Scepticism about allowing teenagers to transition to a different gender came from an unexpected source this week: J.K. Rowling, the author of the fabulously successful Harry Potter series.
She was provoked by a Twitterstorm over her tweet mocking a Devex headline, “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate”. “People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she wrote. “Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
“Stop hating trans people you awful weirdo,” was a typical response.
For Rowling, it turns out, this debate cuts close to the bone. She reveals in a 4,000 essay posted on her website that she is a survivor of sexual violence. And allowing trans women to use women’s facilities is “playing fast and loose with women’s and girls’ safety”.
After backgrounding herself on the reasons for a 4400% increase in teenage girls in the UK seeking to transition, she has accepted the arguments of sceptics: that most gender dysphoric children eventually accept their natal sex and that they will not commit suicide if they cannot transition.
Striking a personal note, she says that she remembers being an unsettled and confused teenager. Had the possibility of transitioning existed then, she might have taken advantage of it. “I believe I could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred,” she writes.
Rowling views the transgender debate as another facet of “the most misogynistic period I’ve experienced”. She says: “between the backlash against feminism and a porn-saturated online culture, I believe things have got significantly worse for girls. Never have I seen women denigrated and dehumanised to the extent they are now.”
It’s a provocative essay, well worth reading.
Michael Cook is editor of BioEdge
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