J.K. Rowling is a British author and the most prominent gender critical activist in the world. Rowling has used wealth and influence to cause tremendous harm to the trans rights movement worldwide, but particularly in the United Kingdom.
Rowling’s primary anti-trans focuses are:
- supporting sex segregation
- opposing legal recognition on the basis of gender identity and expression
- opposing value-neutral and inclusive scientific language about human anatomy and body functions
- supporting the “LGB erasure” conspiracy theory, particularly the conspiracy that gender-affirming care is “conversion therapy” on lesbian, gay, and bisexual minors
- opposing those who note Rowling is transphobic or a TERF, often threatening legal action against those who do
- opposing the “new trans activism”
Joanne “Jo” Rowling was born 31 July 1965 in Yate, Gloucestershire, England. Rowling parents both served in the British Navy before marrying. Rowling has a younger sibling Dianne. Rowling earned a bachelor’s degree from Exeter in 1987.
Rowling came up with the idea for the Harry Potter series in 1990. After holding several unfulfilling jobs, Rowling moved to Portugal to teach English. There, Rowling met journalist Jorge Arantes, and they married in 1992. They had a child Jessica in 1993, but Rowling left because the relationship was abusive. They divorced in 1995. Rowling earned a teaching certificate in 1996 and began teaching.
The first Harry Potter book was published in 1997. Since publication of the final book in 2007, the series has amassed a huge fandom for the movie series, plays, video games, amusement park tie-ins, and extensive merchandizing. Rowling is one of the most successful authors in the history of publishing.
In 2001 Rowling married physician Neil Murray and purchased Killiechassie House, a Scottish estate. They have two children: David (born 2003) and Mackenzie (born 2005).
Rowling subsequently wrote additional children’s books and adult novels, including some under the pen name Robert Galbraith.
After a series of increasingly anti-transgender statements, in 2022 Rowling came out against the proposed Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. As Rowling’s anti-trans views became more strident, Rowling began openly supporting anti-transgender extremists in the UK and beyond.
Rowling signed the Harper’s letter with many other leading lights of anti-transgender extremism, including Meghan Daum, Caitlin Flanagan, David Frum, Michelle Goldberg, Jonathan Haidt, Katie Herzog, Phoebe Maltz Bovy, Steven Pinker, Katha Pollitt, Kat Rosenfield, Jesse Singal, Bari Weiss, Matthew Yglesias, Emily Yoffe, and Cathy Young.
Rowling also announced creation of Beira’s Place, a privately funded trans-exclusionary rape help center. Rowling was enraged that other local resources offered help to trans people who had been sexually assaulted.
Gender critical supporters
Rowling supporters are gender critical people from across the political spectrum and include Kathleen Stock, Maya Forstater, Alison Bailey, Helen Joyce, Lianne Timmerman, Angela Wild, Suzanne Moore, and Julie Bindel.
Rowling’s critics include numerous LGBT rights organizations, authors, actors who have appeared in filmed versions of Rowling’s books, and the vast majority of the trans community.
- J.K. Rowling
- The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling
- JK Rowling’s New Friends
Romano, Aja (March 3, 2023). Is J.K. Rowling transphobic? Let’s let her speak for herself. Vox https://www.vox.com/culture/23622610/jk-rowling-transphobic-statements-timeline-history-controversy
Gardner, Abby (February 7, 2023). A Complete Breakdown of the J.K. Rowling Transgender-Comments Controversy. Glamour https://www.glamour.com/story/a-complete-breakdown-of-the-jk-rowling-transgender-comments-controversy
Muir, Ellie (Feburary 20, 2023). A timeline of JK Rowling’s comments about women and transgender rights. The Independent https://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/books/news/jk-rowling-trans-rights-controversy-timeline-b2285947.html
Chiu, Allyson (8 July 2020). “Letter signed by J.K. Rowling, Noam Chomsky warning of stifled free speech draws mixed reviews”. Washington Post. https://www.washingtonpost.com/nation/2020/07/08/letter-harpers-free-speech/ [archive]
Milne, Amber; Savage, Rachel (11 June 2020). “Explainer: J. K. Rowling and trans women in single-sex spaces: what’s the furore?”. Reuters. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-britain-lgbt-rowling-explainer-trfn-idUSKBN23I3AI
