J. K. Rowling again demonized on bogus grounds

September 17, 2020 • 9:00 am

There is no middle ground on J. K. Rowling; you consider her either an unrepentant transphobe or a feminist who, while accepting transgendered women’s self-identification in most respects, doesn’t think that they should always be treated the same as biological women. I hold the latter point of view, as I’ve read her explanation for the statements that got her “canceled” and find it convincing. For the Woke, though, no explanation is good enough, and Rowling will always be considered beyond the pale. There are even TikTok videos circulating of people burning her books! If anybody is being fully canceled, it’s Rowling, but her cancellation isn’t very thorough because too many people like her writing. (I’ve read only one Harry Potter novel, and thought it was just okay—but didn’t develop a taste for more.)

Rowling has a new detective novel, Troubled Blood, that people are criticizing as transphobic without having read it. (It came out Tuesday.) It’s in her Cormoran Strike series (the name of the private dick), and she writes under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith (at this point I don’t know why).

The novel is “problematic” for the Excessive Left because it features a serial killer who occasionally dons women’s clothing to disguise himself. This is apparently not a major element in the story, but has been picked up by the Outrage Brigade as another instance of transphobia. But of course transvestites—those who dress in clothing of the opposite sex—are not transsexuals. This is conflated in many of the nasty reviews, like this predictable one in HuffPost (click on the screenshot). The statements of the reviewer, and of the predictably outraged on Twitter, show clearly that they haven’t read the book; for one thing, it’s wasn’t even out before the hating started. Nick Cohen did read the book, and has a different view (see below).


HuffPo goes after the book as transphobic, dishonestly quoting a Times of London review with the HuffPost author apparently not having read the book either. She takes everything from the Times piece, but takes it out of context.


J.K. Rowling is apparently dissatisfied with merely sharing her transphobic views on Twitter and in 3,600-word essays.

According to an early review in The Telegraph, “Troubled Blood,” the fifth installment in her Cormoran Strike series written under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is about a cold case from 1974 that involves “a transvestite serial killer.”

“One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress,” the reviewer wrote of the book that comes out Tuesday.

“Reviewer” Elyse Wanshel then quotes a bunch of tweets, some accusing the book of making fun of transsexuals, like this one, which apparently didn’t read the Pink News quote that the book is about a cis man:



You can see the same kind of demonization in this Vanity Fair article, which again uses the Times phrase to damn the whole book:

An excerpt:

According to an early review in The Telegraph, Troubled Blood—the fifth installment in Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series written under the pen name Robert Galbraith—deals with the cold case of a woman who disappeared in 1974 and is believed to be the victim of Dennis Creed, “a transvestite serial killer.” (Transvestite is considered an outdated and derogatory term for cross-dressing, which is not the same as being trans.) The review goes on to say, “One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.”

How lazy can a reporter be?

Ah, such vehement virtue signaling. The thing is, there are no transsexuals in the book, nor a killer who wears a dress. You can see this from reading Nick Cohen’s piece in The Spectator (click on screenshot):

First, his summary:

The ‘evidence’ that provoked the malice [against Rowling] was so flimsy, even Twitter should have been embarrassed to publish it. Pink News, which dominates the LGBTQ+ outrage market, gave the case for the prosecution. According to the first review, ‘JK Rowling’s latest book is about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims’, it announced.

It is about nothing of the sort, I thought. And I could say that with authority because I had just finished a review copy of Troubled Blood, the fifth novel in Rowling’s Cormoran Strike series, as research for a long piece on her politics and art I’m working on for the Critic. No honest person who takes the trouble to read it can see the novel as transphobic. But then honest people are hard to find in a culture war.

About the Times quote that forms HuffPost’s sole basis for damning the book, Cohen says this:

One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress’.

That slippery ‘seems’ should have put readers on their guard. The moral of the book is not ‘never trust a man in a dress’. Transvestism barely features. When it does, nothing is made of the fact that the killer wears a wig and a woman’s coat (not a dress) as a disguise when approaching one of his victims. Maybe this tiny detail is enough for the wilfully ignorant to damn Rowling as a ‘witch’ – I’m not making it up, for this is how Everton goalkeeper turned Twitter celebrity Neville Southall described her. But no one else should be satisfied.

Cohen’s assessment of the book’s merits is mixed, saying that it’s “Dickensian in its scope and gallery of characters” but also that Rowling’s theme of opposition to Scottish nationalism is “clumsy.”  But he adds that claims that the novel is transphobic are nonsense.

Cohen reveals, without giving away too much of the plot, that:

1.) The killer is, as seen above, not a transsexual but a transvestite cis man. Transphobia has nothing to do with transvestites. Further, the transvestite wears a woman’s wig and coat (not a dress!) to disguise himself as a killer.

2.) The transvestite serial killer is only one of several suspects, and is apparently apprehended when he tries to abduct a woman without wearing his wig and woman’s coat.

3.) The wig and coat are worn when the killer approaches only one of his victims, and nothing is made of it save that it’s a disguise.

4.) The totality of the damnation hurled on the book comes from this passage, described by Cohen:

You have to search hard to find a justification for the belief that the book’s moral ‘seems’ to be ‘never trust a man in a dress’. But then relentless searches for the tiniest evidence of guilt are the marks of heresy hunters

It amounts to this. On page 75, Strike is listening to the son of an investigating officer tell him what he knows about Creed.

He had his failures you know. Penny Hiskett, she got away from him and gave the police a description in ’71, but that didn’t help them much. She said he was dark and stocky, because he was wearing a wig at the time and all padded out in a woman’s coat. They caught him in the end because of Melody Bower. Nightclub singer, looked like Diana Ross. Creed got chatting to her at the bus stop, offered her a lift, then tried to drag her into the van when she said no. She escaped, gave the police a proper description and told them he’d said his house was of Paradise Park.

Creed mentions the advantage of lipstick and a wig in making women think he’s ‘a harmless old queer’ when Strike interviews him, and that’s about that. A novelist uses a passing detail to explain how a murderer got close to one of his victims – for presumably the victim who gave the police a ‘proper description’ did not see him in a woman’s coat and wig. A critic, unintentionally or not, whips up a rage, and thousands allow themselves to be whipped. Pavlov’s dogs showed more critical independence.

Cohen adds, “when you reach the last pages the full absurdity of the statement that Rowling’s ‘moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress’ will be revealed.” But he won’t give away the ending; this is, after all, a crime novel. He then argues that Rowling’s writing is becoming not more transphobic, but more feminist, portraying how men repeatedly condescend to and mistreat Robin Ellacott, Strike’s female partner.  Rowling, of course, experienced this kind of sexism when trying to get started as a writer. As Cohen concludes, “In this sense, if nothing else, Rowling’s latest work honestly mirrors her online life. She knows, as her characters know, that women who speak out of turn find themselves alone in a free-fire zone.”

This still leaves the question about why people are going so hard after Rowling, even in a case where she’s not transphobic by any stretch of the imagination. Well, we know the answer. Arguing that transsexual women aren’t 100% identical to biological women, and in some cases (like sports) should not be treated like them, is seen as a grave sin in the religion of Wokism, punishable by placement in the lowest circle of Hell. And everything you write after that will be damned, even if it has nothing to do with transsexuals.

Over at Spiked, Brendan O’Neill goes a bit deeper when attacking those who demonize Rowling and burn her books:

The blinkered philistinism of the anti-Rowling mob is confirmed in the fact that none of them has read her new Strike novel. It isn’t even published yet. But when did censorious mobs ever stop to read or observe or properly think about the book or painting or movie that they want to boycott or burn? Mobs are not known for reasoned engagement. Nor do they have any respect for the right of writers and artists to depict whatever they want. So just as National Socialists sought to erase degenerate art, and Mary Whitehouse types wanted to ban rude plays, so the anti-Rowling mob fantasises about setting fire to a novel they haven’t read because it’s by a woman they irrationally loathe.

Why is the hatred for Rowling so heated, so unstable? It strikes me that there are two reasons. First, the very uncancellable nature of Rowling infuriates these mobs who are so used to extracting mea culpas from every public figure they set upon. Rowling is too big, too established, too global to be easily slain by the PC speechpolice. Her refusal to abandon her beliefs and opinions on sex and gender drives these self-styled moral guardians insane because it reminds them of the limitations to their censorious power. Rowling’s resoluteness is a beacon to everyone else, too, reminding people that even in this darkly censorious era you can cling to your principles. And that is intolerable to PC mobs who want nothing less than unflinching, society-wide conformity to their political and moral dogmas.

And secondly, Rowling’s rejection of the idea that people can self-identify as whatever sex they like represents a challenge to the entire church of identitarianism. . ..

The second paragraph, I think, is right on the mark.


J. K. Rowling (from Biography). Photo by Mike Marsland/Wireimage

86 thoughts on “J. K. Rowling again demonized on bogus grounds

  1. I picked up a copy of ‘Troubled Blood’ yesterday. It’s a 900 page monster read. Too long for me and I’ll wager too long for the woke brigade.

  2. Isn’t ‘transvestite killer’ practically a trope in crime fiction? I saw an old episode of “Dragnet” just the other week that featured one. I seem to recall others. If the Outrage Brigade are loosing their sh*t over Rowling, though, just wait until they catch “Silence of the Lambs” on cable. Fortunately for the world of letters, the OB doesn’t seem to have much interest in stuff that doesn’t celebrate their diversity. Norman Bates is safe for now.

    1. There’s no transvestites in the book. Just a man who sometimes adopts a disguise to make women feel safe.

      1. Oh – and that man [SPOLER} isn’t the killer. The killer is a woman who sometimes adopts female disguise for much the same reason.

  3. In Vancouver, B.C. , someone put up a billboard stating simply “I love JK Rowling”. It was quickly vandalized, and then taken down as offensive or hate speech or some other such ridiculousness.


      1. What bout Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex * But Were Afraid to Ask.
        That has to put the PC crowd over the edge.

    1. Alfred Hitchcock made three movies about murderous homosexuals: Rope, Strangers on a Train, and North by Northwest- gayness somewhat indirectly implied in all three (originally Brit cut of SoaT more over than American version).
      Moving from there to a heterosexual transvestite killer in Psycho is a step up in wokeness. Rope of course was inspired by the true story of Leopold and Loeb.

      1. Hitchcock’s movies coming from a time period (and an author who grew up with) the notion that being gay or trans was a form of psychopathy, the trope at least makes some sense. Lots of Hollywood themes are simplified, carnival mirror reflections of the -isms of the times in which they were made; Hitchcock’s sometimes too.

        Individually, there may be nothing wrong with such a character, but taken as a whole, I can certainly empathize with a gay or trans person thinking ‘not another cross-dressing psychopath story’, the same way a minority person might get annoyed at yet another ‘white savior’ movie or ‘magical negro’ trope appearing on the screen. These ideas are not just vaguely bigoted, they’re tired. We need more books and movies using such ideas about as much as we need another Star Wars movie featuring a Death Star.

        But, having said that, it doesn’t appear Rowling can even be accused of reusing a tired old Hollywood trope here; having a character don a disguise, once, to get close to a victim just isn’t a credible example of the ‘cross-dressing psychopath’ plot device.

        1. Re: “Lots of Hollywood themes are simplified, carnival mirror reflections…”

          Ironically, there is a murder in “Strangers on a Train” at a carnival, reflected in a distorted way in the victim’s glasses, meant to look just like a “carnival mirror”.

  4. I think the far Left suffers from the fact that they feel the need to couch their tribalism in terms that make sense, which only highlights the fact that it makes no sense and makes it incredibly irritating. When the Right wanted to cancel JK Rowling, they just claimed that books about witches are anti-Christian and I think people were, for the most part, like “Oh, yeah, well, that’s just the kind of stuff people on the Right say. I think it’s weird, but whatever.” When the Left wants to do it, they try to tell people that if a character who is a villain ever wears clothing from another gender it is traumatic and hateful to trans people. While it’s the same general idea, it creates more ill will, because people can look at their own experience and see that this is ridiculous (I don’t, for example, insist that the entire genre of movies about Psycho B** Women is traumatic to me as a female. Gone Girl, Fatal Attraction, Single White Female, etc. And I certainly don’t insist that one can never ever have a female villain at all, or else it’s misogynistic.)

    I muse about this sometimes – I think the Right just has an advantage in authoritarianism (the Left does for the moment, but I think they are creating a lot of ill will and it won’t last too long.) It has evolved in more conservative cultures in a way that makes it more psychologically palatable to many people.

  5. Cults come in all shapes and sizes. They are all covered in ignorance and all damaging to different degrees. Welcome to woke, the cult.

  6. The novel is “problematic” for the Excessive Left because it features a serial killer who occasionally dons women’s clothing to disguise himself.

    Lucky for Mr. De Palma these folks weren’t around when Dressed to Kill was released in 1980. And let’s not get started on “Buffalo Bill” from Silence of the Lambs, novel or film.

    1. Yes, I’ve been wondering when they’ll come for Dressed to Kill in particular. It’s my favorite De Palma movie and possibly my favorite thriller of all time.

      I bought a copy of Gone with the Wind on Blu-Ray the other day, as I didn’t yet have it in my collection and wanted to make sure I got it before it’s memory-holed. That might sound a bit crazy, but (1) Hulu removed a Golden Girls episode from its service for supposed “blackface”, and (2) Hulu and Netflix removed an episode of community because a character wears blackface while playing D&D. So, I wonder if it’s only a matter of time before “problematic” material stops being produced.

      My copy of the movie actually came with a sticker applied to the box that reads something to the effect of “for important historical and social context, please visit [website].” And that Golden Girls episode? It had one scene with one line. Two of them are wearing mud masks and one says to a character that walks in, ““This is mud on our faces. We’re not really Black.” That’s all.

      1. I heard a while back that they might be coming for The Band’s tune “The Night They Drove Old Dixie Down.”

        Forget about the song’s content for a second, do these people understand that Robbie wrote the tune in the voice of a narrator? As such the song no more necessarily espouses the views of the writer than do Randy Newman songs in which the narrator mocks short people or wants to drop the big one on the rest of the world (except Australia, because kangaroos and surfing) or recruits slaves to come from Africa to America.

        And don’t get me started about the reprobates who’ve narrated some of Steely Dan’s songs. 🙂

        1. Ha, as soon as I read your second sentence, I thought, “boy, they sure won’t like Steely Dan’s songs.” Not to mention all the “cultural appropriation” in their songs. The Dan used everything from jazz to Latin influences and everything in between.

              1. It could be a very prescient song about election fixing given “Daddy Gee”s role in Watergate and this November’s mail-in voters about to say “I can’t seem to get to you / Through the U.S. Mail”.

            1. Hey Nineteen is going to be stricken from the books! Objectification and all that jazz.

              And Everyone’s Gone to the Movies? Hoooo boy.

              We’ll have to start playing their music in secret. Turn up the Eagles! The neighbors are listening!

  7. It doesn’t actually matter whether or not the book is “transphobic.” Rowling has already been labelled an unperson, so all of her future work must be labelled transphobic no matter what, just to remind all the good “allies” out there not to buy it. Everything she ever does from now until her death will be labelled “transphobic,” no matter how far journalists and activists have to stretch and twist themselves into knots to do it. And, I’m sure, her previous work is being scrutinized for anything and everything that can be twisted into being “transphobic,” just to ensure that good progressives, journalists, and publishers know that her entire oeuvre has retroactively been labelled as such, and that she deserves to be criticized, harassed, and libeled at every possible opportunity. It’s over. She’s been eaten by the mob. There’s no coming back.

    I hope the book sells extremely well, if only to show that these absurd allegations are being made by a tiny minority that doesn’t represent anything close to widespread public opinion.

    1. I think the book is guaranteed to do pretty well now. Everybody who isn’t of the woke left is going to want to read it to find out what the fuss is all about. I wasn’t planning to read any of these novels (the name of the protagonist reminds me too much of Derek Storm and Nikki Heat, for one thing) but now I am seriously considering it.

