I don’t know about you, but I’m quickly growling nostalgic for the days when the main thing J.K. Rowling was relentlessly criticized about was her insistence on regularly dropping pointless and decade-late trivia about the Harry Potter world and its characters. Lately, however, she has been making sure everyone’s well aware of how transphobic she is, with reactions being vocal and decidedly negative.
Yesterday, as part of a series of tweets responding to a comment which itself reacted to her liking a tweet suggesting people who take antidepressants are lazy, she made some troubling declarations about the use of hormone treatments in young people, most notably the two below.
Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function. 5/11
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 5, 2020
Describing the transition process as “conversion therapy for young gay people” dismisses the existence of trans people, as their issue surrounds their gender identity and not sexual orientation, which is entirely separate. Stating a danger of a loss of fertility reduces people to their ability to reproduce, something frequently weaponized against a person’s desire to transition.
The statement also tacitly suggests that identifying as transgender is a form of mental illness, and while more people need to recognize that mental health problems are real and require treatment to overcome, the misfortune of being born into the wrong gender body should not be considered as one them.
People are not “shunted” towards surgery; the transition process is lengthy and complicated with numerous avenues of treatment discussed and explored before the right one can be settled on, and prior to any kind of hormone therapy there are numerous factors to be taken into account that medical professionals understand far better than bigots, millionaire fantasy authors or entertainment news writers already regretting picking up this story first thing on a Monday morning.
Rowling’s transphobia has been more prominent recently with such Twitter comments being widely disseminated and commented upon, but it was clear as far back as 2014 in The Silkworm, the second novel in her Cormoran Strike series and a mean-spirited satire of the British publishing industry. One character, Pippa, is revealed to be a trans woman, yet descriptions of her focus on physical characteristics that are typically associated with masculinity, and it’s stated to her that jail wouldn’t be fun for someone “pre-op,” suggesting she would be sent to a men’s prison and remain in constant danger of being sexually assaulted.
There’s a long way to go before transgender people are fully acknowledged to actually exist, never mind for discrimination against them to be eradicated, and the bigotry of famous authors really don’t help the cause. As far as J.K. Rowling herself is concerned, can we just go back to the days of mocking her for pointlessly revealing Dumbledore as gay or declaring that wizards used to use the floor as a toilet?