J. K. Rowling answers her critics

March 28, 2023 • 11:30 am

There’s no figure more inflammatory in popular culture than J. K. Rowling, once the world’s most beloved author but now demonized by many as a transphobe. Few people are in the middle: Rowling’s either dismissed out of hand by progressives and religious conservatives (some have even burned her books, while Christians see her as promoting witchcraft), while others see Rowling’s comments on transgenderism and the rights of biological women as sensible. (I count myself among the latter group.)

Bari Weiss’s site The Free Press has been podcasting a multipart series called “The Witch Trials of J. K. Rowling“. It’s not a hagiography, but about seven hours of interviews with Rowling, including interviews with her detractors, friends, and sundry experts and acquaintances.  There are seven parts, all created by Megan Phelps-Roper,  formerly a member of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church (she left it), who wrote to Rowling out of the blue (see here) and managed to get long interviews with her.

The podcasts are professionally produced and well put together, and if you have the time, it’s well worth hearing. So far I’ve listened to just the first part (mostly a long interview with Rowling), and the part below: the last bit, when Rowling is asked to answer the strongest accusations of her opponents. Sadly, it’s beyond my ability to listen to seven hours of podcasts!

Here’s Phelps-Roper’s summary from the first link above.

I’ve spent the better part of the past year speaking with people on all sides of this conflict: trans adults, teens, clinicians, and advocates; historians, reporters, authors; Christians who boycotted Potter in the 1990s; doctors, lawyers, and even experts on witch trials. I also sat down with Rowling in her Edinburgh home over the course of several days.

These topics are beyond fraught, and I’m grateful to those who were gracious enough to be open and vulnerable with me—often on the most sensitive of subjects. Regardless of where they stood on the issues, many of the people I spoke with expressed similar concerns about going on the record: the waves of personal attacks that seem to come for anyone who speaks up; the fear that listeners would take them out of context; that they would lose their friends, family, career, safety; that their reputations would be destroyed.

I am not immune to these fears. And yet, I remain a believer in the power of conversation. The ones I had for this series challenged my assumptions and showed me that this conflict is even more complex than I had imagined. I don’t pretend to have answers to the deep questions at the heart of this series. But I’m more persuaded than ever that talking—and listening—will help us find the path forward.

And here’s her the summary of this last episode.

In Chapter 7:  What If You’re Wrong?, released this morning, Megan Phelps-Roper asks J.K. Rowling to respond directly to the most incisive accusations lodged by her critics. Among those criticisms: that the Harry Potter author is engaging in bigotry; that she is blind to her transphobia; and that her words are creating an environment that is dangerous to trans people.

The two also discuss the difficulty of discernment—why it can be so hard to know if you are standing up for what’s right—and the difference between what Rowling says she believes and what her critics claim she does.

No matter where you stand on this heated debate, we think you’ll find her answers well worth your time.

The formal response starts about 10 minutes into the podcast when Phelps-Roper asks Rowling, “what if you’re wrong?” And yes, Rowling is asked some hard questions, including “What would make you change your mind about trans issues?”  If you’re someone who thinks that Rowling is a transphobe, do have a listen to her unscripted responses.

Although ultimately Phelps-Roper seems to come down on the side of Rowling, I’m not suggesting that you listen to just this part. If you have the time, listen to the whole series. (I’m nor sure if you have to be a subscriber like me to The Free Press to hear it all.)

Click to listen (there’s a few ads about 40 minutes in):

49 thoughts on “J. K. Rowling answers her critics

  1. No, you don’t have to be a subscriber to listen to the podcast series. I’ve heard all six previous episodes and will catch up with the final instalment tonight. It’s been a fascinating and balanced series – Episode 2 detailing the online origins of much of the discourse around the transgender and other “progressive” issues was particularly good IMHO. Many of the episodes feature very little of JKR’s input, so the latest episode should bring everything full circle.

