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JK Rowling: I knew views on trans issues would make Potter fans deeply unhappy

JK Rowling: I knew views on trans issues would make Potter fans deeply unhappy
JK Rowling at Harry Potter and The Cursed Child Opening Gala – Arrivals, © PA Archive/PA Images

By Mike Bedigan, PA Los Angeles Correspondent

JK Rowling says she “absolutely knew” that her comments and views on transgender issues would make Harry Potter fans “deeply unhappy”.

The world famous author said despite an enormous backlash to a tweet made in 2019, there were “a tonne of Potter fans that were grateful that I said what I said”.

Rowling has previously been criticised for her staunch views on gender identity, explaining that she was partly motivated to speak out because of her experience of domestic abuse and sexual assault, but has strongly denied accusations of transphobia.

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Speaking on the latest episode of the podcast The Witch Trials Of JK Rowling, she addressed a tweet she had made in 2019, in which she expressed support for tax expert Maya Forstater, and the resulting fallout.

The Harry Potter author said despite enormous backlash to her comments, there had been ‘a tonne of fans that were grateful that I said what I said’ (PA)

Forstater lost her job over her own tweets made about transgender people, and later took the case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that her dismissal constituted discrimination against her beliefs.

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At the time, Rowling tweeted: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security.

“But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

Speaking on the podcast Rowling admitted it would have been “easier” to not wade in on the debate.

“When I first became interested and then deeply troubled by what I saw as a cultural movement that was liberal in its methods and was very questionable in its ideas, I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many folks would be deeply unhappy with me,” she said.

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“I knew that because I knew… that they believe they were living the values that I had espoused in those books. I could tell that they believed they were fighting for underdogs and difference and fairness.

 

“And I thought it would be easier not to, you know, that this could be really bad. And honestly, it has been bad personally, it has not been fun.

“I have been scared at times for my own safety, and overwhelmingly for my family’s safety.”

She added: “Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong. I can only say that I’ve thought about it deeply and hard and long. And I’ve listened, I promise, to the other side.

“And I believe, absolutely, that there is something dangerous about this movement, and it must be challenged.”

Rowling said she had been “considerate enough” to inform her management team that she was about to post her initial tweet “because I knew it’s going to cause a massive storm”.

Following the online post the author received thousands of replies from fans expressing their disappointment and disgust in her.

Harry Potter franchise

Stars of the Harry Potter franchise – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – also spoke out publicly in opposition to her views on gender.

“I’m constantly told that I have betrayed my own books, but my position is that I’m absolutely upholding the positions that I took in Potter,” Rowling said.

Harry Potter star Emma Watson (left) was one of the famous faces who spoke out publicly in opposition to her views on gender (PA)

“My position is that this activist movement in the form that it’s currently taking, echoes the very thing that I was warning against in Harry Potter.”

She added: “But at the same time, I have to tell you, a tonne of Potter fans were still with me.

“In fact, a tonne of Potter fans are grateful that I said what I said.”

She added that the lack of willingness by many to engage with her on the issue as “intellectually incredibly cowardly”.

“I am fighting what I see, as a powerful, insidious misogynistic movement that I think has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society. I do not see this particular movement as either benign or powerless,” she said.

“So I’m afraid I stand with the women who are fighting to be heard against threat of loss of livelihood and threats to their personal safety.”

Rowling previously said that she had agreed to take part in the podcast after being approached by author and activist Megan Phelps-Roper.

She said she thought that she and Phelps-Roper, a former member of the Westboro Baptist Church, could have a “real, interesting, two-sided conversation that might prove constructive”.

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