J.K. Rowling Returning Human Rights Award After Kennedy Family Member Accuses Her of Transphobia
By Liz Calvario
J.K. Rowling is returning her Ripple of Hope Award, given to her by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization in December 2019, following recent comments from the president of the organization, Kerry Kennedy. Earlier this month, Kennedy took to the organization's website to criticize the Harry Potter author after her "deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements."
"Over the course of June 2020 -- LGBTQ Pride Month -- and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” Kennedy penned. "On June 6, she tweeted an article headlined 'Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.' She wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity: ‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"
Kennedy explained that she spoke with the famed author "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 nonbinary 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."
On Thursday, Rowling posted on her website that Kennedy had "incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people."
"As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community," the author stated, before announcing that she would return her Ripple of Hope Award.
"In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year," she revealed. "I am deeply saddened that RFKHR 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."
In June, the 54-year-old Harry Potter scribe was heavily criticized for replying to an article talking about "people who menstruate," joking that there "used to be a word" for those people. After being slammed on social media by members and allies of the transgender community, the British author clarified her position, tweeting, "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth."