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Writer and activist Rowling: "More fun in court than on the red carpet"

Photo: Stuart C. Wilson/Getty Images

The starting point for Joanne K. Rowling's new social media attack on gender politics was a picture from 2018 that the writer posted on service X (formerly Twitter). On it is the slogan "Repeat after us: Trans Women are Women" projected onto the wall of the British Ministry of Justice. It was an action of the magazine »Dazed«. But Rowling had only one word in response to the demand for X: "No."

The fact that the creator of Harry Potter does not see trans women as women, but rather repeatedly claims that they pose a danger to women in shelters, is not new. Because of this attitude, which is considered by many to be transphobic, numerous celebrities have distanced themselves from Rowling, including stars from the "Harry Potter" film adaptations. The writer also received death threats, but also received explicit support.

The background to Rowling's current statement: At the moment, the rights of trans people have become an issue in the approaching British parliamentary election campaign. After the Scottish government passed an amendment to the law in 2022, according to which trans women and men will be able to change their gender registration without a medical certificate in the future, the Labour Party, which is currently still in opposition, wants to introduce relief throughout Great Britain after an election victory.

Labour leader Keir Starmer, asked by The Times to define what a woman is, said: "A woman is a female adult, and what's more, trans women are women, and that's not just my view – it's already the law."

Rowling criticised this statement, but especially Labour shadow minister Lisa Nandy, whom she described as "one of the main reasons why many left-wing women no longer trust Labour" because of her positions on issues on the issue. Nandy had emphasized the importance of women's rights in her party conference speech – and was confronted by Rowling on X with a statement from 2020 according to which delinquent trans people should be allowed to decide for themselves whether they should be incarcerated in a women's or men's prison: "They said rapists should be transferred to women's prisons if they identify themselves as women," Rowling said.

On Sunday, the tabloid Mail on Sunday reported on alleged plans to make it a hate offence under a future Labour government to intentionally address a person with pronouns other than those they want. This means that transphobic statements could be punished with up to two years in prison, the newspaper report concludes.

Joanne K. Rowling now refers to this message when she writes in another statement on Tuesday evening on X: "I am happy to indent two years if the alternative is obligatory language and the forced denial of the reality and meaning of biological sex." She is already looking forward to the trial, says Rowling: "I'll have more fun there than I've ever had on a red carpet."

Cancellation of Schwarzer event demanded

In Germany, meanwhile, the publicist Alice Schwarzer is under criticism for positions similar to those of Rowling. The most recent venue for the debate is the Literary Autumn in Leipzig. One week before it begins, 33 authors and artists have called for the cancellation of an event with Alice Schwarzer.

Schwarzer repeatedly attracts attention through "transphobic, racist and misogynistic statements and publications," according to an open letter published by the artists on Tuesday. That's why we call on the Literary Autumn not to give Alice Schwarzer a stage for her problematic statements and to remove the event from the program." The organizers of the festival, however, are sticking to the date, Schwarzer reacted indignantly.

The 80-year-old publicist will present her autobiography »My Life« at the Leipzig City Library next week. In the run-up to the event, some of the cooperation partners of the Literary Autumn had already withdrawn because of the event. In a statement, the organizing team explained that they were aware that with Schwarzer, a "controversial author who polarizes us with provocative, sometimes problematic statements" will be given a podium. Nevertheless, there is no question about the achievements of a publicist who has been campaigning for feminism worldwide for decades.

Nils Kahlefendt, co-organizer of the festival, said on Tuesday that the organizers were sticking to the reading. He referred to a statement in which the motives were explained in detail.