    2. The more this sort of thing happens, the easier it is to feel the world really is going mad. Almost everyone aged 15 to 35 appears to be on the bus to Wokeville. But it’s easy to pick up a lopsided impression when you only hear what the crazy people are staying, the sensible youngsters go unreported. I’m heartened by my daughters (15 & 16), my nephews (15 & 18), and their friends. They are much freer of prejudice and bias than kids even a couple of generations ago – which is obviously great. They also realise that extreme wokeneness is lunacy and often ridicule woke fundamentalists and their crazy ideas. Cultural appropriation is one idea they see as especially bonkers and authoritarian (thank god). In my experience most kids and younger adults (here in the UK at least) are similarly sensible. All is not lost.

  8. In real life, serial rapist Peter Samuel Cook, the so-called “Cambridge Rapist”, was arrested in June 1975 wearing a long blonde wig and in possession of women’s clothing and lipstick. I don’t think there was an element of transvestitism (some witnesses said they thought he was wearing a wig and false beard when he attacked them), but Rowling’s fictional character is certainly not a million miles away from this historical example. Full disclosure, I created the (not very good) Wikipedia article about Cook, which is how I’m familiar with the case: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Samuel_Cook

  9. I made sure to buy a copy of the new book, purely based on this outrage response. I haven’t read any of the Robert Galbraith pseudonym books, but I’m a big fan of the Harry Potter novels. [Just to let PCC(E) know, if you only read the first, the writing gets exponentially better until, by the 3rd, they are all exceptionally done. But, of course, you still have to like the genre, or that won’t matter very much.]

    1. Prisoner of Azkaban is the best one IMO. One of the later ones – I think it was Half Blood Prince – was absolutely dire. One the things to remember about the HP novels is that they are not written for adults. I think it’s fairly clear from the novels’ success that JK Rowling is a masterful writer for teenagers.

      1. I liked all of them (as a cis-white-male-middle-class-engineer type in my 50s).

        My only beef was the 100 wasted first pages of the 4th HP novel that dealt with that boring Quidditch tournament.

        She got right back on the rails after that one.

    2. Half Blood Prince was fun because it focused on the development of an adult-aged antihero character. It was a relief not to read so much about the teen angst of HP himself.

  10. Dear Jerry,

    Respectfully, I do not think that your characterization of the Rowling affair is very fair. You mentioned some of the more reasonable content of her essay while leaving out some of the more objectionable content.

    Rowling is perfectly correct in saying that genitals and hormones exist and affect the daily lives of their owners. The overwhelming majority of the trans community agrees with this. That’s the whole point: people experience problems precisely because genitals and hormones influence our lives. It’s also perfectly fine if Rowling expresses fear and explains that this fear comes from bad personal experiences she’s had with men. It’s good to be very explicit about what things drive this conversation.

    But in her essay, Rowling misrepresents the trans community. And there are specific patterns in her misrepresentation: she promotes low-quality information of a certain kind while leaving out high-quality information of another kind.

    She promotes low-quality information that makes the trans community look dangerous to women in bathrooms, while ignoring the high-quality information that shows the threat is limited. She also refuses to acknowledge bigger the threat that the cis community poses to the trans community. I understand why people accuse her of being dishonest, selfish and callous.

    She promotes low-quality information that makes the trans community look like a dangerous experiment, while ignoring the high-quality information that shows this threat is limited. She also refuses to acknowledge the serious threat of *not* taking transitions seriously. I understand why people accuse her of cherry picking.

    Finally, she did not make up these arguments in her essay. These arguments appear in certain circles that are explicitly transphobic. Think of these arguments as memes … “if there is evolution, why are there chimps?”. Whenever you hear that silly question, you *know* the person has picked it up from a certain kind of website with a certain kind of agenda.

    Thank you for your time

    1. I didn’t agree with everything Rowling said in her “explanatory” essay, but a lot of what she said made sense, and I see no explicit transphobia here. She certainly calls out things that the trans community would rather ignore, like detransitioning, the rush to do gender reassignment through hormones and surgery, and, above all, the conflation of sex and gender, which is “high quality information” (you seem to judge “quality” by whether it comports with your ideology). If she’s guilty of cherry picking, many in the trans community are even more guilty, though you don’t mention that. The bathroom issue is not important to me, but whether a man should be in a women’s changing room if he is still a biological man with all the equipment, well, that is a valid complaint, and I don’t see how you can dismiss that very real fear. No, I don’t think she makes the trans community look dangerous at all; she’s concerned that the conflation of sex with gender, the idea that a male who calls himself a woman should be treated exactly like a woman, and so on, should be taken as serious objects to discussion.

      I don’t think your characterization of Rowling’s position is very fair, for you don’t even mention the reasonable things she says or the unreasonable things that are part of many trans people’s views.

      Finally, you seem to be missing the whole point of this post: people demonize Rowling for things she didn’t say. Her novel is not transphobic, but people are eager to say it is. Now THAT is low-quality behavior.

      1. I highly recommend Galileo’s Middle Finger by Alice Dreger. It’s about how trans activism has affected science. I had a difficult time finding it originally as someone kept hiding the bookstore’s copies.

