J.K. Rowling Returns Kennedy Human Rights Award After RFK Daughter Calls Author “Transphobic”

Author J.K. Rowling has returned a 2019 Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization honor after the group’s president Kerry Kennedy condemned the Harry Potter writer’s tweets as “transphobic” and “deeply troubling.”

In a lengthy, 600-word-plus statement posted yesterday on her website, Rowling denies the charge of transphobia but restates her controversial stance criticizing the gender “affirmative model” and cites “a growing number” of “experts and whistleblowers” who are “concerned about the huge rise in the numbers of girls wanting to transition.”

Rowling was snarkier in a June tweet cited by Kennedy earlier this month on the RFK Human Rights website. The daughter of RFK wrote: 

Over the course of June 2020 — LGBTQ Pride Month — and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements. On June 6, she tweeted an article headlined “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.” She wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity: ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

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Kennedy continued:

From her own words, I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity—a position that I categorically reject. The science is clear and conclusive: Sex is not binary.

Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision.

Kennedy also cited Rowlings “like” of a tweet that opposed a bill to ban conversion therapy (both sexual orientation and gender identity) in Canada, and a Rowling tweet that stated, “When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman—and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones—then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”

Kennedy wrote that she had expressed to Rowling her “profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people…”

The honor in question is the organization’s Ripple of Hope Award, which celebrates leaders in business, entertainment and activism “who have demonstrated a commitment to social change and reflect Robert Kennedy’s passion for equality, justice, basic human rights, and his belief that each of us can make a difference.” Rowling received the award in December 2019. (2020 honorees are set to include Dr. Anthony Fauci and Colin Kaepernick, among others.)

In returning the award, Rowling also took issue with Kennedy’s reference to the disproportionate violence, discrimination, harassment, exclusion, suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm suffered by the transgender community, particularly Black trans women and trans youth.

Countered Rowling, “I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community.”

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