Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is no fan of President Donald Trump. She once attacked Piers Morgan for refusing to compare Trump to Adolf Hitler. She refused to apologize to Trump after falsely accusing him of mocking a child in a wheelchair. Yet she defended even Trump’s right to free speech, and in an article explaining her position on transgender issues on Wednesday, she explained why.
Rowling has faced yet another round of attacks from transgender activists — including GLAAD — after she again stood up for biological sex. Responding to this, she published a long essay on Wednesday, opening up about her “reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues,” and one of those reasons has to do with free speech. The author’s belief in free speech — even for people whom she views with contempt — led her to defend Trump.
Transgender activists have long targeted Rowling for the sin of believing that biological sex is dimorphic and that women are women. The harassment began when the famous author “liked” a tweet on the issue. She later stood up for Maya Forstater, a tax expert who was fired for tweeting, “men cannot change into women.”
“I knew perfectly well what was going to happen when I supported Maya. I must have been on my fourth or fifth cancellation by then. I expected the threats of violence, to be told I was literally killing trans people with my hate, to be called c**t and bitch and, of course, for my books to be burned, although one particularly abusive man told me he’d composted them,” Rowling explained. While the author said she was heartened by emails and letters thanking her for standing up for biological sex, the harassment at the hands of transgender activists continued.
When she returned to Twitter recently, “Immediately, activists who clearly believe themselves to be good, kind and progressive people swarmed back into my timeline, assuming a right to police my speech, accuse me of hatred, call me misogynistic slurs and, above all – as every woman involved in this debate will know – TERF,” a slur that stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.”
In this climate of harassment, Rowling decided she had to take a stand.
In fact, she spoke publicly for the first time about suffering from domestic abuse and sexual assault. She wrote about the “visceral sense of the terror” she remembers from the abuse and how that makes her identify with victims — and with women who are put in danger due to policies opening up women’s private spaces to men who claim to identify as women.
Rowling also noted that her charitable trust focuses on helping women and children, including female prisoners and survivors of domestic and sexual abuse. She also funds medical research into multiple sclerosis, “a disease that behaves very differently in men and women” because male and female bodies have different biologies, regardless of gender identity. The transgender effort to replace biological sex with gender will affect both of these endeavors.
Rowling also explained that as an ex-teacher and the founder of a children’s charity, she is concerned about education, and transgender activism is infecting the education establishment.
The author mentioned Lisa Littman’s 2018 paper describing that transgender identity acts as a social contagion among teenage girls. Littman faced outrage and was “canceled” because she “had dared challenge one of the central tenets of trans activism, which is that a person’s gender identity is innate, like sexual orientation.”
Yet Rowling herself, recalling her own troubled teenage years, wrote, “I wondered whether, if I’d been born 30 years later, I too might have tried to transition. The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge. I struggled with severe OCD as a teenager. If I’d found community and sympathy online that I couldn’t find in my immediate environment, I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred.”
Instead, she wrestled with and embraced her womanhood. “Fortunately for me, I found my own sense of otherness, and my ambivalence about being a woman, reflected in the work of female writers and musicians who reassured me that, in spite of everything a sexist world tries to throw at the female-bodied, it’s fine not to feel pink, frilly and compliant inside your own head; it’s OK to feel confused, dark, both sexual and non-sexual, unsure of what or who you are,” she wrote.
Rowling admitted that transgender identity may be the answer for some people, but she noted that “studies have consistently shown that between 60-90% of gender dysphoric teens will grow out of their dysphoria.” Rowling wrote about a friend of hers who appears to benefit from a transgender identity, but who “went through a long and rigorous process of evaluation, psychotherapy and staged transformation” beforehand. Current transgender activism, however, “is urging a removal of almost all the robust systems through which candidates for sex reassignment were once required to pass.”
The author also attacked many transgender views about womanhood as “deeply misogynistic and regressive.” In an important passage, she insisted that “‘woman’ is not a costume:”
But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive. Moreover, the ‘inclusive’ language that calls female people ‘menstruators’ and ‘people with vulvas’ strikes many women as dehumanising and demeaning. I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.
So, what does all this have to do with Donald Trump? Rowling mentioned him in her third reason for speaking up on these issues. “As a much-banned author, I’m interested in freedom of speech and have publicly defended it, even unto Donald Trump,” she wrote.
Indeed, in 2016, Rowling condemned a petition to ban Donald Trump from entering into Britain on the grounds that he was offensive. “Now, I find almost everything that Mr. Trump says objectionable. I consider him offensive and bigoted. But he has my full support to come to my country and be offensive and bigoted there,” she explained. “His freedom to speak protects my freedom to call him a bigot. His freedom guarantees mine. Unless we take that absolute position without caveats or apologies, we have set foot on a road with only one destination.”
The very “demands that unwelcome and inconvenient voices be removed from public discourse” have now targeted J.K. Rowling for cancellation.
Ironically, the very man she considers a “bigot” has championed biological sex over transgender activism. Trump has reversed former President Barack Obama’s unilateral assault on biological reality in federal civil rights law and the military. The Department of Justice under Trump is standing up for fair play in women’s sports against the transgender activists who want to force women to compete with biological men.
In her long and important essay on transgender issues, Rowling attacks Trump over his infamous Access Hollywood comments, but she refuses to acknowledge that, whatever his faults, the president is a champion of commonsense and biological reality on this important issue. Meanwhile, presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden has championed the so-called Equality Act, which will worsen the problems Rowling warned about.
Rowling was right to defend Trump’s free speech, and she should celebrate his decision to fight back against this assault on the biological reality that makes true feminism possible. The president is far from a feminist icon, but he represents far less of a threat than the subversive and dangerous transgender movement.
Follow Tyler O’Neil, the author of this article, on Twitter at @Tyler2ONeil.