J.K. Rowling is at the centre of a row about transgender issues after she spoke out in support of a woman who lost an employment tribunal case for using “offensive and exclusionary” language on social media.
The Harry Potter author tweeted to her 14.6 million Twitter followers about Maya Forstater, who lost her job at a leading think tank after a series of tweets, including one in which she said: “Men cannot change into women.”
Rowling wrote: “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.”
Rowling’s name quickly trended on Twitter, with some users describing her as a “transphobe”, or a “Terf” - referring to the term, trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
Forstater hit the headlines when she lost her job as a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, an international anti-poverty thinktank that has offices in London and Washington.
An employment tribunal heard that she had retweeted transphobic material, including a cartoon of a person flashing two women at a London swimming pond, with the caption “It’s alright – it’s a woman’s penis”.
Forstater had also tweeted that “it is unfair and unsafe for trans women to compete in women’s sport”.
She was told by a judge her view that transgender people cannot change their sex was “not worthy of respect”.
James Tayler also ruled that Forstater did not have the right to ignore or deny the legal rights of trans people and said her tweets were “incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others”.
Forstater said she was “struggling to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case”.
After Rowling spoke out, reaction in the media has been a mixture of condemnation and support.
Describing the tweet as “transphobic BS,” Vox said: “JKR just ruined Harry Potter, Merry Christmas.”
Writing for the Daily Mail, Julie Bindel said “the temperature on trans issues has a habit of reaching boiling point almost immediately, and is one in which very few people are brave enough to dip their toe”.
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