    1. Seconded, available wherever free podcasts are sold!

      I’ve heard the first 6, and the last one downloaded itself today. The series provides some interesting insights into JKRs background and the reasons for her strong attachment to feminism and women’s issues. And the consequences of the silencing of those issues with no discussion allowed by the mob. Worth a listen.

  2. Rowling has the misfortune to inhabit the “wokest” part of the UK; Caledonia’s odious SNP is now led by Humza Yousaf, whom no-one could consider to be a proponent of freedom of expression.

    1. You are absolutely correct there especially when it concerns his chosen religion. In the past he has used every trick possible to avoid voting in the Scottish legislature when it involves his religion
      Odious SNP is an understatement. It can only get worse, in my opinion.

  3. I have not listened to the podcast, and probably won’t (listening to podcasts takes too long), but I note that the criticisms summarised by Jerry are not actually criticisms of her argument. That is, it could be true that Rowling is a bigot, is blind to her transphobia, and says things that make life more dangerous for transpeople (I don’t think any of these accusations *are* true, by the way) and her argument could still be a sound one.

    Have we completely forgotten how to distinguish between an argument and the character of the person advancing it?

  4. That was an wonderful podcast, and very thought provoking, even for us who feel we are on the right side of this issue. Megan Roper-Phelps did an excellent job interviewing Rowling, and her critics. She asked hard questions, but with empathy and understanding. No podcast has moved me like this one. Cannot wait for the epilogue in a few weeks.

  5. That looks really well done. But how effective can such a long series be?
    The average person (and I’m sure most of her critics) only hear second-hand that J.K. Rowling is a demonized transphobe, without actually taking a moment to read what she actually wrote. So even well-meaning people only get a one-sided smattering of information and they are left to just paint in the details that makes that true. And this is how the facts-be-damned activists win. What would do the most good toward getting the actual story out to a wider audience is to make something a lot shorter.

    1. Some people I know *refuse* to read anything she’s written because “she’s a transphobe”. One person I finally convinced to actually read her original essay ended up having to admit that there was nothing hateful in it.

  6. It is deplorable that Rowling has to go to such lengths to defend herself against criticisms that are personal and therefore can’t be defended. The three criticisms cited above are along the lines of “Are you still beating your wife?husband?”. i.e. tell us why you arent a transphobe…or a racist. Extrapolating their predetermined opinions of her to her books is worse than cheap; it is delusional. Here is one of the great contributors to English literature and she has to spend her time answering certified
    morons and fanatic faux feminists??? I regret I havent watched the videos because they take too much time. I wish there were abridged postings we could read instead. However, she has the last laugh….or cry; as they say, the attacks on her made her cry all the way to the bank. She and her books will go down in history as important cultural icons. Her critics will just be buried unmourned and forgotten.

    1. >“Are you still beating your wife?husband?”. i.e. tell us why you arent a transphobe…or a racist.

      Yes. And considering “harm” is also defined by the accusing righteous mob, it will make no difference to them.

  7. Megan Phelps-Roper did an excellent, empathetic, and fair-minded series from what I’ve listened to thus far. I hope it finds a large audience and improves the level of discourse around gender rights and trans activism. Rowling has been unfairly targeted by bullies, in my view.

    1. The denial is that trans women are to be treated identically to biologial women in every respect.. And if you think that, as Rowling does (and I do), then I reject the label of “transphobe.”

      1. Why did Rowling cancel the writer Stephen King after telling him how much she admired him? Simply because King claimed that trans women are women.

        1. She didn’t “cancel” him for chrissake; she blocked him on Twitter and removed a tweet she posted praising him. From the Independent:

          Stephen King has reflected on his and JK Rowling’s online fall-out last summer.

          In June 2020, the Harry Potter author deleted a tweet expressing her love of fellow novelist King, after he confirmed that he supports trans women.

          When asked about the incident in a new interview with Daily Beast, King said: “Jo cancelled me. She sorta blocked me and all that. Here’s the thing: She is welcome to her opinion. That’s the way that the world works.

