Author J.K. Rowling sparked a social media debate about transgenderism over the weekend for arguing that biological sex isn’t a social construct, and for implying that transgender logic is harming women’s rights.
The controversy began when Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter book series, criticized a news headline that referenced “people who menstruate.”
“‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Rowling tweeted.
Rowling wrote in a follow-up tweet that she has “spent much of the last three years reading books, blogs and scientific papers by trans people, medics and gender specialists.”
After receiving pushback, she explained her position in a series of tweets.
“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” she tweeted. “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.
“The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense,” she wrote.
“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans,” Rowling concluded. “At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”
Rowling’s comments were re-tweeted more than 40,000 times and drew more than 50,000 comments. More than 200,000 Twitter users “liked” her comments.
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova, who is lesbian, tweeted her agreement with Rowling.
But GLAAD, a leading LGBT organization, criticized Rowling.
“JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans,” GLAAD said in a tweet. “In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people. We stand with trans youth, especially those Harry Potter fans hurt by her inaccurate and cruel tweets.”
Photo credit: Wikimedia/The White House
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.