Ever since her June 10 essay explaining ‘Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues’ dropped on her website, fans and critics alike have rightly condemned J.K. Rowling for her transphobic views. One of her claims that got the most backlash was that, if the Scottish government approves a revision to their current Gender Recognition laws, men will be able to claim they’re women just by “saying they are”, making it easier for them to attack cis women in same-sex spaces.
Not only is this factually wrong — the proposed Gender Recognition revision still has applicants wait for a minimum of six months before they can apply for any legal proceedings for proper documentation — but it also perpetuates harmful myths about “predatory” trans women, which, in turn, perpetuates actual violence against trans women.
But it appears Rowling is dead set on proving this is a thing that really happens, as her latest novel, ‘Troubled Blood’, features a cross-dressing serial killer who preys on women in a similar fashion.
‘Troubled Blood’, released under Rowling’s pseudonym “Robert Galbraith”, is the fifth novel in the Cormoran Strike series. It has Strike and his partner, Robin Ellacott, re-open and investigate the case of a female doctor who disappeared in 1974. One of the main suspects, Dennis Creed, was a serial killer who wears women’s clothes to lure in his victims throughout the 60s and 70s.
Though Rowling reportedly never describes Creed as a trans woman, the timing of her transphobic comments and the content therein is more than a little suspect. This is only further compounded by her explanation of Creed’s origins on Galbraith’s website. She writes that Creed was based on a mixture of real life serial killers Jerry Brudos and Russel Williams, who both had a fixation with women’s clothing and sexually assaulted their victims. Again, while not directly saying that Creed is transgender, Rowling is purposefully drawing a parallel between Brudos, Williams and the “men in dresses” myth, which helps further bolster transphobes protests on trans people recieving basic human rights in real life, whether or not she directly means to.
It should also be noted that Rowling heavily leans her own “feminism” while defending her stances on the issues presented in ‘Her Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues’ and ‘Troubled Blood’. Like many other trans-exclusionary radical feminists (TERFs), Rowling cites her concern for “womens and girls’ safety” in her beliefs on biological sex. Galbraith’s website also claims a similar concern for femininity in ‘Troubled Blood’, as it claims one of the book’s major themes is the “changing face of feminism and ideals and stereotypes of femininity”. This all reads to me, at least, as someone hiding her transphobia behind “feminist ideals”.
It is both surprising and unsurprising that Rowling’s TERF rhetoric has made its way, in one form or another, into her creative writing. In all honesty, further expanding upon why this is harmful is a bit meaningless, as Rowling has made it clear that she will not change her mind on this issue.
“[As] 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,” said Rowling.
My advice is the same as many others on how to handle Rowling: stop supporting her. Stop giving her money and stop buying her books. Instead, use your time to support trans, nonbinary and intersex creators, and firmly stand against the transphobic garbage people like Rowling try to spew.
British comedian Siobhan Thompson probably summarized this feeling best in a Tweet on Sep. 14: “I’ll stop tweeting about wanting JK Rowling to shut up when she stops wanting my Trans friends and family to die.”