          That should answer your question; she was fed up with the stuff. If that’s cancellation, I’m a hedgehog. Is this some sort of dig at Rowling, for crying out loud. Because blocking someone on Twitter is nowhere near what Rowling got, including hundreds of death threats and rape threats.

          You’ll have to do that if you want to retain any credibility on this website.

        2. “Trans women are/are not women” are meaningless statements without defining ‘women’, and to define such as ‘adult human females’ merely shifts the onus of definition to the term ‘female’.
          My article in ‘Rationale’ – ‘Sex, gender and identity: It’s complicated’ – describes at least 7 different, alternative, potentially useful distinctions between the genders, and explains that the complications arise when we try to discern which of the ‘definitions’ applies most usefully and fairly to each issue or circumstance.
          For example, (hardwired) gender identity is a reasonable criterion to apply when deciding on birth certificate entries for gender, and testosterone levels are relevant to sporting participation.
          It is also reasonable to have a discussion about whether physical appearance is a legitimate criterion when deciding whether to admit trans women into the female change rooms at the local pool.
          To have an opinion on this does not make anyone a transphobe.
          The simplistic, extremist positions advanced above show that the question in the title of my followup article – ‘Sex, gender, and identity” Science or politics?’ – was very much a rhetorical one.

          1. Your article is paywalled so I am responding to what you’ve written here rather than anything you may have said there.

            Why would hardwired gender identity be reasonable for birth certificates? We need to keep a record of birth sex somewhere and birth certificates (where I live) are not generally presented as identification except in a few rare circumstances. In most cases drivers license or personal id are used which, I would agree, we should allow to be changed.

            As time goes on we are starting to find differences in response to drugs based on sex. This difference in response has lead to a greater emphasis on ensuring medical research takes both sexes into account when designing research trials in case there are differential responses. Knowing a persons born sex is important for medicine in particular.

            I agree that generally society only cares about sex in a few circumstances. Medicine is one, relationships is another, same sex spaces is a third.
            For example: My position is that post-op on medication trans-women should be allowed in women’s change rooms. I am undecided on pre-op but that is a much harder issue.

          2. A second reply:

            The article discussing the hard-wired nature of ‘gender identity’ is a very different perspective than the common trans rights activist perspective. Which focusses mostly on feelings rather than medical diagnosis. Is exposure in the womb important, probably, and we can probably test that, if we can test that it would not be what the activists want because then we could start being more accurate about gender/sex identity again and I doubt they’d appreciate this.

    2. Ok, I’ll bite. Trans women are women in much the same way that faux leather is leather. If that implies fauxphobia, then consider me guilty. But, personally, I’m quite fond of the faux leather in my SUV. Am I supposed to hate and mistreat it because it isn’t real leather?

      One can be tolerant, compassionate, and kind to people without subscribing to ideological distortions of language and attempts to browbeat people into compliance through social coercion. And the insistence that being a woman does not include the necessary (if insufficient) condition of being a female is, in my view, one such distortion. As is the corollary insistence that refusing to comply with such language demands “erases” trans people. As is the insistence that kindness means telling people only what they demand to hear. The “phobia” charges and language demands are increasingly falling on deaf ears among people who would otherwise either help or at least tolerate the trans cause. And where minors are concerned, the activism is creating a huge backlash.

      But then again, as to providing “a definition for the word ‘woman’”, I should perhaps say “I’m not a biologist”. But nor am I a judge, so that astute and succinct answer at first evaded me.

    3. A lot of fuzzy thinking in there, Hominino.

      You have a logical fallacy first. Even if the “If…” proposition is true, it contains the weasel-word “implies”. So a conclusion that follows from it can’t be “obviously” true, even conditional on the hedging truth of the “If” statement. The best you can say is that Rowling is “implied” to be a transphobe.

