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J.K. Rowling is being slammed by transgender activists — again — after criticizing the Scottish police for saying they'd allow rape suspects to self-identify as female should Scotland's proposed pro-trans policies take effect next year.
“War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” Rowling wrote, referencing George Orwell’s dystopian novel, 1984, before adding, “The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.”
War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.https://t.co/SyxFnnboM1
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 12, 2021
The debate comes in the midst of plans to reform the Gender Recognition Act, which would make it easier for trans people in Scotland to be legally recognized by their true gender identity. In part, the new policies would remove medical checks for those seeking a gender recognition certificate and shorten the time frame people must live as their gender identity before it’s legally recognized.
While plans to add these new policies to the Gender Recognition Act were shelved by the Scottish government last term over concerns about women’s rights, the government aims to complete the process by mid-2022, according to several reports.
Gary Ritchie, assistant chief constable, confirmed with the Scottish Sun that should the new laws take effect, anyone facing rape allegations would indeed be “recorded as a woman” if they were biologically born male but self-identify as women, even if they don’t “have a full gender recognition certificate.”
Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi also confirmed this was the case, citing that referring to someone by their true gender identity would not just be in line with the law, but also with their own values.
“The sex/gender identification of individuals who come into contact with the police will be based on how they present or how they self-declare, which is consistent with the values of the organization,” he told the paper. “Police Scotland requires no evidence or certification as proof of biological sex or gender identity other than a person’s self-declaration, unless it is pertinent to any investigation with which they are linked.”
It should be noted that the rapes highlighted in these debates are theoretical and only represent arguments in line with Scotland’s proposed transgender laws, as mentioned above.
Meanwhile, Harry Potter fans and trans activists alike are speaking out about Rowling’s fixation on trans issues, criticizing the author for linking trans identity with rape and for not using her platform to highlight the number of sexual assaults committed by cisgender men.
"As a survivor of sexual assault, I’m outraged that J.K. Rowling has once again used her enormous platform to cause harm and to conflate transgender identity with rape,” trans journalist and activist Dawn Ennis tells Yahoo Life. “As a writer, I’m gobsmacked that Rowling would categorize rape as something that only involves a penis, and that she’d steal so blatantly from Orwell without so much as a tip of the hat.”
YouTuber and trans activist Kate Blaque chimed in, writing on Twitter: "As a survivor and a trans woman, it will always upset me how seemingly desperate people are to establish transgender women as inherently sexually predatory in a world that views us as un-rapeable."
I'm barely engaging with JK Rowling discourse these days, but as a survivor and a trans woman, it will always upset me how seemingly desperate people are to establish transgender women as inherently sexually predatory in a world that views us as un-rapeable.
— I'm a Pirate (yeah yeah) (@kat_blaque) December 13, 2021
"Anyone is capable of rape, trans women included, but I have a very hard time seeing the over emphasis on trans women as justified," she continued. "Especially when contrasted with just how many trans women are raped because they are trans."
Blaque, who's been vocal about Rowling's transphobic remarks in the past, tells Yahoo Life that while she tries to "mostly ignore" Rowling's anti-trans posts, she acknowledges the author is "very much making publicly maligning trans women and defining them as rapists very normalized."
Rodrigo Heng-Lehtinen, executive director for the National Center for Transgender Equality, tells Yahoo Life that Rowling's tweet adds to the "dangerous" narrative that trans women are predators, which can be terribly traumatic for trans youth.
“She has an incredible platform, and she is using it to hurt transgender people," Heng-Lehtinen says. "Imagine what it must mean to a young transgender person falling in love with her novels only to learn that the author uses her tremendous power to attack your humanity. We are seeing a record-breaking number of murders of transgender people, especially Black transgender women, and political leaders around the world are trying to keep trans youth from playing sports or receiving appropriate health care. Rowling’s tweet adds to the dangerous, false narrative that transgender women are predators. The stakes are incredibly high for trans lives, and Rowling’s continuing attacks make it worse."
"The biggest threats of violence against women has [sic] always been cisgender men," Queer Eye's Jonathan Van Ness wrote on Twitter. "Not trans women, unless JK’s constant transphobic cherry picked vitriol convinces you otherwise. But as trans women are assaulted, deprived of work, killed, and raped, JK is safe in her mansion."
