JK Rowling regrets not speaking out ‘far sooner’ on trans rights

Ellie Iorizzo, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

JK Rowling said she spoke up about transgender issues because she believes she is witnessing “the greatest assault of my lifetime” on women’s rights and would have “felt ashamed for the rest of my days if I hadn’t”.

The 58-year-old Harry Potter author has previously been criticised for her staunch views on gender identity, but has always strongly denied accusations of transphobia.

She explained her belief in protecting women’s sex-based rights in an essay which features in The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht – a forthcoming book on Scotland’s battle for women’s rights.

“I’d come to believe that the socio-political movement insisting ‘trans women are women’ was neither kind nor tolerant, but in fact profoundly misogynistic, regressive, dangerous in some of its objectives and nakedly authoritarian in its tactics,” Rowling said, in an extract published in the Times.

She said she watched women campaign for their rights from the sidelines because “people around me, including some I love, were begging me not to speak” – but said the guilt caused her “chronic pain”.

“I believe that what is being done to troubled young people in the name of gender identity ideology is, indeed, a terrible medical scandal,” Rowling said.

“I believe we’re witnessing the greatest assault of my lifetime on the rights our foremothers thought they’d guaranteed for all women.

“Ultimately, I spoke up because I’d have felt ashamed for the rest of my days if I hadn’t. If I feel any regret at all, it’s that I didn’t speak far sooner.”

JK Rowling
JK Rowling has hit the headlines over her views on transgender issues since 2019 (Yui Mok/PA) Photo by Yui Mok

Since December 2019, Scotland-based Rowling has hit the headlines for her views on transgender issues.

She came out in support of Maya Forstater, who worked as a tax expert at the Centre for Global Development, an international think tank, and was sacked after tweeting that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

Rowling described the backlash against her for supporting Ms Forstater as “vicious”.

“Nobody who’s been through an online monstering or a tsunami of death and rape threats will claim it’s fun, and I’m not going to pretend it’s anything other than disturbing and frightening,” she said.

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint, as well as Eddie Redmayne, who stars in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films, have spoken up over the years in their support of trans rights.

Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 UK Film Premiere – London
Rupert Grint, Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe at the world premiere of Harry Potter And The Deathly Hallows: Part 2 (Dominic Lipinski/PA) Photo by Dominic Lipinski

“People who’d worked with me rushed to distance themselves from me or to add their public condemnation of my blasphemous views (though I should add that many former and current colleagues have been staunchly supportive),” Rowling said in an extract from her essay, published in the Times.

“The thing is, those appalled by my position often fail to grasp how truly despicable I find theirs.”

The comments come after Rowling appeared to challenge Police Scotland to arrest her if her social media posts break new laws following the introduction of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act.

The source later confirmed it would take no action against the author.