J.K. Rowling Returns Human Rights Award After Being Called Out For Transphobia

JK Rowling

Last December, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling received the Ripple of Hope award from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization. The award is intended to recognize people who have demonstrated a “commitment to social change.” Rowling proudly accepted, calling it “one of the highest honours I’ve ever been given” and praising Robert F. Kennedy for embodying “everything I most admire in a human being.”

Now, however, the author has sent back the award after being called out by the organization’s president Kerry Kennedy about her notorious transphobic comments earlier this year. Kennedy said:

I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community—one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.

She concluded that:

Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision.

Rowling shot back with her own statement, in which she claims she gave money to LGBTQ charities so can’t be transphobic, that lots of people wrote her letters saying she’s totally right about everything, and provided a link to a website with a big donate button on it run by a group of doctors whose names only seem to show up on right-wing sites. Funny that.

It remains to be seen how much long term damage Rowling’s comments will do to her career, but perhaps one taster comes from the upcoming Harry Potter video game being developed by Avalanche Software. One of the selling points of the title is that Rowling has “very little direct involvement” with the project, which may be a hint that if she continues to trash her reputation, Warner Bros. will begin gently separating the author from her creation. J.K. Rowling shows no signs of admitting she’s wrong, either, so I expect this story to run and run.