Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Will this affect how trans activists view J.K Rowling?

I don't know if you've been following it, but superstar author J.K. Rowling has made a lot of enemies recently in the LGBTQ community due to her apparent fixation with trans women, whom - or at least some aspects of whom - she sees as potentially endangering some of the successes feminists have made in recent decades.
This includes aspects such as allowing trans women to use women's public washrooms, for example, which Ms. Rowling sees - as I understand her argument - as setting the dangerous precedent of opening female washrooms up to all males (although why she would think that, and why she would see a trans woman as a potential rapist anyway, I'm not sure - this is not where rapes occur). It also includes the even more contentious issue of whether a lot of young people are transitioning due to peer pressure, and not a person's innate gender identity.
Anyway, copious amounts of virtual ink have already been spilled on this topic on Twitter and elsewhere, the crux being that many transgender people latched onto the Harry Potter books as kids because they saw in Harry an outsider they could relate to, which I've always seen as a bit of a tenuous connection, but who am I to speak? Since Ms. Rowling's very public pursuit of a feminism that seems to exlude transgender individuals, although she claims not to be a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist - yes, it's a thing), many trans individuals are feeling hurt, betrayed and deeply disappointed by her apparent transphobia (which she also denies, incidentally).
Setting aside the whole issue of separating the art from the artist, which is actually VERY germane in this case, this is a controversy that is huge on social media, and it shows no signs of petering out any time soon.
Following her latest Twitter outburst (against the use of the trans-inclusive phrase "people who menstruate", which I find awkward, weird and a little dehumanizing, although not particularly offensive), and the furore that greeted it - including from Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, and Newt Scamander, AKA Eddie Redmayne - Ms. Rowling obviously felt the time had arrived to explain in a bit more detail where she is coming from.
So, this notoriously private person has now publicly shared a whole load of information about her traumatic childhood and her violent first marriage dealing with obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), domestic abuse and sexual assault. She says she is not looking for sympathy, merely trying to explain how she ended up a radical feminist (although perhaps not how she then took the route towards TERF-dom).
Frankly, I'm not sure that this will go very far at all in placating Ms. Rowlimg's pro-trans detractors - I know that from talking to my own daughter, who has very strong (and unchanged) views on the subject . In fact, she may have dug herself in even deeper in some people's opinions. But maybe some people will look on her a little differently now, who knows.
I just thought it was worth reading her side of the story in a bit more detail. Because it seems to me that at least part of the problem is Twitter itself, which leaves no room for nuance, and positively encourages off-the-cuff, throwaway remarks and poorly thought out, knee-jerk responses.

No comments: