JK Rowling stands by comments on women's rights after fierce backlash

Author JK Rowling(Photo: Reuters)

JK Rowling is standing her ground over comments on women's rights after facing fierce criticism over her response to an article that referred to "people who menstruate".

On Saturday, the Harry Potter author tweeted: "I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Since then, she has faced a backlash from LGBT and trans activists, with criticism also coming from actors Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne, who starred in the Harry Potter movie franchise and its spin-off, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

In a lengthy piece published to her own website on Wednesday night, Rowling said she supported trans rights and wanted trans people to feel safe, but felt compelled to speak out about the article for a number of reasons, including the protection of free speech and her concern over the explosion in young women both transitioning and de-transitioning. 

She said her response to the article had been because of what she "felt was degrading language about women" as she dismissed the argument that criticism amounted to hatred towards trans people.

In a wideranging article, she warned that "political parties seeking to appease the loudest voices in this debate are ignoring women's concerns at their peril", and said she empathised with trans women fearing for their lives at the hands of men because she herself had experienced domestic abuse and sexual assault. 

"It would be so much easier to tweet the approved hashtags – because of course trans rights are human rights and of course trans lives matter – scoop up the woke cookies and bask in a virtue-signalling afterglow. There's joy, relief and safety in conformity," she wrote.

She went on to say, though, that many women are "justifiably terrified" of trans activists.

"I know this because so many have got in touch with me to tell their stories. They're afraid of doxxing, of losing their jobs or their livelihoods, and of violence," Rowling said. 

"But endlessly unpleasant as its constant targeting of me has been, I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.

"I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight and trans, who're standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who're reliant on and wish to retain their single sex spaces." 

Amy Orr Ewing, Senior Vice-President of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, welcomed Rowling's comments. 

"Absolutely brilliant writing by@jk_rowling," she tweeted. "Such empathy, honesty, vulnerability, strength and clarity whilst reflecting on one of the big questions of our day. Thank you for sharing your perspective and your story. It really matters."