Today’s story of JK Rowling and an anti-trans tweet is a good example of how lazy reporting reinforces bullshit.
If you missed it (and you probably didn’t; it’s been all over the media today): last night, the author tweeted in support of the anti-trans activist Maya Forstater, claiming that her defeat in a tribunal was an attempt to “force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real”. #IStandWithMaya, she wrote.
That’s been reported as Rowling supporting free speech, but it isn’t.
It’s Rowling telling her 14 million followers to support a bully.
Forstater wasn’t forced out of her job; her employer chose not to renew her fixed term contract. She wasn’t told she couldn’t state that “sex is real”; she was told that she didn’t have the legal right to create a hostile and humiliating environment for her co-workers.
Forstater has said publicly that her case was intended to establish a legal precedent: the precedent she wanted would give anti-trans activists the legal right to be as abusive as they liked towards trans colleagues without consequences.
That isn’t how this is being reported. It’s being reported as “cancel culture”, the sinister “woke mafia” picking on a national treasure.
But Rowling has form for this. She was an unapologetic follower of anti-trans activist Magdalen Berns, who claimed that there was a Jewish-funded conspiracy to turn the world trans and that trans women are “fucking blackface actors” who “aren’t women” but “get sexual kicks from being treated like women. Fuck you and your dirty fucking perversions… you pathetic, sick fuck”. She’s publicly liked anti-trans tweets claiming trans people are “men in dresses” and when called out on it, she had her PR team claim that it was a “clumsy and middle-aged moment” because she doesn’t want to upset her significant LGBT+ fanbase.
By misrepresenting what the Forstater case was actually about, Rowling is fuelling anti-trans sentiment. The reporting over this is perpetuating the myth that women are being silenced by the sinister trans lobby while giving those women global press coverage for their supposedly silenced views.
Here’s journalist Laurie Penny.
Trans people, and trans women in particular, have for years been under attack by dedicated cohort of the British press, egged on by a small group of transphobic extremists. Transphobic views have been normalised in Britain. That’s the context for JK’s comments today.