      Recast as, “If denying that trans women are women is transphobia, then Rowling is a transphobe.” Now you must prove two things:

      First, that Rowling actually says that trans women are not women. (I don’t much care whether she says this or not. If she says it, fine, then I agree with her. If she doesn’t say it, well, I forgive her. A woman is an adult human female, which a trans woman is not, whether JKR says that or not.)

      Second, that denying that trans women are women really is transphobia. This you can’t prove because “transphobe” is simply a pejorative epithet hurled at people you don’t like with no agreed-upon meaning, much like “racist” has become. It is very difficult to make a pejorative epithet stick against someone who merely utters a true fact, or holds a position for which there is reasonable evidence of truth. “Transwomen are not women” might be disappointing for trans activists to hear, and one they might wish not to be uttered, but it cannot be transphobia on its face….unless, as our Prime Minister does, you define transphobia as denying that transwomen are women. But he’s an idiot and his statement is idiotic, even as a tautology.

      I don’t need to defend JKR against accusations of transphobia, no matter what she says. It is an imaginary crime, like blasphemy or, nowadays, racism. But for people who do feel that accusations of transphobia need to be defended against, i.e., those who believe it is an actual crime that people could be guilty of and deserve punishment, I submit the above argument in her defence.

    4. If transphobia is defined as “denying that trans women are women” then you must concede that transphobia isn’t the horrible thing that makes you persona non grata because the meaning is “not agreeing with a particular definition”. There’s nothing wrong with that as long as it is not coupled with denying trans gender people their rights or persecuting them for being trans gender.

    5. Why don’t you scream, “I’VE NEVER READ A WORD J K ROWLING HAS EVER WRITTEN” a bit louder.

      Your accusation is false. She simply lives in the reality where when we talk about women in terms of sex and women in terms of gender we are saying different things. I actually think the majority of trans ppl with gender dysphoria agree with this. They wouldn’t be able to get the correct healthcare if they didn’t.

  8. I “third” simon’s second above. I know pretty much nothing of harry potter, being the odd man out as my wife, children, grandchildren and even my septuagenarian trial-walking friends have read the books, seen the movies and refer to me as a “muggle” which apparently means i am on the outside of these literary adventures. But i do have concerns over the treatment of jk rowling and particularly because i cannot get any of her critics who cry transphobia to explain their position to me.

    So i listened to episode 1 of the podcast when free press made it available and found it to be very informative. i started to listen to episode 2, but got lost in it and quit as it seemed to require some harry potter knowledge which i do not have. I did not listen to any more until this morning when free press dropped episode 7 on me. Wow! This was a great and worthwhile hour. I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to understand jk rowling’s true views….and based on jez’ comments, i will go back and try episode 3.

    1. I watched the movies, because our kids were too young to go to the movies alone! Although old enough to read the books alone. I agree that the first two or three get a bit buried in Potter, but it moves onto the politics pretty well after those. Persevere!

  9. I don’t listen to podcasts, but broke my habit for this series, which I’d heard praised for its scope, depth, and sensitivity. Indeed. I thought Witch Hunts would be even if neither Rowling nor the trans debate interests you because so much of it involves common topics in skepticism and psychology: how we make choices, how we form convictions, and how we change our minds — or not. It deals with hero-worship and its pitfalls. High recommend.

    Trans activists have complained throughout that it was too one-sided, though the penultimate episode mollified them somewhat because it interviewed only trans people. As Rowling says in the final installment, however, they will accuse you of “not listening to trans people” if you don’t agree with them and makes no difference how many you’ve listened to.

    I thought Joanne was on fire in Chapter 7. So suitable for a witch.

    1. Agreed Sastra!

      I do listen to a lot of podcasts, and this one sucked me right in! I’d been reading about the castigation of Rowling like many others and asking “ok, so what did she say that is so unreasonable?” and having trouble finding it. Even when I have looked at trans-activist/ally articles. So I was looking for more insight from this program, though wary of it’s having an exculpatory agenda. I was happy to see episode 6 with the very articulate and reasonable trans folk giving their views and critique! They were excellent, I thought.

