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JK Rowling publishes new blog post after controversial comments about transgender women

The Harry Potter author wrote about aspects of her troubled past in a blog post.

Image: PA Images

JK ROWLING HAS attempted to clarify her controversial stance on transgender women, posting an essay about her recent comments which have drawn criticism from LGBT groups. 

In a blog post this evening, which has added to the controversy, the Harry Potter author claimed that her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault prompted her to make remarks about gender identity.

Rowling was criticised following a series of tweets about gender terminology last weekend, including one sharing an opinion piece with a headline reading: ‘Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate.’ 

In one tweet, she took aim at the term “people who menstruate”, suggesting that it exclusively applied to women. 

This evening, she said she wanted to give context to those remarks in a 3,695-word essay on gender identity and aspects of her own troubled past.

“This isn’t an easy piece to write,” she said.

“I’ve been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor,” Rowling wrote.

“This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember.”

She said that “accusations and threats from trans activists have been bubbling in my Twitter timeline” since she voiced her support for a researcher in the UK, whose employment contract was not renewed after tweeting that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

Rowling ended her post by affirming that she was “a survivor (and) certainly not a victim”.

“I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one,” she said.

“I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions.”

Rowling said she had spent many years thinking about trans issues because of her own troubles with gender identity when she was young. She said she had also researched the issue in the context of her work as an author, but did not give further details.

“When I read about the theory of gender identity, I remember how mentally sexless I felt in youth,” she wrote.

“As I didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man back in the 1980s, it had to be books and music that got me through both my mental health issues and the sexualised scrutiny and judgement that sets so many girls to war against their bodies in their teens.”

The 54-year-old said she spent a period feeling “ambivalence about being a woman” before learning that “it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are”.

She also stood up for her right to speak freely about an issue that she said has been with her throughout life.

“As a much-banned author, I’m interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump,” she wrote.

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Last weekend, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD), a US LGBT non-governmental organisation for media monitoring, said Rowling continued “to align herself with an ideology” distorting facts about gender identity.

“In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people,” the organisation said on Twitter.

Her comments also caused Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe to apologise to trans women who may have been offended by her remarks.

“Transgender women are women,” Radcliffe wrote in a post for The Trevor Project website.

His Harry Potter co-star Emma Watson also tweeted in support of trans people tonight, writing, “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.”

Last year, BBC News reported an 81% rise in transgender hate crime in England, Scotand and Wales.

With reporting from - © AFP 2020 

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