UPDATE 6/10 @ 9:10 p.m. ET: Warner Bros., the studio that produced the Harry Potter films, has responded with a statement. “The events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues,” the studio said to our sister publication Variety. “Warner Bros.’ position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world. We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all. We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content,” they also said.
Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling used a rare appearance on Twitter to send her support to Maya Forstater, a researcher in England who was fired for sending transphobic tweets. Rowling herself is now being accused of transphobia after writing, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?#IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
A judge ruled on December 18 that Forstater, a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, an international organization that campaigns against poverty and inequality, should be terminated from her position for using “offensive and exclusionary” in past tweets. Fostater had tweeted that “men cannot change into women,” among other transphobic remarks. Following the December 18 ruling, she said in a statement that, “My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.
Of course we do not know what Rowling was thinking, but this is not the first time that Rowling has been accused of transphobia on Twitter. In 2018, the author liked a tweet from a person campaigning to keep trans women off the Labour Party’s all women lists. The tweet, now either deleted or made private, read: “I was shouted at by men at my first Labour Party meeting aged 18 because I asked them to remove a Page 3 calendar. I’ve been told to be louder, stronger, independent. I’ve often not felt supported. Men in dresses get brocialist solidarity I never had. that’s misogyny!” Her reps blamed the “like” on her having a “middle-aged moment.”
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
Rowling also follows a number of TERFs and transphobes on Twitter, including writer Julie Bindel. We’d rather not repeat her vile words, but you can read example here if you like. Rowling’s fans — some now former — responded to the author on Twitter, incredulous that she would support Forstater. “Did Dolores Umbridge write this?” one person wrote. “I grew up as a trans child reading your books as an escape. I would often pick out names from characters to give to myself, before I ever felt comfortable in who I was. This decision, to support people that hate me, and want to do me harm. It brings me to tears… Why. Why?” a disappointed fan wrote.
Trans activist Charlotte Clymer penned a letter to Rowling in response to the tweet, telling the author, “In fact, the World Health Organization–among countless other medical authorities–validate trans people in their authentic gender identity. It is quite clear you don’t understand the first thing about the trans community or the science at play. This is heartbreaking.” Rowling has yet to respond to the controversy, and has not tweeted since.