      I’m almost finished ep 7, Rowling’s replies, and my take-away thus far from the series:

      Rowling is one smart cookie! I find her wise and compassionate and raising thoughtful concerns, that come from a compassionate place. I find a lot of the responses hyperbolic and misrepresenting her arguments. When I approach these issues I always have the Parent Test (I’m a parent like many here): How would I react to Rowling’s argument (or the trans movement’s) if MY kid were trans? Any response I have would have to be consistent with my wanting the very best for my child and for my child to be happy and thriving. In that context, I still find Rowling is raising reasonable issues.

      Also, I’ve come to not give a damn for labels ‘like “transphobic” and TERF, in the same way that terms like “Islamophobe” and (unfortunately!) “racist” have become white noise. People have stretched these and so many other terms to just mean what they want, cast as wide a net as they desire, to use as a smear and to mark someone as too toxic to even listen to. Forget your labels, bring me your arguments. Are you truly representing Rowling’s view correctly in your reactions to it? Let’s see you articulate it with intellectual charity, and respond.

      I think that the two trans people in episode 6 did quite a good job of this, and I found their responses were compelling. And upon listening to Rowling again sharpen her argument against the critiques, she too was compelling. She’s not afraid of trans people, she’s afraid of *certain excesses* that seem part of the movement. Her critics seem to have a hard time making this distinction.

      Ultimately at this point I find that both Rowling and fair-minded critiques of her view are good people, compassionate and trying to reason through some very difficult territory.

      So for me it’s not whether “Rowling is evil” but rather if she has correctly balanced the possible harms to benefits (e.g. trans people self identifying and public washrooms). I can see the critique that Rowling has been overly swayed by the possibilities of harm than the actual harms. But that in itself certainly doesn’t make her “transphobic” in the sense of being phobic against trans people. It would make her compassionate…but…wrong. I’m still open to arguments on both sides, myself.

  10. Strangely enough I found this series almost unlistenable, other than the actual interview with JKR. I don’t need to listen to endless audio of random people screaming “die TERF bitch!!” or countless clips of talking news heads recounting a news event the podcast references. I could only listen when I had the time to keep my finger over the “skip ahead 30 seconds”button on my app. Also, as recounted in an op ed (I think in the Atlantic) there are many events and facts stated that simply are not true (although this doesn’t apply to the JKR interviews themselves). Maybe a better editor could have culled this down to a couple hours of high quality content without losing the message.

  11. One of the more egregious instances of trans-bullying based on Pathological Left dogma is the witch-hunt against JK Rowling. There is zero evidence that she hates trans people or wishes them harm. Nevertheless there is not much difference between the howling of the Christian fundamentalist mobs demanding she be killed for promoting witchcraft and the howling of the Trans-bully mob demanding the same for her blasphemy against Pathological Left dogma.

  12. ”Rowling’s either dismissed out of hand by progressives and religious conservatives (some have even burned her books, while Christians see her as promoting witchcraft), while others see Rowling’s comments on transgenderism and the rights of biological women as sensible. (I count myself among the latter group.)”

    Interestingly, trans-rights activists routinely claim that gender-critical people are right-wing on the grounds that MAGA Bible-thumpin’ rednecks also disagree with all the gender woo, but gender-critical people are not stupid enough to claim that trans-rights activists are in collusion with the right because both trans-rights activists and the religious right don’t like Rowling.

    1. I would argue that the right wing doesn’t really critique the gender movement in the same way the gender critical feminists do. The right wing want to preserve the traditional sex roles, expectations, and clothing assigned to each sex. Gender critical feminist want to eliminate these things and the main critique of the modern trans movement is that it takes these superficial traditional roles as being part of a persons in-born identity.

      1. Of course the reasons are different, which is why it is so blatantly stupid to claim that gender-critical people, many of them gay, have anything to do with right-wing evangelical Christians. Similarly, TRAs and right-wing evangelical Christians object to Rowling for different reasons.

  13. So I’m listening and at 35min in, when talking about “Children” medically transitioning, I find JK a bit misinformed.
    It’s a loaded statement to say “medically Transitioning” with implications it’s irreversible.

    fact 1 that JK gets right is yes, some children experiencing Gender dysphoria do grow out of it. This is why Puberty blockers are given at the start of puberty until they are 15/16 years old. Puberty blockers simply postpone puberty by blocking the sudden flood of testosterone/estrogen depending on biological sex. If stopped, Puberty resumes as normal although delayed.

    from 15/16 years old, they can start HRT, this can only happen with psychiatric consult and approval in most countries.

    One thing JK needs to be corrected on is that Gender Dysphoria does not mean transgender. Many Transgender people do not suffer from gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria for this reason is listed as a mental health condition divorced from being transgender.

    regarding “Children”, a term I have trouble with when the “Child” is an adolescent, young adult at age 15/16, she states they’re not old enough to make real world choices that effect their lives.

    at 15/16 they have a very good understanding of who they are, their sexuality and even gender identity, they’re already planning the future, their career goals, applying for Universities. They can legally own and operate a motor vehicle, and in Scotland, where she lives, at the age of 16, they are legally allowed to vote.

    In just 2-3 more years, at the age of 18, suddenly they’re capable of making adult decisions, but not 3 years earlier.
    at 18 they can vote in most countries, can drink alcohol, join the military, get married etc. The term children is used to provoke an emotional response.

    Interesting this same mindset isn’t used when this “Child” commits a crime, act of violence, or runs away to Join ISIS,
    In fact, the commentary is just the opposite “They’re old enough to live with the consequences of their actions/decisions”

    Sound familiar? So why the double standard?

    at the end of the day, puberty blockers are reversable, simply stop taking them and you’re all good.

    Furthermore, nobody can be convinced to be Transgender just as nobody can be convicted/conditioned to gay or straight. One just needs to look at the horrible case of a twin study done involving David Reimer and his brother. Also why the study was never allowed to be repeated.

    Why Puberty blockers until age 15/16 then HRT for appropriate candidates? Because several studies show that transitioning after puberty is much harder, physically and mentally.

    The real concern for me is Psychiatrist rushing to make a determination after just 1 or two patient visits, rather than extensive visits over 6-12 months.

    Another issue for me is this notion that any male or female can simply claim to be transgender. certainly if the person making the claim is obviously putting in a great deal of effort to blend in, I’ll take them at their word, but from a legal position, there are certain criteria that needs to be met, specifically re women’s prisons. For those transwomen, who have been through gender affirming surgery, 100%, put them in female prisons. those who have not had surgery yet, offer it to them, or place them in a segregated section of the prison.

    Forcing Transwomen to use the male toilet puts them at far more risk that women being at risk if they use the female toilets. Because some men are just hateful, violent assholes, and a transwoman in a male toilet is simply asking them to put themselves at risk.

    Also, Crossdressers… I know that the Mayo clinic lists them under the umbrella term of transgenderism, but they’re not. Cross dressing is a sexual fetish. The Mayo clinic always gets things like this wrong. 10 years ago, Transgender was a term they insisted was a mental health condition, even though the DSM4 & 5 don’t list it as such. 30+ years ago, the Mayo clinic associated being homosexual as a mental health condition, so I don’t hold them in high regard when it comes to terminology.

    one other area of interest over the past 14 years, is the ever growing research date regarding the physical brain comparisons of Transgender men and women, who are pre-HRT and comparing to cis men and women. Remarkably interesting studies.
    It’s a shame the far-left cancelled Harvard, Brown, UCLA and others from continuing with the studies, being afraid that the studies may not find in their favour, therefore used to remove rights from trans people.

    which leads me to another point of my long comment… Most of what the left are arguing do not represent Transgender people and are not what transgender people in general are even arguing. some are, they are the exception, not the norm

    1. I’m sorry but you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ll use one example of your distortions:

      Puberty blockers are given at the start of puberty until they are 15/16 years old. Puberty blockers simply postpone puberty by blocking the sudden flood of testosterone/estrogen depending on biological sex. If stopped, Puberty resumes as normal although delayed.

