J.K. Rowling's New Book Hits No. 1 in UK Despite Transphobic Plot, Critical Badgering

by Kevin Schattenkirk

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday September 23, 2020

J.K. Rowling
J.K. Rowling  (Source:Evan Agostini/Invision/AP, File)

J.K. Rowling's latest book, under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, "Troubled Blood" hit #1 in the UK book charts, selling 65,000 copies in the first five days after its release last week, The Guardian reports.

The plot of Rowling's latest is equally as troubled, centered on a male "transvestite serial killer," of which an early review in the Telegraph pondered "what critics of Rowling's stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress."

In addition to other critical assessment and social media responses, today's review in VOX reiterates why Rowling's recent anti-trans statements are problematic:

"Fears of a bad man in a dress are one of the main justifications for anti-trans legislation across the globe. In the US and the UK over the past few years, that's taken the form of the bathroom bill controversies: Trans people want to be able to use public restrooms and changing rooms that correspond to their gender identity.

But opponents argue that if trans people were allowed to use the public bathrooms that corresponded to their gender identity, women and children will undoubtedly be menaced by sexual predators using this legal loophole to ogle women in their most vulnerable state. In practice, however, US states that have allowed trans people to use the facilities corresponding to their gender have seen no increase in sexual harassment or assault in public restrooms."

Concluding that "Troubled Blood" is a manifestation of Rowling's transphobia, VOX's assessment is that "it's also just not very good... an example of Rowling at the mercy of all her worst impulses."

Kevin Schattenkirk is an ethnomusicologist and pop music aficionado.

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