The biggest threats of violence against women has always been cis gender men. Not trans women, unless Jk’s constant transphobic cherry picked vitriol convinces you otherwise. But as trans women are assaulted, deprived of work, killed, and raped JK is safe in her mansion. https://t.co/4OJXX96gOC
— Jonathan Van Ness (@jvn) December 13, 2021
On the flip side, some leaders in Scotland say the proposed policy changes would do more to harm women than protect the transgender community.
“As a lawyer for 20 years and justice secretary for almost eight, I’ve seen some legal absurdities. But this tops it all and is dangerous," Kenny MacAskill, the former Scottish justice secretary and current member of the Scottish nationalist Alba Party, told the Scottish Sun. "It's physically impossible and is about dogma overriding common sense. Women prisoners are being harmed by this and vital crime statistics rendered useless.”
And Lisa Mackenzie, a member of the Edinburgh-based policy research group MurrayBlackburnMackenzie, which lobbies for "sex as a protected characteristic," wants Scottish police to log the theoretical rapist's gender by their sex at birth, she tells the Sun, arguing that "it’ll only take a few mis-classified cases to skew statistics.”
Other Rowling supporters have given their two cents on Twitter, with one commenter writing, "Thank you for calling out the insanity," with another adding, "Thank you. You have no idea how important your voice is, or how much it means to women and girls."
Thank you. You have no idea how important your voice is, or how much it means to women and girls 💕
— Susan Dalgety (@DalgetySusan) December 12, 2021
Still, trans activists are standing their ground, many of them criticizing Rowling and others like her for routinely spewing misinformation about the trans experience — and praising the Scottish police for their stance on the issue.
"As a woman of transgender experience, I am going to ignore this increasingly irrelevant attention-whore and enjoy my self-identified life as the woman I am: safe in the knowledge that at least the police in Scotland respect human rights, even for the most ghastly of criminals," Ennis tells Yahoo Life. "What Rowling does in her comfortable castle is her choice. But how sad, that this is how an author who has given the world such imaginative tales wastes her remaining days."
Other commenters have shared their own reactions:
This is so awful and hurtful. You have such power, yet you choose to wield it to attack people like my daughter, who is one of the loveliest people I know on this planet. Shame on you, and I hope someday you realize the pain you’re causing and deeply feel regret for your words.
— R.B. Shifman (@rshifman) December 13, 2021
I know it shouldn’t by now, but it never ceases to disappoint me to see what you’ve become. You’ll argue you’re just speaking common sense or defending women, but what you’re actually doing is using those ideas as excuses to hate on and attack a marginalized community. It’s sad.
— Mx. Amanda Jetté Knox (@MavenOfMayhem) December 13, 2021
as a trans person who used to love the harry potter series, this is so disheartening, and i should expect it from you by now, but for some reason i always hope that there’s enough evidence that most trans people arent a threat for you to change, but it never happens
— alexander 🏳️🌈🏳️⚧️ he/they (@lemonademoss) December 13, 2021
As a former fan of yours, someone who has been long inspired to pursue writing as a result of your work, I cannot put into words how disappointing it is that you've chosen to make hatred your main goal in life now. Congrats, Ms. Rowling - you've become Umbridge.
— Gyt Kaliba (@GytKaliba) December 13, 2021
Sunday's tweet is the latest in a series of battles between Rowling and the trans community.
Last month, the tension reached a new level when activists shared the author's home address on Twitter, prompting Rowling to address them by noting that "best way to prove your movement isn’t a threat to women, is to stop stalking, harassing and threatening us."
It all began, though, in December 2019, when the author gave her public support to Maya Forstater — a U.K. woman who was fired for noting, among other beliefs, that it is "impossible to change sex" — after a judge ruled that her views were not protected under Britain’s anti-discrimination laws. (She later won an appeal and posted a video thanking Rowling for her support.)
Then, in May 2020, Rowling accidentally tweeted a message with an expletive that misgendered a trans woman named Tara Wolf, who was convicted in 2017 of assaulting a woman she referred to as a TERF (“trans-exclusionary radical feminist”), a term used to describe anti-trans feminists or women who exclude trans women in conversations about women’s rights. Rowling apologized for the tweet and later deleted it.
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.
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020
The author went viral again in June 2020 when she criticized an article using the inclusive phrase “people who menstruate,” which recognized that not every person who experiences a period identifies as female.
“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” she wrote at the time, responding with a series of tweets — as well as a lengthy personal essay defending her position.