'Harry Potter' Scribe Sparks Fresh Twitter Tussle with More 'Anti-Trans' Comments

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Monday July 6, 2020

JK Rowling
JK Rowling  (Source:Associated Press)

Novelist JK Rowling, the creative force behind the "Harry Potter" and "Fantastic Beasts" franchises, leapt into fresh controversy with a "like" for a tweet that seemingly made a comparison between gender-affirming hormone therapy and the checkered history of anti-depressant use for young people.

Deadline reports that the tweet I question "compared hormone prescriptions to anti-depressants, which were overprescribed to teenagers in the past with sometimes harmful results."

Deadline reports that when Rowling was called out by users on the social media platform - including one individual who took exception because they have been helped by anti-depressants - Deadline reports, she fired off a new response in which she declared, "I've ignored fake tweets attributed to me and RTed widely. I've ignored porn tweeted at children on a thread about their art. I've ignored death and rape threats. I'm not going to ignore this."

Rowling went on to add:

When you lie about what I believe about mental health medication and when you misrepresent the views of a trans woman for whom I feel nothing but admiration and solidarity, you cross a line.

I've written and spoken about my own mental health challenges, which include OCD, depression and anxiety. I did so recently in my essay 'TERF Wars'. I've taken anti-depressants in the past and they helped me.

But then Rowling went on to cross what others viewed as a line in their turn, suggesting that teens who are not actually trans are being "shunted towards hormones and surgery," and calling gender affirmation treatments "a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people."

As it has been widely understood to this point, so-called "conversion therapy" is a quack practice that purports to "cure" LGBTQ people through prayer and talk therapy, adopting the Freudian notion of homosexuality as a psychological state resulting from inadequate parental participation on a father's part while the mother dominates a child's life.

Some survivors of "conversion therapy" have described being subjected to forms of "treatment" that amount to torture.

Offering some context for her remark, Rowling tweeted: "These concerns were explored by the recent BBC documentary about the Tavistock Clinic. Whistleblowers were talking about transitions driven by homophobia."

Some responses were skeptical.

"Already been investigated and discredited," one Twitter user replied.

Wrote another: "Why would any parent prefer that their child was trans rather than gay? That makes no sense... As it happens, my daughter is trans and a lesbian. It's possible to be both!"

Others pointed to a putative practice in Iran in which gay people are forced to endure gender reassignment in order that they will no longer be gay - despite sexual orientation and gender identity being two very separate things. Others reiterated the allegation that parents of gay children were pushing for gender reassignment for their children with the same idea - that of a child's gender were to be changed, the "issue" of them being gay would disappear.

The tweets are just the latest volley in an ongoing controversy that has been carried out largely on Twitter. The ongoing social media strife started last month when Rowling sent out tweets critical of an essay that referred to "people who menstruate," evidently meaning cisgender women.

Tweeted Rowling:

"I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," the famous British author tweeted. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

In a separate tweet, Rowling opined:

"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."

Rowling followed up with:

I respect every trans person's right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I'd march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it's hateful to say so."

Others evidently disagreed. GLAAD came out against Rowling's comments, stating, "JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans." A number of actors who have starred in films based on Rowling's works publicly disagreed with the author, including "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe.

In a June 10 blog post, Rowling doubled down, writing:

"I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it."

The controversy has even affected Rowling's as-yet-unpublished book, "The Ickabog." According to reports, Millennial staffers at "Harry Potter" Rowling's publisher, Hachette, have said that they may not be willing to continue working on that upcoming title.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Assistant Arts Editor. He also reviews theater for WBUR. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.

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