      Sorry, but that’s wrong. If you give them during puberty, there are severe risks, even before you start hormone therapy. Males can get a micropenis, bone density can drop, and there are other medical problems. Plus their long-term effects have not been studied. The effects of these blockers can be reversible when they’re used in adults for “chemical castration,” but not in puberty.

      I won’t have readers spouting medical misinformation on this site.

      1. There are issues even if we take what the poster above said was 100% true. The most obvious — gender-critical women at least — is the presumption that women currently occupying single-sex spaces like bathrooms should be forced to give up even one iota of safety to accommodate trans women.

        Let us say that 1 or 2 sperm-producing trans-identifying people/trans women use the men’s bathroom and they are surely going to be beaten to death by the men whereas they’re going into the women’s bathroom presents only a 1% chance of them committing violence against the women there. Let’s just assume their criminal proclivity is not extreme, just the same as it is for every other human who produces sperm/has male gametes/whatever.

        Asking so-called cis women to trade a tiny bit of their safety for the greater good may be a defensible position according to utilitarian ethics, but that is a whole debate on its own. (Also, good luck getting most women, not most people, but most women currently occupying safe spaces to accede to this request.)

        One cannot assume an objective answer to the trolley problem as a given. The poster is simply assuming we should pull the switch and kill one to save ten would-be victims.

        Of course, the medical profession traditionally held the opposite view on the trolley problem, the directive of “do no harm.” Do no harm requires you to not actively hurt anyone. This principle backs up taboos on experimentation on humans and on killing one mostly healthy human to get two life-saving kidneys. Without this principle, people would be scared of hospitals. (I.e., if I go there and find out I have thyroid cancer, the counter-factual ethos would require the physicians to not give me chemotherapy. It would require them to immediately hit me on the head with a hammer and to harvest my perfectly healthy liver, kidneys, heart, and bone marrow in order to save ten people’s lives.)

        Ironically, the medical industry has by and large signed onto intervention/affirmation in an experimental context.

        Someone could argue in good faith that the benefits of affirmation surgery or puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for 13-year-olds outweigh the damages, but this is a decision for a small group to make in a crisis. Defaulting to intervention without knowing the consequences or in spite of the clear negative consequences is abominable.

        Methinks we have a philosopher’s chasm ere we broach the topic of pediatric facts and myths regarding blocking pills.

        1. The other issue about transwomen using single-sex bathrooms, and in effect transforming them into mixed-sex ones, is that some women then feel forced to self-exclude from them. This can be for religious reasons, but also because survivors of rape and sexual assault can be very afraid when encountering a male-bodied person in spaces where they feel vulnerable e.g. where they have to undress etc.

          If transwomen are too afraid to use male bathrooms then that is a problem for men – however they identity – to sort out. Women’s single-sex services, facilities, and sports were created for very good reasons and it isn’t for men to decide to colonise them. (Also, I’ve seen plenty of evidence of women being filmed and assaulted by transwomen in women’s bathrooms, but none of the same treatment of transwomen by men in male ones. And if there are such instances, as I already said, this isn’t women’s problem to fix!)

    2. *Most* children who experience gender dysphoria grow out of it by experiencing puberty, and most of them turn out to be gay/lesbian. By blocking puberty you’re only prolonging the dysphoria and putting the kids on a track to a lifetime of medication and surgery.

  14. For what it’s worth, I went through King’s Cross at the weekend and the queue to get yourself photographed at “Platform 9 3/4” was massive.

  15. Speaking as a former newspaper journalist of more than 30 years (LA Times, smaller papers in Colorado, New Mexico), I think the producers/writers and Phelps-Roper mostly did a great job with this series.

