JK Rowling faces backlash, accused of being transphobic on Twitter

JK Rowling.
JK Rowling. Photo credit: Getty Images

Harry Potter author JK Rowling is facing backlash and is accused of being transphobic after posting a series of tweets on Sunday.

The 54-year-old author shared an article from global health website Devex called 'Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate'.

Rowling tweeted: "'People who menstruate'. I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

The Devex story outlines the "many gendered aspects of the pandemic", including estimates there are 1.8 billion girls, women and gender non-binary people who menstruate and this "has not stopped because of the pandemic".

"They still require menstrual materials, safe access to toilets, soap, water, and private spaces in the face of lockdown living conditions that have eliminated privacy for many populations," the article says.

Rowling quickly became a trending topic on Twitter following her comments and many people started calling her out for what she said.

"Actually Joanne, girls, women, and many men and nonbinary people menstruate too. So 'people' is the correct term. Very cool that you've just decided to air your transphobia now though. Proud of your honesty, if nothing else," one person replied.

"Imagine creating Voldemort and Slytherin and then years later thinking, 'Yeah, they had a good point'. What a disappointment you've become," another wrote.

"I actually appreciate how much you are honest about being a huge f***ing TERF so that no one is confused about whether or not you're awful," a third person said.

The term 'TERF' means transgender-exclusionary radical feminist. It is often associated with someone who claims to support women's rights, but only considers women assigned female at birth to be women, therefore excluding trans women and people.

Rowling defended her tweet by criticising the idea that someone's sense of biology isn't real.

"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.

"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 added she "respects" trans people's right to live authentically and also hit back at people who called her a TERF.

"'Feminazi', 'TERF', 'bitch', 'witch'. Times change. Woman-hate is eternal."

Rowling has previously faced criticism for her tweets, including in December after she supported researcher Maya Forstater who was fired for saying "men cannot change into women".

A court ruled against Forstater's views, describing them as incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others.

Rowling posted a tweet in reaction to the court's ruling with the hashtag "IStandWithMaya".

"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?"

One person who said they found safety in reading the Harry Potter series as a gay child claimed Rowling's comments broke their heart since trans people couldn't have that same safety.