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LGBT+ people rally to tell JK Rowling that, no, ‘innumerable gay people’ are not ‘anti-trans’

Josh Milton March 13, 2022
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Protesters hold signs calling out JK. Rowling's twitter comments

Protesters hold signs calling out JK. Rowling's twitter comments as they take part in a Harry Potter themed rally in front of Democracy Monument on August 3, 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand. (Lauren DeCicca/Getty Images)

Countless LGBT+ people have united to give JK Rowling a simple message: no, “innumerable gay people” do not oppose trans rights.

On Saturday (12 March), the British writer of Harry Potter and other Wizarding World works claimed that “innumerable gay people” have been in touch with her expressing the view that trans rights are “undermining” women’s rights.

“Like women,” she wrote, “they – especially lesbians – are under attack for not wishing to be redefined for refusing to use ideological language they find offensive.”

Rowling, 56, had waded into the brambly topic of trans rights once again after Labour Party leader Keir Starmer emphatically said that “trans women are women” and that “is the law” in a Saturday interview with The Times newspaper.

Asked to define what a woman is, Starmer explained that under the 2004 Gender Recognition Act and the 2010 Equalities Act, both the benchmarks of gender recognition and non-discrimination law respectively, “trans women are women”.

Disagreeing with the former public prosecutor’s comments, Rowling claimed that the human rights lawyer “misrepresented equalities law, in yet another indication that the Labour Party can no longer be counted on to defend women’s rights”.

Divina De Campo, Stonewall co-founders and queer folk blast JK Rowling as a ‘disgrace’

“Anger”, Rowling said, has been curdling among women and queer people “across party lines”.

But to innumerable LGBT+ people, Rowling’s views on trans identities and policy in no way reflect their own. They are behind everyone in the community.

“I’m here, gay, my husband too and our housemate,” tweeted RuPaul’s Drag Race UK icon Divina De Campo. “We ran LGBTQ venues for 20 years.

“What you are doing is a disgrace, you harm trans people and LGB+ people with your rhetoric.”

JK Rowling arrives at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019. (Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

De Campo was not alone.

In conversations with PinkNews as well as in the hashtag “JK Doesn’t Speak For Me“, queer people across the globe sought to stress that they lock-arms with the dozens of national and international LGBT+ advocacy groupsmedical organisations, Harry Potter actors, fellow authors and members of the public that decisively back trans rights.

For Lisa Power, a 68-year-old sexual health activist who co-founded the Pink Paper and Stonewall, Rowling’s slump is all too familiar to her, she told PinkNews. She’s seen it all before.

“I have lost no more than a handful of women friends to TERFdom,” she said, adding: “I’m really sad that she can’t tell when she’s being love-bombed by a minority and sucked into a cult.”

“It’s like watching a hormonal teenager in fandom – reason flies out the window to be replaced with burning obsession.”

Power said when tussling with transphobes on Twitter, she’s routinely told she can’t be a lesbian because she’s pro-trans rights: “I didn’t know there was a qualifying exam,” she joked.

“They’re sad,” Power added reflecting on how some anti-trans queer men have become the very “old fogeys” they once marched against. “And I’m deeply grateful it’s not happened to me.”

“Being a feminist is about wanting equality for everyone, cis and trans,” said Julie Cohen, a bisexual woman and best-selling author based in Reading.

“As a woman from the same generation as JK Rowling, I’m angry that she’s chosen to use her considerable power to punch down on trans people.

“And as a writer, I’m sad that she’s not taking the time to listen to and learn from her inclusive queer fans. She doesn’t speak for me, or for the LGBTQ+ community.”

“Rowling just keeps on talking about something which she has nothing to do with and knows nothing about,” said Maitiú, a 21-year-old bisexual student based in Dublin, Ireland.

“Sure she has influence,” he added, “but once people see that the queer people who agree with her she speaks of don’t exist and actually ignore her, people will start to ignore her too.”

“JK Rowling doesn’t speak for me,” said Victoria Wood, a 33-year-old queer woman and writer based in Sheffield, England. “If it wasn’t for the support of our trans siblings back in the Stonewall days, we wouldn’t be able to be who we are.”

“I have noticed that transphobia has only been further worsened by JK Rowling, people have little to no understanding of what it’s like to be trans and the struggle they face,” said Nelson Okaraoh-Dae, a 23-year-old recruitment officer living in Newcastle Upon Tyne.

“I don’t think that trans rights are removing the voice of the LGB community,” they added, “I think it’s finally allowing us to truly be as open and unapologetic as we can be.

“I’d have never realised I’m more he/they in my gender expression if not for that, I would have continued to dress like a reject from Supernatural who took too long in Primark, and continued to pretend to be something hyper-masculine.”

Jo Guiste, a 22-year-old research chemist from Leeds, said Rowling’s comments will “fracture our community”, if they haven’t already, that is.

“Day after day, our trans siblings fight for the right to simply exist as themselves,” he said, “the most basic right any human can have.

“Yet her disgusting rhetoric just vilifies them. She spreads hate under the guise of advocating for women’s rights, which is simply insidious.”

JK Rowling has repeatedly denied allegations that she is “transphobic”. The novelist said in 2020: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Rowling added that she “respects” trans folk and “if” they were discriminated “against on the basis of being trans”, she would march alongside them.

But there is no “if” about whether or not trans people face bigotry. Trans people are more susceptible to violence, poor health, homelessness, povertyunemploymentrape and sexual assault, experience higher rates of attempted suicide, are facing legal rollbacks that effectively erase them from existence, encounter swelling rates of homicide and hate crimes, and, overall, have dramatically shorter lifespans than their cis counterparts.

“I welcome my trans friends and all others and people like JKR do not speak for me,” Rebecca, a pansexual woman and 38-year-old bookkeeper in South Yorkshire, said.

“Transphobes make me sick,” she added, “I honestly don’t know how they have the time or energy.”

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