Brooks, Libby (11 June 2020). Why is JK Rowling speaking out now on sex and gender debate? The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/jun/11/why-is-jk-rowling-speaking-out-now-on-sex-and-gender-debate
Kottasová, Ivana; Andrew, Scottie (20 December 2019). J.K. Rowling’s ‘transphobia’ tweet row spotlights a fight between equality campaigners and radical feminists. CNN. https://www.cnn.com/2019/12/20/uk/jk-rowling-transgender-explainer-intl-gbr/index.html
Staff report (11 June 2020). JK Rowling responds to trans tweets criticism. BBC News. Reuters. https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-53002557
Staff report (4 January 2021). Feminist writer Judith Butler has given her theory on why JK Rowling has deemed it necessary to speak out on. Pink News. https://www.pinknews.co.uk/2021/01/04/judith-butler-owen-jones-jk-rowling-british-feminism-transphobia/
Staff report (22 December 2020). BBC nominates J.K.Rowling’s controversial essay of trans rights for award”. dw. https://www.dw.com/en/bbc-nominates-jk-rowlings-controversial-essay-on-trans-rights-for-award/a-56014673 [archive]
Flood, Alison (9 October 2020). Stephen King, Margaret Atwood and Roxane Gay champion trans rights in open letter. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/books/2020/oct/09/stephen-king-margaret-atwood-roxane-gay-champion-trans-rights-open-letter-jk-rowling
Rowley, Glenn (11 June 2020). Artists fire back at J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans remarks, share messages in support of the community. Billboard. https://www.billboard.com/culture/pride/artists-fire-back-jk-rowling-anti-trans-remarks-9400386/
Siegel, Tatiana; Abramovitch, Seth (10 June 2020). Universal Parks responds to J.K. Rowling tweets: ‘Our core values include diversity, inclusion and respect’. The Hollywood Reporter. https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/lifestyle/lifestyle-news/universal-parks-responds-jk-rowling-tweets-core-values-include-diversity-inclusion-respect-1297845/
Skrebels, Joe (1 October 2020). WB Interactive president responds to ongoing debate over supporting JK Rowling. IGN. https://www.ign.com/articles/wb-interactive-president-responds-to-ongoing-debate-over-supporting-jk-rowling
Rosenblatt, Kalhan (10 June 2020). J.K. Rowling doubles down in what some critics call a ‘transphobic manifesto’. NBC News. https://www.nbcnews.com/feature/nbc-out/j-k-rowling-doubles-down-what-some-critics-call-transphobic-n1229351
Petter, Olivia (17 September 2020). Mermaids writes open letter to JK Rowling following her recent comments on trans people. The Independent. https://web.archive.org/web/20200615235531/https://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/mermaids-jk-rowling-transphobia-transgender-sexual-abuse-domestic-letter-a9565176.html [archive]
Law, Katie (15 October 2020). JK Rowling and the bitter battle of the book world. Evening Standard. https://www.standard.co.uk/culture/books/trans-battle-book-world-jk-rowling-a4571221.html
Hancock, Sam (27 April 2021). Maya Forstater: who is woman in employment tribunal over transgender comments?. The Independent. Archived from the original on 27 April 2021. Retrieved 27 March 2022.
… criminal defence barrister Allison Bailey – known for launching legal action against LGBT+ rights charity Stonewall over its attempt to have her investigated for setting up the anti-trans rights group LGB Alliance – has also been a vocal supporter of Ms Forstater.
Thorpe, Vanessa (14 June 2020). JK Rowling: from magic to the heart of a Twitter storm. The Guardian. Archived from the original on 4 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
Arrayed on Rowling’s side are some of the veteran voices of feminism, including the radical Julie Bindel, who spoke out in support this weekend …
Yang, Maya (7 October 2021). ‘I’m team Terf’: Dave Chappelle under fire over pro-JK Rowling trans stance. The Guardian
Yasharoff, Hannah (30 December 2021). How the ‘Harry Potter’ reunion addresses author J.K. Rowling’s anti-trans controversy. USA Today
Shirbon, Estelle (10 June 2020). J.K. Rowling reveals past abuse and defends right to speak on trans issues. Reuters. Archived
JK Rowling responds to trans tweets criticism”. BBC News 11 June 2020.
Grant, Katie (22 March 2018). JK Rowling liked transphobic tweet in ‘middle-aged moment’. i.
