I was always more of a Twilight fan than a Potterhead, to be honest.
Edward’s chiselled jaw and repulsive yet alluring shyness was enough to warrant me asking for a life-size duvet of him, Jacob and Bella for Christmas. Harry Potter and his whatever of whatever never really cut the mustard.
None of us could have guessed that JK Rowling, the brains behind the multi-million pound operation, would turn out to not actually support all of the young people and their families that prop up her bank balance.
We are the ones seeing anti-trans rhetoric evolve, grow and magnify many of the problems that we all face on a daily basis but on public platforms such as Twitter and Instagram.
This means that we’re constantly reminded of the ways in which other people around us feel about our existence. Within our own lives, careers and social spheres our lives feel progressive and fruitful. However, when we are then catapulted into the media spotlight yet again, it feels like two steps forward and 300 steps back.
The ‘argument’ doesn’t need to happen, ever. When people like Rowling share their views on trans people, they see it as the same as saying ‘I don’t like brown bread’ or ‘I prefer EastEnders to Corrie’. To them, it’s an opinion with no ramifications.
It’s the idea that they feel so strongly about this sentiment – that they’re willing to die by the sword for it – that’s shocking.
In this case, Rowling was supporting Maya Forstater, whose contract was not renewed at the Center for Global Development (ironic) after she tweeted her views that trans women who hold legal certification of their new gender are, in fact, not women.
It isn’t the audacity of these statements that strikes me – these narratives have been bubbling away on Twitter for years, and in our newspapers for decades.
It’s the idea that they feel so strongly about this sentiment – that they’re willing to die by the sword for it – that’s shocking. No one warrants abuse like Forstater deployed.
I was also surprised by the outpouring of support for Rowling from well-known journalists such as Emily Maitlis, who liked and re-tweeted Rowling’s bile. Joan McAlpine, an SNP Member of the Scottish Parliament, referred to Rowling’s tweet as ‘a call for by tolerance and freedom’. It shows the magnitude of the problem, and truthfully, the terror.
Seeing famous, powerful people sharing their support for transphobia was, for me, a genuine kick in the gut. Another reminder that we are under threat.
This isn’t just a funny twitter ‘cancel culture’ moment of the year. Trans people in the UK, which includes the 48 per cent of British trans people who have attempted suicide, will be all too aware that in some areas hate crime has trebled in the past three years.
Seemingly flippant tweets are fuel to transphobia’s fire and spread even further via white supremacy and fascism. As the far right rises, so does transphobia.
Performance artist Travis Alabanza summed up the situation perfectly when they wrote that we need to ‘Go beyond just stating that we exist and deserve safety. Invest time into learning what is happening and why, and what safety looks like’.
Personally, it’s meant that I no longer feel the joy and safety of being myself anymore. I worry every time I leave the house and don’t wear make-up or present femininely because of the insidiousness and frequency with which these views have taken hold among the general population of the UK.
It begs the question though: why, still, when we have been talking about this for years, are people struggling to speak up, stand up, and show up for us?