    2. @Sorry sure I see what you mean. The problem with your argument is that it puts all the obligation on Rowling to articulate a fully developed position with all the counterarguments included. By contrast, trans activists get a free pass to smear Rowling with assumptions and innuendo. I might also find parts of Rowling’s argument weaker than others, but that doesn’t make her transphobic or a hater. She’s just a thoughtful person trying to articulate her views of a complicated issue. Her views are not of the “why are there chimps” variety. There really are women who don’t want biological males included in some women’s spaces. There really are trans women who have assaulted other women in women’s spaces. How strongly one wants to emphasize those as problems for including trans women in women’s spaces will vary, and needs to be discussed out in the open. Like we’re all doing here. Trans activists insisting that trans women are women full stop gets in the way of that conversation, Rowling pointed that out in her “wumben” tweet, admittedly using sarcasm in a way that was easily mistaken for ridicule, and well now here we are. It’s ridiculous, and it’s also totally consistent with the male-ness of MTF trans activists mansplaining their orthodoxy to Rowling and telling her to shut up. One suspects that this is the aspect that has really got Rowling’s back up, and is causing her to lean into this whole mess even more fiercely than she might have otherwise. But who knows.

      1. A member of a lesbian woman-born-woman discussion space, has told me over the years about security measures adopted to keep their membership private and safe. As from the start, they’d been targeted by MTF trans activists groups who demanded they be allowed to join, because “they were all women.”

    3. Have you seen the tweets on the RIP JKRowling hashtag? If the trans woman community wants to allay the fears of the cis woman community with respect to sharing bathrooms etc, they’re really not going about it in a very intelligent way.

    4. She promotes low-quality information that makes the trans community look dangerous to women in bathrooms

      I agree with you she seems overly concerned about this. I expect it’s due to her abuse story.

      She also refuses to acknowledge bigger the threat that the cis community poses to the trans community.

      I disagree with you. I didn’t see this at all in her essay. In fact she repeats a couple times that teen gay and trans people are the group at highest risk of abuse and violence.

      She promotes low-quality information that makes the trans community look like a dangerous experiment, while ignoring the high-quality information that shows this threat is limited.

      I disagree with your characterization of her opinion on this. She does think gender dysphoria can arise due to social factors (she specifically cites sexism impacting young women), which I think the trans community generally rejects and may find offensive. However, she states that position in about as staid a way as a person can. Her stated opinion, IMO, doesn’t imply that being trans is a “dangerous experiment” or a “threat.”

    5. What grates about the bathroom argument is that it is so clearly contradictory. If one states that there is a need for trans women to be in a female bathroom, then they have already very clearly agreed with the idea that women need to use separate bathrooms. Otherwise, it makes no difference which bathroom a trans woman uses – men’s, women’s, whatever. So obviously, if one thinks it’s important for trans women to have their own space where they can be separated from men, they already have a reason for why that is, and should be able to see how a cis man dressed as a woman would be an issue within their own framework.

      I’m actually not particularly concerned about the bathroom debate… a predator who wanted to hide in a bathroom stall wouldn’t likely be deterred by a sign that said “Women” if they were a man. Parents worried about sending their children into a bathroom alone will similarly have to worry no matter what, so alternatives like family bathrooms are just better all around there. It’s just the logical inconsistency that bothers me.

      1. A lot of our social engineering is about stopping ‘crimes of opportunity’ rather than ‘die hard criminals.’ It’s IMO a reasonable hypothesis to anticipate that if men (sex, not gender) are mingling with women (sex, not gender) in private, vulnerable places where their activities can’t be socially moderated, the rate of opportunistic harassment and assault may go up. However, the right way to approach that hypothesis is to look at what the data says when MTFs are allowed to use the women’s rooms. My understanding on that is pretty thin, but AFAIK, empirically, the rate of harassment and assault doesn’t go up. So the hypothesis is provisionally assessed to be wrong (which is different from saying it was biased or bigoted or unreasonable; lots of reasonable ideas turn out to be wrong).

        It now seems that the correct hypothesis might be something more like: when men (gender, not sex) are mingling with women (gender, not sex) in private etc., the rate of opportunistic harassment and assault may go up.

    6. What evidence do you have to support a claim that the CIS ‘community’ presents a bigger threat?
      And then, what evidence do you have that JK is ignoring it?

      As for low and high quality information, I think if there is one area replete with low quality information, it is the activism community.

      For example one of the first goto’s when someone was criticizing JK was to mention the terrible statistic that there were 129 murders of trans people in Brazil. Why pick Brazil?
      Those numbers sort of sound bad until you check the actual number of murders in Brazil which is up around 64 ‘thousand’.

      That’s why Brazil, because out of context, a common straight amoung activists, cherry picked numbers sound high, but in context they are actually really low.

    7. Dear Jerry,

      I think we are talking past each other.

      My original post addressed only your opening paragraph. I believed you were lamenting the lack of nuance in this conversation (about Rowling’s essays on trans issues). So I tried to give you the nuance that I believed you were looking for.

      This is how I see things. The conversation is big, with two extremes. On the one extreme end, there are people who behave aggressively and are willing to make all kinds of moral compromises to achieve their goals (intimidation and dishonestly, for example). On the other extreme end, there are people who refuse to hear that there is anything objectionable in Rowling’s essays. These two groups of people are generally the loudest bunch in the conversation. And each group unintentionally pushes the other group towards an even more extreme position.

      My claim was very simple: decent people can hold a much more nuanced position in this debate. Some of the things Rowling said are reasonable and even important, while other statements are objectionable.

      There’s no need for me to repeat what I have said before, but let me just illustrate both parts of my claim with an example:

      I actually agree that transitions need to be taken seriously: don’t do harm by performing unnecessary transitions and don’t do harm by denying necessary transitions. Inflating the harm done by one of these, while not mentioning the harm done by the other would be irresponsible (or callous, depending on the circumstances). The community is so sensitive to this misrepresentation because it is so terribly common.

