A representative for JK Rowling has blamed a “middle-aged moment” for liking a transphobic tweet that described transgender women as being “men in dresses”.
It comes amid heightened tensions around transgender women in the U.K.‘s Labour party. What should be a very simple move – i.e. that Labour is including trans women on all-women shortlists for parliamentary seats, whether or not they have a gender recognition certificate – is becoming contentious, with everything from party figures wanting measures to ensure men’s rights activists can’t stand as a woman to prove a dumb point, to Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) back on their bullshit, claiming that trans women aren’t ‘real’ women.
Anyway, so into this deeply political mess comes a tweet from a prominent anti-transgender campaigner, which is basically another way of saying she’s a shitty person but in a really loud way.
“I was shouted at by men at my first Labour Party meeting aged 18 because I asked them to remove a Page 3 calendar,” the campaigner tweeted. “I’ve been told to toughen up, be louder, stronger, independent. I’ve often not felt supported. Men in dresses get brocialist solidarity I never had. That’s misogyny!”
The woman has since put her profile to private, but you know what they say: screenshots are forever.
TERFs: it's men that abuse transwomen (sic) not women.
also TERFs: transwomen get all the brocialist solidarity and women get none.
yeah, bollocks. Most support i get – about 90% – is from other women. pic.twitter.com/L1rtin28ja
— stop me if you've heard this one before (@stellostar) March 21, 2018
And at some point, the Harry Potter author liked that tweet, prompting a wave of hurt and disappointment from the trans community.
“Trans culture is seeing the beloved author of your generation like a transphobic tweet from a troll account which has repeatedly called you a man,” wrote trans woman Shon Faye.
Trans culture is seeing the beloved author of your generation like a transphobic tweet from a troll account which has repeatedly called you a man pic.twitter.com/LWceAoVTOC
— S H O N (@shonfaye) March 21, 2018
— Philip Ellis (@Philip_Ellis) March 21, 2018
Wait so @jk_rowling wrote books where the characters could literally transform into cats and dead people but trans folk are beyond all comprehension? 'Men in dresses' from a woman who literally made a fortune writing about MEN IN DRESSES? Waahh what this is just so crappy pic.twitter.com/7wnkJe4Qa0
— a girl called jack |???????? (@BootstrapCook) March 21, 2018
jk rowling: *spinning a huge wheel* the sorting hat was uh…a poverty blogger, anyway trans women are subhuman
— Goth Ms. Frizzle (@spookperson) March 21, 2018
Following the outcry, a rep for Rowling has now blamed general clumsiness for her liking the tweet.
“I’m afraid JK Rowling had a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favourited by holding her phone incorrectly,” the rep told PinkNews.
However, when The Independent reported on the news some 13 hours ago, the tweet was still showing in Rowling’s ‘likes’. When asked why she hadn’t unliked it, the rep told the publication: “I think she’s just had other things to do – she’s busy writing at the moment.”
The tweet no longer appears in Rowling’s likes, but since the original author has since set her account to private, it’s impossible to know if Rowling unliked the tweet or if it’s simply hidden from public view.
Regardless, Rowling’s explanation isn’t really cutting it with her critics.
“If I accidentally liked a tweet and a blogpost calling gay men ‘benders’ I’d probably have clarified my support for gay people,” said Shon. “‘Men in dresses’ is a similar kind of insult for trans women.”
If I accidentally liked a tweet and a blogpost calling gay men "benders" I'd probably have clarified my support for gay people. "Men in dresses" is a similar kind of insult for trans women.
— S H O N (@shonfaye) March 22, 2018
She has yet to make a public comment on Twitter about the incident.Image: Getty Images / Danny Martindale