    They made credible, sincere efforts to get diverse viewpoints, rather than lurching into the now commonly accepted mode of “journalism,” which would have made the series merely a platform for Rowling.

    I do think Phelps-Roper bent a wee bit too far backward with her two young trans guests on episode 6. She did not challenge or ask them to get specific when they asserted that things Rowling has done are actively harmful.

    I suspect this is because, with Rowling as the focus, the team was well aware that many people would dismiss the series out of hand as “transphobic” (yaaaawwwwn), so when they gave the stage to trans critics of Rowling, they didn’t want to seem like they were stepping on them.

    I think Phelps-Roper is an excellent narrator. She’s been doing Sam Harris’ “essential” series, and her voice really is a pleasure to listen to.

    Tangentially, I once ran into Phelps-Roper and her kin, the vociferous anti-gay wingnuts at the Westboro Baptist Church, and I came to the conclusion that, by the time I encountered them (1996, if I recall), they were almost entirely driven by desire for a) publicity and b) money.

    I interviewed protestors across the street from a college campus where the WBC people, including Phelps-Roper and her ringleader mother, Shirley, were doing their thing. Then I crossed the street to speak with church members.

    As I approached, Shirley began shrieking to a nearby police officer, “Get him away from me! He’s tormenting me! Back off!” etc. Her face was red with rage and her clan turned toward the intruder.

    “Ma’am,” I said, “I’m with the local paper. I’d like to interview you if you have a moment.”

    INSTANTLY, the slavering clan’s demeanor changed. Small, beaming children surrounded me (including, I believe, Megan) and Shirley put on a big smile. No apology for calling in the dogs, but boy howdy, was she ready to talk.

    I realized, walking away, that they LIVE for publicity, because by now they are addicted to the money it brings in. Yeah, they believe the garbage they spew (I even have some admiration for them: At least they don’t tie themselves into pretzels trying to deny the horrific reality that is the “holy” bible). But I could see that they had succumbed to what we now call “audience capture”: their ugly schtick was also their meal ticket.

    I wrote a straight story, because y’know, that’s what we *&^%$!! did in those days, doing my best to present the public with as balanced a piece as I could muster, despite the fact that I found WBC really repulsive and nasty to be around.

    1. Thanks. Interesting story about the Phelps clan.

      And very good point about how the trans guests were treated. Makes sense.
      (And though they didn’t get much pushback, they were excellent speakers)

  16. I recently saw a tweeted video of a trans person in emotional angst over being constantly misgendered.

    Unfortunately it was tweeted by a seemingly further-right account, and the replies were predictably a lot of cold hearted glee and derision. Which was very sad.

    However, the plight of this transgendered person really did highlight the awkward terrain we’ve entered. This was a transgendered male, and a fairly young person. However, like many transgender people who have yet to go through full transition treatment, it was clearly someone originally born female, cutting their hair short, wearing plain non-showy, non-gender specific clothes, but very clearly “female at birth” features/voice etc.

    I can understand how frustrating it must be to want to be accepted and referred to as a male. BUT…such people face a catch 22 as does the general public. For one thing, we are evolved to be exquisitely fine tuned to the difference between sexes. So we will tend to recognize a born-female as “female.”

    Secondly, we’ve been conditioned for years that women can cut their hair as short as they wish, wear whatever they wish and still be a “woman.” It’s an insult to misgender a “butch” lesbian as “sir”…just because she chooses to wear close cropped hair and masculine shirts and pants. And basically, this trans person looked like how many lesbians look – short hair, more masculine clothes, but still identifiably “female” in biological sex terms.

    So, when encountering this person, are we to assume we are in the presence of a lesbian (many of them proudly female/feminist)? Or…a trans-male?

    You don’t want to misgender a masculine-looking woman for a male, but now we have trans people who present the same way but will be insulted if you misgender them as female!

    Seems like a lose-lose situation. And it doesn’t seem to be a practical solution that we – what? – all wear T-shirts explaining our preferred gender pronouns at this point?

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