Author JK Rowling. (Ben Pruchnie/Getty Images)
Trans rights activist and professional track cyclist Rachel McKinnon explains her thoughts on JK Rowling after the author came out in support of an anti-trans woman today.
This was shaping up to be a decent week for trans people.
Yesterday, there was a little hope with US president Trump being impeached by the House of Representatives.
Also yesterday, an outspoken transphobe, Maya Forstater, lost her employment discrimination case.
Her loss now paves the way for firing transphobes for saying transphobic things, as transphobic statements and opinions are not a protected “philosophical belief” under the 2010 UK Equality Act, so rules an Employment Tribunals judge.
But then famed author JK Rowling comes out and tweets her support for Forstater’s transphobic cause, in the tweet that is now being seen by muggles the world over.
No Expecto Patronum spell is going to protect her from the blowback this time.
In the past, Rowling had at least some semblance of plausible deniability over accusations of transphobia.
She followed a noted transphobe and retweeted out a tweet about trans women being ‘men.’ Her representative told PinkNews that it was a “clumsy and middle-aged moment.”
But this wasn’t merely following a transphobe, or even the single-button retweet of something transphobic.
No, she thought about her own words to throw her support, with her massive platform, behind a transphobe who lost her job for being transphobic.
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
“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?
The ‘Maya’ in “IStandWithMaya” refers to Forstater. It’s a hashtag being used widely today by infamous transphobes.
As part of her filings, Forstater wrote: “As part of her complaint, Ms. Forstater submitted the following statement: ‘I believe that it is impossible to change sex or to lose your sex.
‘”Girls grow up to be women. Boys grow up to be men.
“‘No change of clothes or hairstyle, no plastic surgery, no accident or illness, no course of hormones, no force of will or social conditioning, no declaration can turn a female person into a male, or a male person into a female’.”
As Rowling puts it, the so-called “gender critical” belief is that trans women are not women, they are not female, and that saying this is merely “stating that sex is real.”
It’s dogwhistle transphobia.
The thing is, the court ruling was completely unambiguous.
As Judge J Taylor put it, such an “absolutist” view of sex is and that it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.
“The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
That last sentence is part of a legal ‘test’ for whether speech (or “philosophical beliefs,” in UK legal terms), known as the Grainger Criteria, is protected by provisions in the 2010 UK Equality Act.
The judge ruled that transphobic hate speech is not protected: it’s open season to fire transphobes for being transphobic in the UK now!
Judge J Taylor ruled that: “The specific belief that the Claimant holds as determined in the reasons, is not a philosophical belief protected by the Equality Act 2010.”
Further, “if a person has transitioned from male to female and has a Gender Recognition Certificate that person is legally a woman. That is not something that the Claimant is entitled to ignore.”
Believe whatever the hell you want. Say whatever the hell you want.
But ‘free speech’ doesn’t mean ‘speech free from consequences.’
This is a landmark ruling against transphobic hate speech.
Forstater is currently fundraising to pay for her legal fees and to launch an appeal. She’s raised over £85,000 so far.
JK Rowling just used her huge platform to #IStandWithMaya.
I stand with trans people. #TransRightsAreHumanRights.
The opinions within this article do not necessarily reflect the views of PinkNews.