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From the community | I agree with JK Rowling, and so do you

What do you call it when thousands threaten to rape and murder a woman, strangers online tell her to kill herself, and protesters post her home address online so crowds can search for her in person? The words that come to mind are “harassment”, “cyberbullying” and “criminal threats”. No honest person would find such behavior acceptable, especially if they were committed to tolerance, equality and peace. But apparently the rules are different for JK Rowling, who in recent years has been inundated with death threats and even doxxed by people who claim to be pursuing justice.

His offence? Defend women’s rights. Rowling’s reluctance to embrace the policies set forth by transgender advocates is not rooted in bigotry of any kind. Rather, it is driven by concerns about how these policies have been abused and the resulting threat to women’s safety. And while no one is forced to agree with what Rowling has to say, we should at least respect her right to say it without being threatened and slandered.

The controversy began in 2019, when Rowling tweeted in support of Maya Forstater, a Briton who lost her work because of her belief that sex is immutable. (A court finally ruled that the decision to fire Forstater violated his protections under the Equality Act.) As the situation unfolded, Rowling tweeted, “Dress as you see fit. Call yourself what you want. Sleep with any consenting adult who has you. Live your best life in peace and security. But forcing women out of their jobs for saying sex is real? #IStandWithMaya”.

There is nothing detestable in these sentences; in fact, the Tweet explicitly supports an extremely socially liberal view. But the mere support of the idea that sex is real was seen as evidence of undeniable transphobia.

The outrage continued in June 2020 when Rowling underline the dehumanizing language in a editorial about “menstruating people”. She’s not alone in pointing out the insulting tendency to refer to women primarily in terms of their reproductive function, including phrases like “give birth to people” and “body with vaginas.” Not everyone who menstruates identifies as a woman, and not all women menstruate, but periods, vaginas, and childbirth are still properties of the female body. To deny this is simply illogical and complicates the resolution of aspects of gender inequality such as female genital mutilation, menstrual poverty and maternal mortality.

Coverage of the line by other media has been exaggerated to the point of absurdity. Voice accused Rowling’s “Lifetime[ing] the kind of pernicious hatred and misinformation that leads trans women, especially teenage girls and black trans women, to become victims of sexual assault” without bothering to explain how the fundamental fact that women menstruate might explain a violent crime. vogue, Vulture and The Washington Post also joined the chorus, doubling down on the denial of basic reality by insisting that menstruation is a “genderless” experience.

Shortly after, Rowling published a rich and poignant essay that culminated in an account of her experience as a survivor of domestic violence and sexual assault. This, Rowling explains, is the latest reason for her concerns “about the consequences of current trans activism”:

“When you open the doors to bathrooms and locker rooms to any man who believes or feels he is female – and, as I said, gender confirmation certificates can now be issued without the need for surgery or hormones – then you open the door to all the men who wish to enter. [Emphasis is mine.]

The problem is not with trans people. It is with policies that allow men to enter spaces designed to keep women safe. And it is with the people who take advantage of these policies to harass, intimidate, assault and terrorize women in these places.

This essay should have opened the door to conversations about balancing the dignity of trans people with the safety of women and girls. You’d think those invested in ending gender-based violence would be particularly sympathetic to what Rowling went through.

But none of that seemed to matter to the actors whose career she launched, the countless media who reported her “transphobia” as if it were a fact and not an accusation, the former fans who burning his books (and brags about it on TikTok), the user behind a deleted account from whom threatens with a “homemade bomb” and the activists who recently doxxed his. (The next day they deleted the post containing Rowling’s address not because encouraging harassment is wrong, but because they had “received an overwhelming amount of … transphobic messages” in response.)

And despite everything, Rowling refuses to capitulate. Over the past year, she has continued to use her platform to talk about difficulties faced by detransitioners, the concerns tendency of medical professionals prescribe puberty blockers to children despite their long-term health risksthe madness of police documenting rapists with male genitalia as women and the fear faced by lesbians within the LGBT community.

Of course, part of the reason Rowling continues to stand up for what she believes in has to do with the fact that she’s authored one of the most successful book series in human history. Those who share his beliefs but not his fame have lost their jobs, been ostracized and threatened with violence.

The demonization of JK Rowling is a symptom of an increasingly illiberal climate that stifles dialogue, punishes dissent and threatens the ideals of a free society. Those of us who believe in liberal values ​​of tolerance and open-mindedness can no longer be silent. Support Rowling’s right to speak her mind without fear, and you will defend your own right to do the same. Sit down – or worse, join in the hate – and you’ll feed a monster. As Albus Dumbledore told the students of Hogwarts at the end of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire”, “There will come a time when we have to choose between what is easy and what is right”. The rest of us have that choice too. Let’s do it right.