JK Rowling returns human rights award amid trans row

JK Rowling has returned the award after a conflict of views.
JK Rowling has returned the award after a conflict of views. Photo credit: Getty Images

 Jk Rowling is returning an award she received from a human rights organisation after coming under fire for her views on transgender issues.

The Ripple of Hope Award, bestowed on Rowling last year by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organisation, is for people who show commitment to social change. It was presented to Rowling for the work she's done helping orphaned children.

The Harry Potter author provoked criticism in June after posting tweets objecting to the use of the phrase 'people who menstruate', instead of 'women', to promote inclusivity.

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

She then posted a series of tweets explaining her views on gender identity, which have been condemned by fans and celebrities including the star of the Harry Potter films Daniel Radcliffe.

Kerry Kennedy, president of RFKHR, released a statement earlier this month saying Rowling's views were "deeply troubling," and "diminished the identity" of trans people.

Kennedy said Rowling's "attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFKHR and represent a repudiation of my father's vision".

Kennedy said she spoke to Rowling to "express her profound disappointment" and takes her position to be "that sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one's gender, regardless of one's gender identity", a position Kennedy rejects.

On Thursday Rowling announced on her website she would be returning the Ripple of Hope Award.

"I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance," she wrote.

"But no award of honour, no matter my admiration for the person whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience."

Rowling went on to say that Kennedy incorrectly implied she was transphobic, arguing there is a conflict between "the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women."

Previous winners of the award include Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.