2018/03/28/Is J.K. Rowling Transphobic

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  • when: 2018/03/28
  • author: Katelyn Burns
  • source: them.
  • topics: J.K. Rowling anti-trans/JKR anti-trans/UK
  • keywords
  • link: https://www.them.us/story/is-jk-rowling-transphobic
  • title: Is J.K. Rowling Transphobic? A Trans Woman Investigates
  • summary: "Ultimately, the answer is yes, she is transphobic, at least in the ways that so many average cisgender people can be. However, because she’s J.K. Rowling, creator of the best-selling book series of all time and an idol to so many LGBTQ+ children and now adults, she gets called out for it. I think it's fair that she receives criticism from trans people, especially given her advocacy on behalf of queer people in general, but also because she has a huge platform. Many people look up to her for creating a singular piece of popular culture that holds deep meaning for fans from different walks of life, and she has a responsibility to handle that platform wisely."

[...]it's useful to examine a scene from her novel The Silkworm, published under the pen name Robert Galbraith. In the scene, a trans woman, Pippa, follows and tries to stab the protagonist, Cormoran Strike, before getting trapped in Strike’s office. After demanding Pippa’s ID, her trans status is revealed and her visible Adam’s apple is noted, while it's noted that her hands were jammed in her pockets. Pippa tries several times to escape the office before Strike finally says, “‘If you go for that door one more time I’m calling the police and I’ll testify and be glad to watch you go down for attempted murder. And it won’t be fun for you Pippa,’ he added. ‘Not pre-op.’”

After the reference to prison rape, Pippa is described as appearing “unstable and aggressive,” though it should be noted that the other characters in the scene pity her. It’s an entirely common though insulting trope about trans women — that they are aggressive and unable to overcome their masculine nature, not to mention villainous – that has become all too common from cisgender authors with only a passing knowledge of trans people.

So is J.K. Rowling transphobic? In the U.K., where she lives, trans women have been repeatedly smeared as “male-bodied” or "parasites" and “men in women’s changing rooms” who “sacrifice children” and have a "demented grip on our society" in the wake of debate over reforms to the country’s Gender Recognition Act. The act itself controls the legal process for getting a Gender Recognition Certificate, which then allows for a change of sex on a birth certificate. It’s all but inevitable that Rowling would be exposed to these arguments in her home nation.

Note the similarity between threatening a pre-op trans woman with prison time and calling the cops on a black person (at least in the US).