JK Rowling faces online backlash over 'anti-trans comments'

4 months ago 32
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JK Rowling has come under fire for making "anti-trans comments" on Twitter.

The Harry Potter author had taken issue with the phrasing of a headline for an opinion article about healthcare equality, titled Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.

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

The tweet sparked a debate, with many criticising the writer for appearing to define a woman as someone who has a menstrual period.

Twitter users pointed out that many people who identify as women, such as transgender women and women who have gone through the menopause, may not get their periods, while some people who do not identify as female may still menstruate, such as trans men.

‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?

Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate https://t.co/cVpZxG7gaA

— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) June 6, 2020

One Twitter user said: "What happens when women enter menopause? What about women who had hysterectomies? Women who don't menstruate because of hormonal issues? Are they not women? Nothing you say stops trans women from being women."

Another said: "That's interesting, because I have endometriosis and an IUD in place to treat it, and therefore, I no longer menstruate. I haven't had a menstrual cycle since early high school, and I'm 21. I guess I'm not a woman anymore?"

A third added: "I know you know this because you have been told over and over and over again, but transgender men can menstruate. Non-binary people menstruate. I, a 37-year old woman with a uterus, have not menstruated in a decade. Women are not defined by their periods."

Rowling subsequently posted a series of tweets defending her earlier statement.

She tweeted: "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.

"The idea that women like me, who've been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they're vulnerable in the same way as women - ie, to male violence - 'hate' trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences - is a nonsense."

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Image: Jameela Jamil took issue with the author's comments

Her additional tweets were also met with criticism, however, with some claiming her use of language was "erasing the concept of sex".

One person replied: "As a physician, I want people to know that sex exists on a bimodal biological spectrum just like gender exists on a bimodal sociological spectrum. While most identify as either female or male, there are intersex and trans individuals whose identities are just as valid and real."

Another said: "You're a smart person. How do you not yet understand the difference between sex and gender? The only way I can possibly explain your ignorance at this point is willfulness. It's incredibly disappointing."

Following Rowling's comments, actress Jameela Jamil tweeted: "To JK Rowling": verb: To go out of your way to destroy your iconic legacy."

TV presenter Jonathan Ross jumped to the author's defence, tweeting: "I just ate too many brownies. Again. Oh, and also. @jk_rowling is both right and magnificent. For those accusing her of transphobia, please read what she wrote. She clearly is not."

In December, Rowling received backlash after tweeting her support for researcher Maya Forstater, who lost her job after stating that people cannot change their biological sex.

Rowling tweeted: "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".

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