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Feminist icon Roxane Gay thinks JK Rowling was ‘rightly vilified’ after ‘painting herself as a victim’

Patrick Kelleher October 13, 2020
Roxane Gay JK Rowling

Roxane Gay (Gabriel Olsen/FilmMagic) and JK Rowling (Mike Marsland/Mike Marsland/WireImage)

Roxane Gay thinks Harry Potter author JK Rowling was “rightly vilified” when she tried to turn her explosive views on trans people into a “grand statement on gender”.

The queer author of Bad Feminist lambasted Rowling in an interview with The Irish Times.

“She’s been rightly vilified,” Gay said, when asked about the public backlash Rowling has faced since she publicised her trans views in a lengthy essay in June.

“She is painting herself as a victim, but she’s not. She’s a billionaire who has decided to pick on one of the most marginalised groups of people in the world.

“And she has done so by making her fears into some sort of grand statement about gender. It’s absurd. And it’s shocking, that she doesn’t get called out on it more by other writers.”

Roxane Gay previously signed an open letter in support of the trans community after JK Rowling made her problematic views public.

Gay’s comments come just days after she signed an open letter from the American and Canadian literary community pledging support to trans and non-binary people.

The powerful letter was signed by more than 1,800 high-profile literary figures, including Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Neil Gaiman.

The letter, while not directly addressing Rowling’s comments, was initiated by author Maureen Johnson over “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 fringe. It became more accepted, because people know JK from Harry Potter,” Johnson 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.'”

Gay has been a vocal advocate for trans rights for some time. Speaking to the New Statesman in 2019, the writer and commentator hit out at anti-trans feminists, saying they should “know better, having been marginalised as women throughout history and today”.

She is painting herself as a victim, but she’s not. She’s a billionaire who has decided to pick on one of the most marginalised groups of people in the world.

She said trans-exclusionary radical feminists have “woefully” let down transgender people, adding: “The world is transphobic and I think it’s appalling because trans women are women.

“When I see how trans people are treated and the agony that a lot of trans people deal with – the suicide rates, the murder rates of Black trans women – I just think, ‘Do you really think that’s a choice?'”

Rowling faced international backlash from the LGBT+ people and organisations when she took issue with the inclusive term “people who menstruate”.

She later doubled down on her views in a controversial and lengthy essay, which she posted to her own website.

The author recently came under fire yet again when she platformed an anti-trans shop that sells “lesbians don’t have penises” and “f**k your pronouns” merch.

More: feminism, JK Rowling, Roxane Gay, terf, trans exclusionary radical feminism, transphobia

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