      I had also pointed out (preemptively) that fear should be taken seriously: fear can dominate one’s life (no matter whether that fear is based on a reasonable risk assessment or not). But fear also shapes public conversations and public policy. In this case, it is critical we make a more objective risk assessment of the situation. And inflating the harm to women in the bathrooms while failing to mention the greater harm done to trans women in bathrooms would therefore be irresponsible (or callous, depending on the circumstances). The community is so sensitive to this kind of argument because it is so very common in the bathroom debate.

      I could go on, but I believe I have made my point. If I am wrong about this, please let me know. I’ll try to clarify my position further.

      Dear Mike,

      Thanks for the thoughtful reply. Let me address just one minor point of disagreement.

      You write “She’s just a thoughtful person trying to articulate her views of a complicated issue.” I think that you are a little too generous with your assumptions here. I don’t believe that she is evil at all. But she’s been expressing certain views for a long time now and she’s been getting a LOT of feedback from the community (including the extremists). After a couple of years of feedback, you just have to assume that Rowling isn’t terribly interested in getting a more nuanced view of the situation. She just keeps digging in. Fear (and possibly a lack of empathy with certain groups of people) is a powerful force.

      Dear eric and Michael Waterhouse,

      In your post, you suggested that she does express concern about the harm done to the community. “In fact she repeats a couple times that teen gay and trans people are the group at highest risk of abuse and violence.” I agree, in general!

      and “What evidence do you have to support a claim that the CIS ‘community’ presents a bigger threat?
      And then, what evidence do you have that JK is ignoring it?”

      So, to clarify: I was specifically talking about the harm done when trans women are forced to use certain bathrooms. For example: physical harassment and assault.

      Thank you all for contributing.

      1. Once again, you are holding Rowling to a higher standard than you hold her attackers. In fact, her attackers are the ones who don’t see nuance; they simply step up their attacks, especially about this latest novel. She is the reasonable voice in this debate: HuffPost and Vanity Fair are not. Yet you repeatedly defend those who attack her, and they are not the extremes but the norm among critics. She may not be right about everything, but her critics are wrong about nearly everything. Yet you are defending the latter–the people who see no nuance. As I said in my post, I don’t agree with everything Rowling said, which you apparently didn’t see.

        You’ve made your point and I’ve let your comment stand although they are longer than ones I usually accept.

        1. I agree with JAC.

          [Sorry] The conversation is big, with two extremes.

          Look at how you’ve characterized the debate! Elsewhere you say more nuance is needed, and you point out areas where you agree with Rowling. Isn’t that nuance? Why do you put her in the “extremist” bucket when you fully admit she says a mix of things (i.e. things the community agrees with or should pay attention to, others it doesn’t or shouldn’t)? And as for her defenders “refuse[ing] to hear that there is anything objectionable”, this is simply not the case here. Jerry acknowledged he didn’t agree with everything. So did I. So, I believe, did several others. We even have different points of disagreement amongst ourselves. So your moderate liberal opponents in this debate are actually behaving the way you claim you want them to behave (i.e. using a critical eye on her opinion), you just don’t seem to acknowledge that.


          I see a lot of the bad “if you knew what I knew, you’d agree with me” assumption in this debate. Any disagreement is attributed to ignorance or malice, because it becomes unfathomable to the ideologue how someone else could combine the same data + honest analysis to reach a conclusion different from theirs. You often see this in left vs right issues, but here IMO we’re seeing it in a far left vs. moderate left issue. The far left concluding that moderate lefties like Rowling must be anti-trans or ignorant of trans issues seems to me to be an example of this. She seems to me reasonably well informed. She seems to me not malicious. Yet she dose disagree with you. That may be counter-intuitive in the “how could she know what I know yet reach a different conclusion? It doesn’t seem possilble, unless there’s malice involved” sense, but that happens all the time. Our intuition is wrong; not only is ‘informed, non-malicious disagreement’ possible, it happens all the time.

      2. The restroom issue is a red herring.

        If transwomen should be able to use the women’s restroom because they are women, then whether they’re in danger using the men’s room is irrelevant.

        If transwomen should be able to use the women’s restroom because they are men who are in danger when using the men’s restroom because of other men, then the discussion changes. There are more options. And, just as important, the issue is now limited to restrooms.

  11. Maybe I am not interpreting it right, but I don’t agree with some of J.K. Rowlings’ statements in her explanation. I can see why there would be objections to them.
    She gives a list.
    #1. She provides financial support for vulnerable groups of women (those who’ve had domestic abuse, and women prisoners). Also MS research in women, where the disease has extra complications for women. She worries that efforts to redefine biological sex could undermine the narrow targeting of these funds. That can hardly be real, right?
    #2. Safeguarding childrens’ education, which will be effected by expanding trans rights. I don’t understand this one. Perhaps it has to do with allowing trans girls to use the girls’ bathroom?
    #4 I think I do agree with, although I wish I understood it better. Its about “Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria”. This should be discussed.
    #5 is about providing safe spaces for women where they might be uncomfortable having a trans women enter (changing rooms, women’s shelters). This would especially apply to vulnerable and abused women. But has that ever been a problem for real? Here I can see how that really pushes trans rights buttons since being able to enter those spaces is very important for trans women.

    1. #5 has very much been an issue. A case several years ago was precisely about hiring trans women as rape crisis counsellors, a role specified as being for a woman.

        1. Here are a couple more for you: “Transgende prisoner who sexually assaulted inmates jailed for life” https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2018/oct/11/transgender-prisoner-who-sexually-assaulted-inmates-jailed-for-life. A MTF was put in a women’s prison and sexually assaulted the other prisoners. This isn’t the first time that’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

          Problem is that many times MTF transsexuals, when incarcerated in men’s prisons, as is usually the case, are frequently sexually assaulted by the men.

          Oh, yes, then there’s the case of the MTF transsexual in Canada who sued because Brazilian waxing shops (run by women)refused to wax his balls. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/10/23/canadian-transgender-woman-loses-case-against-beauticians-refused/. Aye, there’s the rub.

          What’s one to do?

              1. I hadn’t realised that the i newspaper, which was originally owned by the reasonably respected Independent, is now owned by the same parent company as The Daily Mail – so perhaps that news report might need regarding with more scepticism than I initially applied when I posted the link here. Sorry about that!

          1. … Brazilian waxing shops (run by women)refused to wax his balls.

            I don’t suppose there’s any chance this incident involved a bowling alley, huh?

    2. Regarding number five:

      I don’t follow these things, but I remember a huge dust-up in the media a few years ago over a women’s music festival in Michigan that was extremely popular and had been going on for decades. The festival organizers said that they didn’t exclude trans women from attending, but discouraged them from attending because they wanted to keep it as a space where people who were “born women” (or whatever terminology they used) could be with similar people and discuss issues exclusive to them (e.g. menstruation, abortion, hysterectomy, etc. Basically issues only experienced by people with female anatomy, and which some women may feel uncomfortable discussing around men or trans women). They were successfully boycotted and shut down after several decades of operation, huge attendance and fame, and consistently attracting popular musicians and bands, with the media widely taking the side of the trans activists. The vitriol from the media and activists was so heated and continuous that many bands and supporting organizations pulled out.

      1. Since ending the festival, many involved have been trying to rebuild the concept, starting by acquiring their own private space.
        BJ did an excellent job of explaining the controversy.

  12. Now that the bar for being a transsexual has been lowered from the full Jan Morris down to simply identifying and feeling, those at the lower end of that spectrum (“lower” in terms of commitment, that is) are effectively indistinguishable from transvestites, and in earlier decades would have been called such. Knowing that, the Twitter trans lobby now regard all transvestism as part of their domain, and police it accordingly.

      1. As I understand it, the character who wears his landlady’s coat as a disguise is “a” murderer who is also a suspect in a further unsolved case, not necessarily “the” murderer the investigators are looking for.

  13. One aspect of all this that never fails to shock me are the vicious attacks the MTFs make on those who dare to check any aspect of their perceived female privilege. They see themselves as superior to cis women, and how dare any cis woman contradict them or try to limit their female privilege.

    If one clicked on the twitter page from Titania that PCC(E) posted a day or so ago, one would see that it was filled with the most crude and abominable comments by MTF transsexuals, telling her to go suck their female cocks, and fantasizing about the violence they would do to her. The most brutal expressions of vulgar misogynistic hate speech I’ve seen bar none. The people (I’m sure they’re only a minority of MTF transsexuals) who expressed such filth hate cis women and want to exterminate them violently (maybe they’re ex incels).

    1. Yes Jenny, that is an observation that struck me too. Vile aggressors that play the victim. No, I do not think either that all MTF’s are like that, but some definitely are.

    2. @Mark yes I see this both in online commentary and in personal interactions with MTF individuals. The misogynistic impulse to mansplain to females doesn’t seem to be moderated when a male comes out as a woman. My come-to-Jesus moment was listening as a MTF individual (someone who transitioned in middle age) explained menopause to my wife. Kinda blew my mind.

      But it also had some good effects. Seeing this in action up close really showed me my own mansplaining tendencies, and I try hard now to stop doing this. IDK if mansplaining is a habit that males develop through their socialization, or if it’s some kind of testosterone thing, or a combination of nurture plus nature (seems likely), but it is a real thing. And trans women do it.

    3. As a man, I wouldn’t take issue with the claim that aggressive a$$holishness correlates with being of the male sex, not the male gender. If that’s the case, then transitioning MTF or FTM isn’t likely to affect ones’ baseline chance of being an aggressive a$$hole (which, granted, is still going to be low. But the internet is a great amplifier of the extremes.)

  14. I have respect for individual choice as to gender. I have very little for those who militate that all humanity adheres to their particular gender preference in dress, appearance or physiological modification.

    I have read almost all of Rowling’s books and will continue to read as she writes them. I can understand her viewpoint. She has a right to have them and share them. I have a right to read if I want.

    Perhaps, we’ll have to go back through all literature, movies and TV shows to get rid of, or explain according to current received wisdom, as to how they must be interpreted now. I recently watched season 3 of Hill Street Blues in which a male attorney going through psychoanalysis for gender issues is depicted in female clothing. He’s tall, sturdily built, bald headed with a fringe of hair and intentionally very humorous.

    Raised as an evangelical Christian, I was not permitted to wear trousers with a zipper in the front because they considered to be men’s clothing. I could wear trousers with zippers anywhere else, or with no zippers. I don’t remember their being rules about ancient Greek, Roman or Jewish men wearing robes. Ditto with modern day Middle eastern men in robes. Nor Scottish kilts. Nor gowns worn by male professors or male graduating students.

    I don’t think human beings should have to signal gender by clothing. Gender is obvious to any who are interested enough to remove said clothing and the business of no one else.

