jk rowling transphobic tweets

Author J.K. Rowling delivers an address at Harvard University’s commencement ceremonies June 5, 2008, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo: AFP/Robert Spencer

JK Rowling under fire for ‘inaccurate and cruel’ transphobic tweets

‘Harry Potter’ author JK Rowling created a stir when she criticised a headline from an op-ed piece which included the phrase “people who menstruate”.

jk rowling transphobic tweets

Author J.K. Rowling delivers an address at Harvard University’s commencement ceremonies June 5, 2008, in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Photo: AFP/Robert Spencer

Author JK Rowling, who is best known for the Harry Potter series, sparked controversy after posting a series of transphobic tweets when she didn’t agree with an opinion piece.

Why is JK Rowling trending on Twitter?

Rowling shared a link to Opinion: Creating a More Equal Post-COVID-19 World for People who Menstruate, published on Devex, and captioned the tweet:

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

JK Rowling, Twitter, 6 June 2020.

In another tweet, Rowling claimed to “respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them”, and added that she’d “march” against trans discrimination.

Following the backlash she received online, Rowling stood her ground and said her “life has been shaped by being female”. She also claimed to support transgender people, while defending the exclusionary comments.

Hate speech vs telling the truth

Rowling followed that up with another tweet which stated that “if sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” and that the lived reality of women is erased on a global scale.

Rowling added that she “knows and loves trans people”, but added that erasing the concept of sex “removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives”.

According to Rowling, it “isn’t hate speech to tell the truth”. It’s important to note that the phrase “sex isn’t real” isn’t a phrase used by trans activists. Forbes explains:

“‘Sex isn’t real’ isn’t even an argument made by trans activists, who make a clear distinction between biological sex and gender. For whatever reason, Rowling is ranting against a cause that is sure to sever any remaining goodwill from her inclusive fans”. 

Criticism received


GLAAD (formerly known as Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) said there is no excuse for Rowling’s “inaccurate and cruel transphobic comments.

In a response posted on Twitter, GLAAD said Rowling “continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans.

“We stand with trans youth, especially those Harry Potter fans hurt by her inaccurate and cruel tweets. Our friend [Jackson Bird] says it best.”

 Jackson Bird wrote an opinion piece back in 2019 titled, Harry Potter’ Helped Me Come Out as Trans, But J.K. Rowling Disappointed Me.

“The [Harry Potter] series, which I started reading when I was 9 years old, was an escape from my lonely childhood of gender confusion.”

GLAAD suggested that netizens direct their rightful anger over her comments into something positive by supporting organisations that help Black trans people, such as @MPJInstitute, @blacktransusa, @TransJusticeFP, @Genderintell and @ukblackpride.

Netizens respond

Of course, Twitter users didn’t hold back either, with Shon Faye saying the author’s “transphobic outburst light night is basically a display of the bizarre phenomenon of ‘gender critical’ writ large.” Another user, Joan Ford, added:

“Endlessly impressed with JK Rowling’s world-building skills. How do you dream up a world where your imagined persecution by trans people is the most important thing going on right now?! Truly amazing!”

Singer Halsey spoke out about the timing of Rowling’s tweet and contrasted the Harry Potter novels with the worldwide protests against racism and police brutality. She tweeted:

“Imagine writing a generation-defining series about a youth uprisal [sic] that defeats a tyrannical monster motivated by the preservation of ‘pure blood’ and looking at THIS time in the world and going ‘hmm… Yep. I’m gonna invalidate trans people’.”