Sommer, Marni; Kamowa, Virginia; Mahon, Therese (28 May 2020). Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate. Devex. Archived
Petter, Olivia (15 June 2020). JK Rowling criticised over ‘transphobic’ tweet about menstruation. The Independent. Archived
Avila, Pamela (6 June 2020). J.K. Rowling Faces Backlash Over Tweets Considered Transphobic. E! Online. Archived
Chilton, Louis (3 July 2020). Harry Potter fan sites distance themselves from JK Rowling over transgender comments. Independent. Archived
Bui, Hoai-Tran (11 June 2020). The ‘Harry Potter’ Kids Are All Right: Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne Condemn J.K. Rowling’s Trangender Comments. SlashFilm.com. Archived
Haynes, Suyin (11 June 2020). Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne and Other ‘Harry Potter’ Actors Voice Support for Transgender People. Time.
Lewis, Isobel (12 June 2020). Rupert Grint speaks out after JK Rowling’s comments about trans people. The Independent.
Radcliffe, Daniel (8 June 2020). Daniel Radcliffe Responds to J.K. Rowling’s Tweets on Gender Identity. The Trevor Project. Archived
Malvern, Jack (13 June 2020). JK Rowling: flood of tweets reverses Noma Dumezweni’s praise of author. The Times. Archived
Hibberd, James (17 March 2021). Ralph Fiennes defends J.K. rowling amid trans controversy, says backlash is ‘disturbing’. The Hollywood Reporter.
Shirbon, Estelle (10 June 2020). J.K. Rowling reveals past abuse and defends right to speak on trans issues. Reuters.com. Archived
D’Alessandro, Anthony (10 June 2020). J.K. Rowling Defends Trans Statements In Lengthy Essay, Reveals She’s A Sexual Assault Survivor & Says “Trans People Need And Deserve Protection”. Deadline.
Explainer: J. K. Rowling and trans women in single-sex spaces: what’s the furore?”. Reuters. 11 June 2020
J K Rowling, predatory men and the nuance we’re all missing out. The Independent. 11 June 2020
Moore, Matt (13 June 2020). Mermaids writes open letter to JK Rowling following her anti-trans tweets. Gay Times. Archived
Calvario, Liz (10 June 2020). GLAAD President Says J.K. Rowling’s Words Create Dangerous Environment for Transgender Community. ET Online. Archived
Ferber, Alona (22 September 2020). Judith Butler on the culture wars, JK Rowling and living in “anti-intellectual times”. New Statesman. Archived
Siegel, Tatiana; Abramovitch, Seth (10 June 2020). Universal Parks responds to J.K. Rowling tweets: ‘Our core values include diversity, inclusion and respect’. The Hollywood Reporter.
Chris Murphy (10 June 2020). Warner Bros. Finally Responds To J.K. Rowling’s Shocking Commitment to Being Transphobic. Vulture.
Thorpe, Vanessa (14 June 2020). JK Rowling: from magic to the heart of a Twitter storm. The Observer. Archived from the original on 4 July 2020. Retrieved 6 July 2020.
Arrayed on Rowling’s side are some of the veteran voices of feminism, including the radical Julie Bindel, who spoke out in support this weekend: “Her political position is nothing to do with transgender issues. She has always been a feminist and she has inspired generations of young women and men to look into issues of sex-based discrimination,” she told the Observer.
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan (25 June 2020). J.K. Rowling’s lonely fight for women’s rights. The Washington Examiner. Archived
Fitzsimons, Tim (19 June 2020). GOP senator quotes J.K. Rowling while blocking vote on LGBTQ bill. NBC News. Archived
Waterson, Jim (22 June 2020). Authors quit JK Rowling agency over transgender rights. The Guardian. Archived
Waterson, Jim (23 July 2020). Children’s news website apologises to JK Rowling over trans tweet row. The Guardian. Archived
Flood, Alison (28 August 2020). JK Rowling returns human rights award to group that denounces her trans view”. The Guardian. Archived
JK Rowling’s latest book is about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims. PinkNews. 14 September 2020. Archived
Review: Yep, J.K. Rowling’s new thriller has transphobic elements. It’s also a crashing bore. Los Angeles Times. 22 September 2020. Archived
Kolirin, Lianne (15 September 2020). JK Rowling’s new book sparks fresh transgender rights row. CNN. Archived
Flood, Alison (15 September 2020). JK Rowling’s Troubled Blood: don’t judge a book by a single review. The Guardian. Archived
Hellen, Nicholas (27 September 2020). Literati rally to JK Rowling’s defence in row over Cormoran Strike book. The Sunday Times. Archived
Eddie Redmayne condemns ‘vitriol’ aimed at JK Rowling after her trans rights comments. The Guardian. 29 September 2020. Archived
‘I don’t think JK Rowling is transphobic,’ says gender-fluid comedian Eddie Izzard. The Telegraph. 1 January 2021.
Tony Blair: Without total change Labour will die”. New Statesman. 11 May 2021.
‘I’m team Terf’: Dave Chappelle under fire over pro-JK Rowling trans stance. The Guardian. 7 October 2021.
US quidditch leagues to change name in effort to break from JK Rowling. the Guardian. 20 December 2021.
Michèle, Joséphine (1 January 2022). Why Harry Potter’s Reunion Mostly Ignores JK Rowling. ScreenRant
Return to Hogwarts: Critics bemoan Rowling’s absence in Harry Potter reunion. BBC News. 29 December 2021
Romano, Nick (30 December 2021). Why J.K. Rowling didn’t join the Harry Potter reunion for the Return to Hogwarts special. Entertainment Weekly
Russell, Rachel (12 March 2022). JK Rowling accuses Keir Starmer of ‘misrepresenting equalities law’ on trans women. Sky News
Chilton, Louis (25 April 2022). JK Rowling accused by Lesbian Visibility Week founder of ‘stirring hate within our community’. The Independent
Bollinger, Alex (25 April 2022). JK Rowling now thinks she can say who’s a lesbian & who’s not. LGBTQ Nation
Wakefield, Lily (26 April 2022). JK Rowling blasted as ‘perfect example of how not to be an ally’ by Lesbian Visibility Week founder. PinkNews
Beal, James (19 May 2022). Nadhim Zahawi backs schoolgirl forced out after trans row. The Times.
JK Rowling backs protest over Scottish gender bill. BBC News. 6 October 2022. Retrieved 28 December 2022.
Author JK Rowling has supported a protest rally by wearing a T-shirt calling Scotland’s first minister a “destroyer of women’s rights”.
JK Rowling launches support centre for female victims of sexual violence. The Guardian. 12 December 2022.
Alex Bollinger (19 December 2022). JK Rowling gleefully tweets anti-trans “holiday” message to fan. LGBTQ Nation.
John Russel (13 December 2022). JK Rowling opened a rape crisis center that excludes trans women. LGBTQ Nation.
Ring, Trudy (19 December 2022). J.K. Rowling Lambasted for ‘Merry Terfmas’ Tweet. The Advocate.
Duggan, Jennifer (28 March 2021). Transformative readings: Harry Potter fan fiction, trans/queer reader response, and J. K. Rowling. (PDF). Children’s Literature in Education. 53 (2): 147–168. doi:10.1007/s10583-021-09446-9.
Pape, Madeleine (2022). Feminism, trans justice, and speech rights: a comparative perspective. Law and Contemporary Problems. 85 (1): 215–240.
Pedersen, Sarah (2022). “‘They’ve got an absolute army of women behind them’: the formation of a women’s cooperative constellation in contemporary Scotland. Scottish Affairs. 31 (1): 1–20. doi:10.3366/scot.2022.0394
Schwirblat, Tatiana; Freberg, Karen; Freberg, Laura (2022). Chapter 21: Cancel culture: a career vulture amongst influencers on social media. In Lipschultz, Jeremy Harris; Freberg, Karen; Luttrell, Regina (eds.). The Emerald Handbook of Computer-Mediated Communication and Social Media. Emerald Publishing Limited. doi:10.1108/978-1-80071-597-420221021
Steinfeld, Jemimah (2020). Not my turf: Helen Lewis argues that vitriol around the trans debate means only extreme voices are being heard. Index on Censorship. 49 (1): 34–35. doi:10.1177/0306422020917609
Wagner, Wolfgang; Hayes, Nicky (2022). Repressive moralism: world making and petty fascism in transgender politics. (PDF). Integrative Psychological and Behavioral Science. Springer Publishing. 56 (3): 573–589. doi:10.1007/s12124-021-09670-4
Resources by Rowling
J.K. Rowling (jkrowling.com)
- J.K. Rowling Writes about Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues
- https://www.jkrowling.com/opinions/j-k-rowling-writes-about-her-reasons-for-speaking-out-on-sex-and-gender-issues/ [archive]
Resources about Rowling