

Jamie Windust, writer

Alexa Moore, director of TransgenderNI 

Ted Lavis Coward, member of Queer House Party

Rory Finn, co-founder Trans Can Sport

Sabah Choudrey, trans youth worker, public speaker, writer

Liv Wynter, artist, support worker, refuge worker

Adrianne Elson, TransPride NI

Rokayah Abdulmajed, activist and secondary school teacher

Bethany Black

Sofie Hagen, comedian

Andrea Lawlor, writer

Claire Birkenshaw, Leeds Beckett University

Dr Isabel Waidner, University of Roehampton

Dr Bee Hughes, acting chair LJMU UCU, artist, educator and researcher

Kate Moross, creative director 

Sarah Savage, chair of TransPride Brighton

Wednesday Holmes, artist and community organiser 

Carla Ecola, founding director of The Outside Project and STAR Refuge

Dr Francis Ray White, University of Westminster

Dr Jennifer Fraser, University of Westminster

Dr Michael Toze, PhD

Dr Tray Yeadon-Lee, academic

Dr Onni Gust, University of Nottingham

Vic Valentine, Scottish Trans Alliance policy officer

James Morton, Scottish Trans Alliance manager

Becky Kaufmann, Scottish Trans Alliance justice policy officer

Oceana Maund, Scottish Trans Alliance community engagement office

Sahaf Hardouf, Kolot HaKeshet

More: andrea lwlor, dr ronx, JK Rowling, kuchenga, nim ralph, rebekah brooks, rupert murdoch, Shon Faye, sofie hagen, The Sun, Travis Alabanza, victoria newton

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