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Football legend Neville Southall brands JK Rowling ‘dangerous’ as he comes out swinging for trans rights

Josh Milton September 15, 2020
Neville Southall. (AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Neville Southall. (AMA/Corbis via Getty Images)

Neville Southall offered his enduring support for trans rights as he emphatically said: “You have the right to discover your real self.”

In an interview with The Guardian on Tuesday (15 September), Southall, a former Welsh footballer who has emerged as a spirited LGBT+ and sex worker ally in recent years, accused JK Rowling of being a fantasy writer who thinks being trans is a “sin”.

He also upbraided the treatment by track’s governing body of Caster Semenya as well as intersex athletes for imposing regulations that will force the 800 metres sprinter to take testosterone-suppressing supplements, calling it an “absolute disgrace”.

Rowling’s upcoming book, a thinly-veiled plot about a man who dresses as a woman to commit murders, ran into an immediate buzzsaw of opposition from LGBT+ groups.

Many criticised the author for penning a book after months of explosive and controversial blog posts and tweets on the subject of trans rights that have left many Harry Potter fans shaken and transphobic groups emboldened.

Neville Southall: ‘Trans people have the right to discover their real selves.’

“Lots of people think it’s a sin to be trans,” Southall mused. “I looked at JK Rowling’s reaction to transgender women. She above everybody knows what fantasy is.

“So she must be able to imagine that some people are born in the wrong bodies. We never question a child that is born as a conjoined twin.

“But we question that somebody can be born in the wrong body. That happens because we can’t see in somebody’s brain, or soul, to understand how they feel.”

Southall admitted his own bandwidth on trans rights, speaking as a cis man, but said: “I know people should be allowed to live the lives they want within reason.

Neville Southall. (Phil Cole/Allsport via Getty Images)
Neville Southall. (Phil Cole/Allsport via Getty Images)

“If you’re born into a male body but you feel so strongly that you’re a female, why should I stop you?

“Your body is just a shell. You have a right to discover your real self.”

The former Everton keeper then took aim at Rowling. He said that her torrent of trans comments “do not help”.

“She’s sold loads of books and she’s obviously got talent,” he reflected, “but maybe she’s of an age where she doesn’t have knowledge about trans issues and maybe she’s scared of it.

“If you don’t understand something and you start talking out loud against it that’s dangerous,” the 61-year-old, some six years older than Rowling but with a compassionate understanding of transness, said.

Former footballer says Caster Semenya being forced to alter her hormones is a ‘disgrace’.

Moreover, Southall threw his support towards the South African middle-distance runner Semenya, who has been dragged into the crosshairs of a debate over gender identity and sports that has spanned several court cases.

Caster Semenya (C) and her lawyer arrive for a landmark hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (HAROLD CUNNINGHAM/AFP via Getty Images)
Caster Semenya (C) and her lawyer arrive for a landmark hearing at the Court of Arbitration for Sport. (HAROLD CUNNINGHAM/AFP via Getty Images)

Semenya’s dreams of competing in the upcoming Tokyo Olympic Games were nixed when the Swedish courts sided with World Athletics and rejected her appeal. As a result, she must alter her natural hormone levels to appease lesser athletes.

“They’re making her take drugs to dilute her testosterone,” Southall said.

“It’s an absolute disgrace to give her tablets so she can’t be who she is. They’re basically saying: ‘You’re too good so you’ve got to take these tablets to slow you down.’

“That’s not fair. You wouldn’t say that to Usain Bolt.

“We need some massively serious debates about gender because nobody seems to be able to come up with a definitive answer.”

More: Caster Semenya, football, Harry Potter, JK Rowling, Neville Southall, Trans, trans rights, transphobia, Wales

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