  15. Woke doctrine comes closest to its Soviet predecessor in elevating trans-gender behavior to a biological “fact”, as sacred as Lysenko’s claim that he could create trans-species among cereal plants by temperature treatment. The sanctification of the trans-gendered seems quite odd, until one notices that it is only one feature of the general woke obsession with victimhood. The new fad in which individuals and organizations of all kinds flagellate themselves over the invented offense of “systemic racism”, falls into the same psychiatric category: the celebration of victimhood.

    We seem to be in the grip of something like the 13th/14th century craze of the Flagellants, vividly portrayed in one scene of Bergman’s great film “The Seventh Seal”. The Flagellants believed, like their descendants today, that miracles could be worked by self-mortification. This notion rather affronted Holy Mother Church, which claimed its own monopoly on miracles, and the Flagellant movement was eventually condemned by Popes Clement VI and Gregory XI.

    1. The Woke particularly remind me of the Red Brigades in Mao’s China.
      Of course, the Red Brigades were supported by the Great Helmsman (while the present crop of would be ‘left wing fascists’ have no such support from the top). They died out/disappeared within a decade or two.
      When will our ‘Western Wokism’ disappear? I guess that will have to wait for the next generation, those born after 2010, who will have nothing to do with all that nonsense.

  16. Rowling was first damned for the supposed satanism of her Harry Potter series; now it’s for her hurtful prose in the Cormoran Striker series.
    Thanks for bringing Troubled Blood to my attention. Having read the earlier books in the series, I’ve asked my local library to order a copy.

  17. Guess they’ll have to cancel zombie cicadas, too, since, because some males are parasitized by a psychedelic fungus akin to psilocybin that turns them into false female, sex-crazed, body snatching zombies. What a trip that must be! They mimic female behavior to lure uninfected males, then infect them and begin to replace their bodies with the fungus! All the zombie ants have is a mushroom sticking out of their heads. This is a true plague.


  18. I bought the first book in that series, The Cuckoo’s Calling, a long time ago when it was first revealed they were really written by JKR, but never got around to reading it. Now I’ve finally started reading it (it’s the Kindle edition, so I can’t actually burn it despite the name) and am a few chapters into it now… seems fairly intriguing. If I don’t lose interest, I’ll keep on through the series and eventually make it to the latest book.

  19. I admit I’m a fan of Rowling. I enjoyed the Potter books and I also have enjoyed the Galbraith books so far and am looking forward to the new one. I suspect all this ballyhoo will just assist the sales of same. I wonder if all the interest in trans persons will sort out the issues, perhaps sooner than ordinarily, because it presented on such a visible platform. (Poor sentence folks) just out there.

  20. I just bought her latest book, simply in solidarity.

    Her series of Cormoran Strike books get great reviews and I bought the first one (I’m in the middle of something else right now).

    I refused to read the Harry Potter books for a really long time (almost 20 years) because: 1) I don’t care for fantasy (except Tolkien’s LOTR) 2) I don’t read “kids books” generally speaking.

    Boy, was I wrong. Rowling can write wonderfully; and I loved the HP books.

    I haven’t read any of the Robert Galbraith books yet; but the first one is next on my list.

    (And I wonder: Galbraith? J K Rowling –> J K Galbraith –> Robert Galbraith? Maybe?)

    1. According to the UK Guardian: “JK Rowling chose her alter ego of Robert Galbraith by conflating the name of her political hero Robert F Kennedy and her childhood fantasy name “Ella Galbraith”, the Harry Potter writer has explained on her alternative persona’s official author website.

      On the other hand on Twitter are people who are certain that she chose it in honour of
      Robert Galbraith Heath who apparently in the 1950s experimented with gay conversion therapy. You can find him on wikipedia.

  21. J. K. Rowling

    I don’t really know which is best – to email you direct or to post this in the comments to your articles about the demonisation of Joanne Rowling. Still, the message is the same, so here goes.

    Rowling’s latest book, Troubled Blood, by Robert Galbraith, is massive – more than 900 pages – and is the fifth crime novel featuring an extremely likeable pair of protagonists, Cormoran Strike and Robin Ellacot. Each novel has several threads, including the relationship between the heroes, both of whom have been severely abused in their younger days. Much of the “message” is about the lifelong effects of traumatic events. [Beware: SPOILERS]

    I have now read the book once and listened to the audiobook twice. It is Dickensian in its intricacies but two things I can confirm: there is no transgender character, nor is there a transvestite (I do not know this month’s acceptable term for this). Nor is there any discussion of either topic.

    There is a same-sex female couple who are married, and a single gay man getting over a broken relationship.

    But there are also two serial killers, both of whom committed their crimes at least forty years ago. And both adopted female disguises in order to lure victims (almost always vulnerable females) into a false sense of security. There is no suggestion that these were ever anything other than disguises (wig, lipstick and a lady’s coat). This is partly emphasised by the fact that one of the serial killers is a woman already.

    The entire story is about the vulnerability of women who live outside the mainstream – particularly on the fringes of the sex-trade. It also touches on organised crime (1970s style) and the stigma of abortion. But most of all it deals with the notion that men control women – or want to – and get away with it for the most part. It also deals with what some men see as acceptable behaviour even now. It was (I imagine) inspired by the #MeToo movement – the timing would be right.

    True fascism…

    Phillip Brookes

    (British, former Prison Governor – Warden -but now retired with my wife to the Philippines)

Leave a Reply