19th Dec 2019
The Harry Potter author expressed support for a researcher whose views on transgender people were condemned by a court on Wednesday as “incompatible with human dignity”
Having not tweeted since November, JK Rowling broke her Twitter silence to speak out in support of a researcher who lost an employment tribunal case for using “offensive and exclusionary” language on Twitter.
Rowling tweeted about Maya Forstater, who lost her job at an international thinktank after a series of tweets, including one in which she said: “Men cannot change into women.”
Rowling, who has 14.6 million followers, said in the tweet: “Dress however you please (…) But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?” She referenced the case using the hashtag #IStandWithMaya.
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
Forstater, a tax expert, was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), an international thinktank that campaigns against poverty and inequality.
She was accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language in tweets opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex.
Her contract at the charitable organisation was not renewed in March after the dispute over publicising her views on social media.
She was accused at the employment tribunal of having retweeted transphobic material, including a newspaper cartoon of a person flashing two women at a London swimming pond, with the caption “It’s alright — it’s a woman’s penis.”
Court documents show that she had previously tweeted that “it is unfair and unsafe for trans women to compete in women’s sport.”
I am perfectly happy to use preferred pronouns and accept everyone’s humanity and right to free expression. Transwomen are transwomen. That’s great. But enforcing the dogma that transwomen are women is totalitarian
— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) October 2, 2018
Forstater took her case to an employment tribunal on the grounds that her dismissal constituted discrimination against her beliefs. However, this week, Judge James Tayler dismissed her claim, saying her views are “absolutist in her view of sex” and “incompatible with human dignity and the fundamental rights of others.”
Rowling has hugely divided fans and Twitter users with her stance on the issue, with many expressing sadness and disappointment over her viewpoint.
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?
— Noel is entering peak holiday spirit (@notafootstool) December 19, 2019
Trans women are women.
Trans men are men.
Non-binary people are non-binary.
CC: JK Rowling.
— Human Rights Campaign (@HRC) December 19, 2019
It’s deeply disappointing to me that someone who created something so magical and brought so much joy to the world could be so irresponsible and hateful.
— Kelly Given (@kellygivenX) December 19, 2019
Trending with Rowling’s name was the word “TERF,” an acronym for trans-exclusionary radical feminist. TERFs — or, as they prefer to be known, gender critical feminists, who do not believe that transgender women should be considered women for the purposes of shared spaces and political discussion.
However, some expressed support for Rowling, also via Tweets.
Hey JK – from a little author to a big one pic.twitter.com/8eKcVDs13X
— RachelRooney (@RooneyRachel) December 19, 2019
Thank you, JK Rowling ?
— Hadley Freeman (@HadleyFreeman) December 19, 2019
Bold and brave stuff from @jk_rowling
— Katie Hopkins (@KTHopkins) December 19, 2019
The issue has, to put it mildly, divided the public. And others made the point about free speech being protected but not allowing this to crossover into discrimination in a workplace environment.
Everyone else has covered the JK Rowling thing pretty well, but yeah, big free speech proponent here: People should be protected in expressing unpopular and even ugly views. But that doesn’t mean you get to maintain employment while discriminating & creating workplace hostility.
— Jill Filipovic (@JillFilipovic) December 19, 2019
So far, Rowling has not commented further on the issue.
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