Best selling author J. K. Rowling. (Getty Images)
Celebrated author J. K. Rowling, whose Harry Potter books have sold more than 500 million copies worldwide and spawn numerous movies and related products, decided to return the John F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) Ripple of Hope award she received in December 2019 after the group’s president, Kerry Kennedy, denounced Rowling’s views on the medical treatment offered to transgenders and Rowling’s defense of biological sex in general.
In an Aug. 27 statement, Rowling said, “RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women. The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.”
Kerry Kennedy, front left, presents J. K. Rowling with the RFK Human Rights Ripple of Hope award on Dec. 19, 2019. (RFKHR screenshot)
“In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year,” said Rowling.
“I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience,” she said.
Spanish model Lucia Heredia, 24, poses in Ceuta on July 16, 2020. – After winning Miss Ceuta beauty-pageant, Lucia will be the second transgender woman to run for the Miss World Crown, to take place in Oropesa del Mar, Spain, on July 26, 2020. (Photo by JORGE GUERRERO/AFP via Getty Images)
Radical LGBT activists and their allies have sharply criticized Rowling since June, when she mocked the idea that “people” other than biological women menstruate. In response to a commentary entitled “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate,” Rowling tweeted on June 6, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
After much criticism that day, Rowling further tweeted, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. 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.”
She also tweeted, “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. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”
On June 10, Rowling posted a lengthy article on her website explaining why she had spoken out on sex and gender issues. “I have a charitable trust that focuses on alleviating social deprivation in Scotland, with a particular emphasis on women and children,” she wrote. “Among other things, my trust supports projects for female prisoners and for survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. I also fund medical research into MS, a disease that behaves very differently in men and women.”
“It’s been clear to me for a while that the new trans activism is having (or is likely to have, if all its demands are met) a significant impact on many of the causes I support, because it’s pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender,” said the author and philanthropist. (Emphasis added.)
She continued, “I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility.” (Emphasis added.)
“I want trans women to be safe,” she added, but, “At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman – and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth.”
Criticizing Rowling, Kerry Kennedy said the author’s tweets and statements were “deeply troubling” and “transphobic.”
Kennedy added, “From her own words, I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity—a position that I categorically reject. The science is clear and conclusive: Sex is not binary.”