J.K. Rowling has held the line on refuting transgender rhetoric, and for gender-critical women and real feminists, this is a glorious moment. We, the gender-critical, the terfs, those women who have spoken up over and over, are finally witnessing the manifestation of an ally who is simply too big to cancel. Rowling has tweeted, which is about as public as you can get these days, that men cannot become women and women cannot become men because biological reality is real.
Her statement contains no ambiguity. Rowling writes, “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.”
Rowling, famed author of the “Harry Potter” series, had posted an article about the effects of the COVID-19 coronavirus on “people who menstruate,” noting there must be a better word for people who menstruate, perhaps something more concise. “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” she tweeted.
The backlash was fierce. Even Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, made famous by the series, released a response via the Trevor Project. Radcliffe wrote:
Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.
He went on to apologize for Rowling’s comments, saying, “I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” and pleading with readers not to let her comments ruin the books for them.
I’m sure many women of a certain age can relate to speaking their minds only to have a young man tell them to reverse course. But Rowling’s not having it anymore, and perhaps because of her speaking up, the rest of the women who have been silenced on this issue will stop being shut up with transgender falsehoods.
Transgender Ideas Hurt Women
Leftist feminists have embraced the trans lobby. The rote cry that “trans women are women” has been repeated at the Women’s March and other protest gatherings, in countless articles, and on social media, until those who speak it don’t even hear it. The women who repeat these words and internalize them do so at their own peril.
Having come up through the arts, where this opinion became manifest as far back as a decade ago, I have seen the cognitive dissonance of those leftist women who were fighting for women’s voices to be heard in the arts, while at the same time proclaiming men were women. Awards and grants once meant for women opened up to men who called themselves women, and those women who advocated for that change watched as funding for women’s art became funding for men-who-dress-like-women’s art.
These women watched it happen. They may have even stewed about it silently or over drinks with girlfriends, but they didn’t speak publicly. Publicly, feminists said the words they were told.
Enter, Rowling. The trans lobby lashed out at her on Twitter. Hopefully, she doesn’t succumb to pressure, doesn’t turn back, and stands up for those women and girls who have been convinced that women are nothing more than appearances.
Some big names — Martina Navratilova and Graham Linehan — have supported the cause of women’s rights, to defend women’s bodies against being colonized by men, but the opposing voices have been louder and better funded. In the end, those voices opposed to women as defined by biological sex have won out, reducing the gender-critical to that most horrid of 21st-century insults: bigots.
Rowling Isn’t Backing Down
But it looks like Rowling, who so far has not capitulated, might stay the course. A few years ago, she sent a tweet that appeared to support the biological reality of sex. Then in 2019, Rowling came out in support of Maya Forstater, a woman who had used her social media to express gender-critical views and lost her contract at a London economic think tank over it. A transgender colleague, a man identifying as a woman, had said Forstater’s views — not expressed at work but in her personal life — made the trans colleague uncomfortable. Forstater was released from her contract.
As a result, Forstater sued. She said her belief in the biological reality of sex should be protected under the law, such as a religious belief is. Her underlying position was that these gender relativists, who believe a person is whatever sex they claim to be, were expressing a religious view. Forstater said that if their view was a protected belief, so too was hers. She lost the case.
A hashtag sprang up on Twitter, “#IStandWithMaya,” and Rowling tweeted out her support. She was widely decried by feminist activists such as Jameela Jamil, Alyssa Milano, and others. Gender-critical feminists loved her tweet, which read, “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.”
Gender-critical feminists have needed an outspoken advocate for women. We’ve been out here sounding like crazy people, like shrill harpies, screaming at the top of our lungs that women are adult human females. Now we have someone in our corner who can’t be shouted down. Rowling hasn’t backed down. She hasn’t capitulated or apologized.
We who have picked this hill to die on, who have chosen to speak out for the rights of women, girls, and boys who end up suckered into this fantasy that biological sex is mutable, salute Rowling. We’ve got her back. We’ll buy her books. We’ll read them to our kids. And we’ll be ever grateful if she’ll continue to speak up. I for one just hope she doesn’t shut up and back down, no matter which boys tell her to.