J.K. Rowling has attracted criticism after tweeting her response to an article about menstruation and has been accused of being transphobic.
The Harry Potter author shared her reaction to an article on Twitter titled ‘Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate’, writing: ‘”People who menstruate.” I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’.
Her comment attracted a great deal of criticism, with many pointing out that some people who identify as women do not menstruate and that some who identify as transgender men or non-binary do.
She faced criticism from Queer Eye‘s Jonathan Van Ness, who wrote: ‘Trans women are women. Trans Black people and trans non-Black people are discriminated against every single day. We’re fighting for Black people and trans people and you’re doing this?’. Another Twitter user added: ‘This is so disgraceful. Of all the hills to die on, and for what reason? Trans women are women and they are fighting for their lives. When you push this trans exclusionary agenda, you make their lives infinitely more difficult. Shame on you.’
‘What happens when women enter menopause?’ questioned another. ‘What about women who had hysterectomies? Women who don’t menstruate because of hormonal issues? Are they not women? Nothing you say stops trans women from being women.’
‘First of all trans people ARE discriminated against on the basis of being trans, there is no ‘if’, and here you are, not marching with the LGBT community,’ said someone else.
One user highlighted her personal story as an example to contradict her comments: “I know you know this because you have been told over and over and over again, but transgender men can menstruate. Non-binary people menstruate. I, a 37-year old woman with a uterus, have not menstruated in a decade. Women are not defined by their periods.”
Advocacy organisation GLAAD have also stated: ‘JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans. In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people.’
They have additionally encouraged people to support organisations that help Black trans people.
Rowling defended herself against accusations of transphobia, going on to explain her feelings on the idea of sex.
‘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 wrote.
‘The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences is nonsense.
‘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.’
Rowling previously faced a backlash in 2019 after she tweeted her support for a woman who lost her job after saying that she thinks a person cannot change their biological sex.