J.K. Rowling holding a glass of wine
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When Boris Johnson supports you then your opinion is void

Boris Johnson has declared that JK Rowling is a “modern saint” for her Xcretions about trans women. Having a homophobe and islamphobe giving support is not quite the endorcement he thinks it is. He falls back on the old ‘what people secretly think’ evidence base.

At this year’s Canada Strong and Free Network conference in Ottawa, Boris Johnson had an uncritical and receptive audience for his uninformed ramblings. He took the opportunity to lend support to Rowling by providing evidence from the Conservative fantasy data bank that somehow has telepathic data collection abilities. He was able to inform his credulous audience that “95 per cent” of the population privately agree with her. He was also able to imagine that JK Rowling says what most people “secretly think”.

He of course is the person who has referred to gay men as ‘bum boys‘. Really owning that 1970s homophobic playground hate speech. He had earlier made islamphobic comments about Muslim women by claiming they looked like bank robbers and pillar boxes. Anyone who has a position being defended by a confirmed and unrepentant homophobe and islamphobe really does not have a worthwhile position.

What is the big deal with JK Rowling?

Most people focus on her Xcretion on June 6, 2020, where she denied the validity of trans women and set up the false dichotomy that accepting trans women denied the existence of women. This was not her first interaction with the trans community. In 2017, Rowling “liked” a tweet that linked to an article sharply criticising the transgender rights movement. Later in 2018 Rowling “liked” a tweet that called trans women “men in dresses”.

Another notable ‘contribution’ to her canon of transphobic pronouncements was when she likened trans-rights activists to Death Eaters. In episode 5 of her podcast The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling she describes how Death Eaters feel compelled to live in secret, and that Rowling sees herself as a heroine fighting real life Death Eaters in the form of trans-women.

The Death Eaters claimed, “We have been made to live in secret, and now is our time, and any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die.” They demonized and dehumanized those who were not like them.

I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement, that has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society. I do not see this particular movement as either benign or powerless, so I’m afraid I stand with the women who are fighting to be heard against threats of loss of livelihood and threats to their safety.


While she has not been the most hateful person against trans women, she has allowed more severe and dangerous transphobes to feel validated, and made trans people feel diminished and denied.

Her comments have been extremely upsetting to her trans fans, many of whom felt a strong affinity to the world described in the Harry Potter books. Valentijn De Hingh has given a very moving account about how she as a trans woman has been affected by Rowling’s stance.

The disappointment that is JK Rowling

The author of the Harry Potter books has undoubtedly got a position of influence and is able to amplify any message. There are any number of pressing social issues that would hugely benefit from her support. Child poverty, fuel poverty, homelessness, polluted rivers, crumbling schools, climate change, social injustice and others. Instead she decided to lend her voice to the anti-trans culture war. Having been fully drawn into the culture war she has recently been thumbing her nose at the Scottish police and taunting them to arrest her. Now no worthwhile cause would want anything to do with her.

Culture War primer

To be absolutely clear where this is coming from. The latest iteration of the culture war agenda, including transphobia, was part of a workshopped campaign predominantly devised by the likes of Terry Schilling (president of the right wing think tank, American Principles Project). Their focus was to come up with topics to enrage their support base as a distraction from the Republican Party having no credible economic or industrial policies. Topics that could create a lot of ‘froth’ and enable their senators to create laws at little cost to them to solve problems that they had created and amplified.

‘don’t have the guts’ to say what the author does out of fear of causing offence

JK Rowling just says what most people “secretly think” about gender, Boris Johnson has said

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