JK Rowling returns award after Kerry Kennedy criticism

JK Rowling has decided she will be giving back an award associated with the US Kennedy family, this comes after the author’s faced continuing criticism for her views on gender and trans issues.

Rowling was given the Ripple of Hope honour by the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation last year.

However, earlier this month, the foundations president, Kerry Kennedy, said views expressed by the author “diminished the identity” of trans people.

Rowling released a statement in response to this which says that Kennedy’s implication that she is transphobic is “incorrect”.

But what’s this argument all about?

Back in June the Harry Potter author first sparked controversy by posting tweets that took issue with the phrase “people who menstruate”.

Rowling didn’t like the avoidance of using the word “women”.

During a lengthy blog post, Rowling said her interest in trans issues has derived from being a survivor of abuse and her concerns around single-sex spaces.

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” she wrote. “At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Several stars from the Harry Potter film universe quickly distanced themselves from her comments, including Eddie Redmayne, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson.

In response earlier this month Kennedy posted a statement, which read: “I have spoken with JK Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community.

“One that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm.

Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.”

She has also said that the foundation has rejected Rowling’s view that an individuals gender is the one they are assigned at birth.

“From her own words, I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity – a position that I categorically reject.”

Rowling published her own statement in response within which she says she disagrees that “there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women”.

She also says that “thousands of women” had got in touch with her to show their support and called for a more nuanced debate.

“Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me,” she continued.

“These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women.

“None of them hate trans people.”

She went on to explain why she’s returning the award: “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR [Robert F Kennedy Human Rights] has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”

After this statement Rowling began to receive support online with the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling trending on social media.