J.K. Rowling believes Harry Potter fans angry over her anti-trans views have misunderstood the bestselling book series.
On the latest episode of the podcast “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling”, the author revealed that she knew before speaking on trans issues, that her views would upset many people.
Rowling first entered the conversation on trans issues when she expressed support for Maya Forstater, a tax expert who lost a work contract due to tweets describing trans women as men, eventually taking the employer to court on grounds of discrimination against her beliefs.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security,” Rowling had tweeted at the time. “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
Reflecting on that time on the podcast, Rowling said, “When I first became interested and then deeply troubled by what I saw as a cultural movement that was liberal in its methods and was very questionable in its ideas, I absolutely knew that if I spoke out, many folks would be deeply unhappy with me.”
She added, “I knew that because I knew… that they believe they were living the values that I had espoused in those books. I could tell that they believed they were fighting for underdogs and difference and fairness. And I thought it would be easier not to, you know, that this could be really bad. And honestly, it has been bad personally, it has not been fun.
Rowling also claimed that the backlash she has received over her views has led to real fears about her safety.
“I have been scared at times for my own safety, and overwhelmingly for my family’s safety,” she said.
Still, Rowling said she remains steadfast in her beliefs about the threat of the trans rights movement to cisgender women.
“Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong. I can only say that I’ve thought about it deeply and hard and long. And I’ve listened, I promise, to the other side,” she said. “And I believe, absolutely, that there is something dangerous about this movement, and it must be challenged.”
The author also responded to those who have said her current antagonism toward trans people is a betrayal of the spirit of the Harry Potter novels.
“I’m constantly told that I have betrayed my own books, but my position is that I’m absolutely upholding the positions that I took in Potter,” Rowling said. “My position is that this activist movement in the form that it’s currently taking, echoes the very thing that I was warning against in Harry Potter.”
She went on to compare trans activists to the Death Eaters from her novels — a group of fascist witches and wizards who had operated underground after being defeated during WWII, only to rise to power again with the return of Voldemort in the later books.
“I would say that some of you have not understood the books. The Death Eaters claimed, ‘We have been made to live in secret, and now is our time, and any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die.’ They demonized and dehumanized those who were not like them,” she explained.
“I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement, that has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society,” Rowling contended.
“I do not see this particular movement as either benign or powerless, so I’m afraid I stand with the women who are fighting to be heard against threats of loss of livelihood and threats to their safety,” she added.