28 September 2020

‘Hate speech’ victim JK Rowling expresses gratitude after support over gender identity comments

JK Rowling has expressed her gratitude after playwright Sir Tom Stoppard and actress Frances Barber signed a letter saying she is a victim of “an insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media”.

Author Ian McEwan and actor and writer Griff Rhys Jones are also among 58 signatories to the letter which said it was “just the latest example of hate speech directed against her and other women that Twitter and other platforms enable and implicitly endorse”.

The Harry Potter author has attracted strong criticism for comments on gender identity but vehemently denies she is transphobic.

After reviews of Troubled Blood, Rowling’s latest Cormoran Strike detective novel which she writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, revealed it featured a male murderer with a fetish for women’s clothing, #RIPJKRowling trended on Twitter.

The letter in the Sunday Times, also signed by author Lionel Shriver, writers Graham Linehan and Andrew Davies and actors Alexander Armstrong, Ben Miller and James Dreyfus, said: “We are signing this letter in the hope that, if more people stand up against the targeting of women online, we might at least make it less acceptable to engage in it or profit from it.”

Responding on Twitter, Rowling wrote: “My weekend was heavy (in the very best sense!) on family and light on reading the news, so I only realised this morning that this letter appeared in the Sunday Times yesterday.

“I’m profoundly grateful to all the signatories, not only on a personal level, (though believe me, I’m EXTREMELY grateful on that level), but because the signatories are showing solidarity with all the women who’re currently speaking up for their own rights and facing threats of violence and even death in return.

“This is also an opportunity to express my gratitude once more to the thousands of people who’ve sent me personal emails and letters of support. I’m trying to respond to all of them, so please forgive me if I haven’t yet got to yours!”

Rowling was accused of being transphobic after responding to an article headlined “Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate”.

She tweeted: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

Rowling, 55, defended her comments and said: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction.

“If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

She was criticised by Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint.

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