My Thoughts on JK Rowling & The Sun

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{This opinion piece is probably going to be a bit poorly formatted because I’m trying to be thorough with my feelings, but it all keeps circling back and forth and around and around.}

JK Rowling has some questionable views about the LGBTQ+ community. She has a shaky record at best in how she’s handled her relationship with us. From the meme inducing “Dumbledore was gay all along!” to more personal faux pas via Twitter, she keeps getting herself in the limelight for all the wrong reasons.

Her recent debacle seems to have sealed the deal of Rowling being a TERF or Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist. TERF is a point of view that basically discounts transwomen as meaningful voices in the feminist community. These are people who also tend to tell transmen that they’re just confused.

In short, she made light of the term ‘people who menstruate’ by rather passive-aggressively playing with the word ‘woman’ as if it has become some ancient, lost, and taboo terminology. I’m not here to fight her on that. Enough people are fighting her on that terminology already.

This point of view shouldn’t really come as much of a surprise from Rowling and her LGBTQ+ retcon tokening in her Harry Potter series. She’s left a bad taste in the community’s mouth for a long time. But I just want to say that even though she’s sketchy in her LGBTQ+ support and very likely a true-blue TERF, that does not mean she deserves the level of harassment she has received at the hands of one UK publication.

Let us never forget that Rowling did a lot for many people. Her words have changed lives, built meaningful communities, and even meaningful relationships. We cannot discount the impact her literature has had on the world. And most importantly, regardless of her personal ideologies, we cannot forget that she is human. And by none of this do I mean she’s exempt from criticism.

I firmly believe that in the case of Rowling, we should divorce the art from its creator. Perhaps Rowling meant well with her ‘activism’ at some point, but it’s clearly going downhill and if she knew what was best for her reputation, she’d just stay quieter on controversial issues such as these.

I wasn’t even going to write this piece, but as I was one of the many voices that were vocal about being disappointed in her latest snafu, I figured I should also come out and state my opinion on what occurred on June 12, 2020.

For those unfamiliar with the situation, the UK tabloid, The Sun, published a front-page article featuring an interview with JK Rowling’s abusive ex-husband. A man, who when given this platform, did little to dissuade his poor reputation of being a cruel and abusive human being. I will neither link the article nor will I evaluate the article itself. There are plenty of people doing that. What I WILL be doing is explaining WHY this is something EVERYONE should be upset about. And, more specifically, why I as a transperson, am upset about this.

Checking into Twitter, the vast response was disapproval of the Sun’s article. This was heartening to see on the back of the latest “Rowling’s a TERF” brigade, of which, yes, I was a part. But why is it such a bad thing? Why is it bad to willingly reach out to an abusive individual and give them a platform? If that phrasing wasn’t enough to give you a hint, let me explain.

JK Rowling is her own person. Though many thrive off her success, she remains her own woman with her own feelings and ethics. She is allowed to have her own thoughts. And she is allowed to be criticized for them as a public figure. However, never, and I mean never, is it okay to undermine her very existence and perception of self by offering both leverage and a platform to someone who has, in the past, both physically and emotionally abused her.

Did the Sun believe they were just hopping on the Rowling hate train? Did they think that all the disgusted LGBTQ+ people would respond positively to hearing the story of someone who abused their current pariah? Maybe publishing an article documenting Rowling’s history with the community could have had such an effect, but this? Who thought this up? Who sat down and said “Hey, the world’s turning on Rowling again. How can we hop on the hate train and bury her even deeper?” That’s cruelty. That’s the definition of cruelty.

One could perhaps argue that Rowling saying what she does with the platform she has is a form of cruelty, but let’s keep context in mind. Those are her words and her thoughts. She is allowed to have them. She is allowed to say them and by her own conviction, she is allowed to stand by them. She is allowed to be whoever she defines herself as. Is she truly a TERF? Does it matter when it comes to protecting her sense of dignity?

I would sooner stand up for a TERF, someone who says I shouldn’t exist or that my voice doesn’t matter, than let some lecherous slime-ridden rag give a platform to a scum-of-the-earth individual just to kick said TERF while they’re down.

I know I’m late to this debacle, I always am, that’s just how it is. But I will forever preach love and acceptance even to those who struggle with or outright refuse to love and accept me. It is only by being compassionate and understanding that we can ever hope to bridge the gap between ourselves and those who would question our validity. We cannot stand idly by while Rowling is dehumanized on public display. And if YOU are someone who dehumanized her after her latest escapades, YOU are part of the problem.

I think its time we all moved away from her. I think its time we all just gradually reduced her platform and let her prattle on in her TERF echo chamber and be happy with herself. I think its time we all grew up and just accepted JK Rowling for who she is. We may not like it, but we cannot change it. At the same time, we cannot be complacent when such affronts to dignity occur in such casually hateful manners.

Whether or not we see JK Rowling as a good person, doesn’t matter. Maybe she is, maybe she isn’t. That’s subjective. (My personal opinion is that she’s falling swiftly from grace and can’t help but dig her hole deeper and deeper, but that’s just me.) What matters is that we speak up when things like The Sun debacle occur.

Did she deserve the backlash to her TERF Tweets? To me? Deserving has nothing to do with it. She posted questionable content on a public forum and got slammed. Was all of it constructive? Of course not. There was plenty of vitriol woven into sentiments of dismay, hurt, and confusion.

But did she deserve to have the memories of her abusive past exhumed and put on public display as punishment for her beliefs?

No. Objectively no.

And if you feel otherwise, the door’s that way.

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