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In a plot twist nobody saw coming, JK Rowling is facing a severe backlash over her new ‘cross-dressing serial killer’ book

Reiss Smith September 15, 2020
JK Rowling

JK Rowling at a human rights awards ceremony in New York, December 12, 2019. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

JK Rowling found herself on the receiving end of a severe backlash – again – after an early review revealed that her new book features a cis male serial killer who likes to dress as a woman.

Troubled Blood, released under Rowling’s Robert Galbraith pseudonym, was described by a Telegraph review as a “book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress”.

Reviewer Jake Kerridge revealed that the “meat” of the 900-page novel is an investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of a woman believed the be the victim of a cross-dressing serial killer.

As news of the plot spread on Twitter, users expressed their profound disappointment in Rowling’s new literary direction.

Writer Paris Lees noted that while Rowling writes about a cross-dressing serial killer, ‘the number of trans people killed in Brazil has risen by 70 per cent this past year, young trans women are left to burn in cars and men who kill us (for being trans) are pardoned and sent home’.

Academic and writer Priyamvada Gopal wondered why the author had chosen a man dressed as a woman, when ‘the world is so full of evil beings and villainous forces’.

Writer Nick Cohen defended Troubled Blood, arguing that its ending negates ‘the claim it’s anti-trans’, but conceding that the author’s ‘enemies’ will ‘hate’ the book because ‘it is however very feminist’.

However YouTuber Kat Blaque took a different view. Simply that ‘JK Rowling could have just… not done all of this’.

GLAAD condemn ‘lazy’ cross-dresser trope.

GLAAD director of transgender representation Nick Adams noted that the book follows in a long tradition of “films, TV shows, and books using the ‘cross-dressing psychopathic killer’ trope”, which “have been created over and over by cisgender people”.

“This false and lazy storytelling device is based not in reality but in thinly-disguised homophobia and transphobia, and conflates gender non-conformity with evil,” Adams told PinkNews.

“Gender expression isn’t a danger to others. These false narratives put real transgender and gender non-conforming people in harm’s way.”

JK Rowling finished new book in December.

According to the Independent, Troubled Blood centres around a cis 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”.

It’s Rowling’s first adult novel to be released since she dove head-first into the conversation on trans lives with a heavily-criticised essay.

Titled “TERF Wars”, the essay saw the author explain that her new-found interest in trans lives was, in part, related to her Cormoran Strike series, of which Troubled Blood is the fifth entry.

“On one level, my interest in this issue has been professional, because I’m writing a crime series, set in the present day, and my fictional female detective is of an age to be interested in, and affected by, these issues herself,” she wrote.

“On another, it’s intensely personal,” she added, noting among other things her personal experience with domestic and sexual assault, and wrongly conflated gender identity with mental health.

The essay was published 10 June, five months after Rowling announced on Twitter she had finished the manuscript for what would become Troubled Blood, and six months after she spoke out on behalf of Maya Forstater – a woman who sought to have her “gender-critical” views protected under the UK Equalities Act.

More: JK Rowling, paris lees, Priyamvada Gopal, trans violence, transphobia, Troubled Blood

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