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Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and more than 1,000 literary heroes ‘put their names on the line’ for trans and non-binary people

Emma Powys Maurice October 9, 2020
Stephen King

Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman were among the letter's 1,800 signatories (Getty/Mike Coppola/Astrid Stawiarz/Ulf Andersen)

Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman have joined more than 1,800 American and Canadian literary figures in pledging their support for trans and non-binary people.

As JK Rowling’s explosive views on trans people continue to fuel debate on both sides of the Atlantic, the acclaimed writers added their names to a letter signed by hundreds of authors, publishers, editors and agents from across the literary world.

“As members of the writing and publishing community of the United States and Canada, we stand firmly in support of trans and non-binary people and their rights,” they declare.

“We are writers, editors, journalists, agents, and professionals in multiple forms of publishing. We believe in the power of words. We want to do our part to help shape the curve of history toward justice and fairness.

To that end, we say: non-binary people are non-binary, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights. Your pronouns matter. You matter. You are loved.”

Other signatories include the authors John Green, NK Jemisin, Roxane Gay and and Angie Thomas.

Author Maureen Johnson, who initiated the letter, said that while “letters do not fix things”, they are “designed to a) show support and b) bring awareness to an issue. In this case, the issue is transphobia in the publishing discourse and community.”

“When JK got involved in [trans rights] it gave a lot of legitimacy to something that before seemed fringey. It became more accepted, because people know JK from Harry Potter,” she told Publishers Weekly on Thursday.

“Sometimes you need to put your name on the line and say: ‘I don’t agree with what’s going on.'”

The letter is a companion to the one released by the UK and Irish publishing industry last week, forming a strong counterpoint to Rowling’s controversial views.

It was signed by some 200 literary figures, including Jeanette Winterson, Malorie Blackman, Joanne Harris, Juno Dawson, Elizabeth Day, Max Porter, Nikesh Shukla, Sara Collins, Irenosen Okojie, Mary Jean Chan, Naoise Dolan, Olivia Sudjic, Sharlene Teo and Patrick Ness.

It came days after 58 writers signed another letter, published by The Times, defending JK Rowling against “hate”.

 

 

More: JK Rowling, margaret atwood, Neil Gaiman, Publishing industry, Stephen King

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