Politics

A Letter To J.K. Rowling From A Young Transgender Person Who’s Sick Of Her Shit

You have a huge platform which you’re using to spread hate and misinformation. You’re harming many who used to love your books.

J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling — please stop.

Many of us looked up to you, and loved your books. You’ve betrayed us. Your attitude toward the trans community is irresponsible and dangerous — you have a huge platform, which you use to spread hate and misinformation. You’re harming many who used to love your books and look up to you.

In news that will shock absolutely no-one in the LGBTIQ+ community, J.K. Rowling is at it again with some transphobic bullshit.

The Harry Potter author has voiced transphobic views before, but it has become much more explicit in recent months. In June, she published a 3,600 word blog that included many of the arguments made by TERFs, aka trans exclusionary radical feminists, which boil down to a belief that trans women are a danger to women, children and feminism as a whole.

Following this, her most recent behaviour includes a flurry of Tweets comparing hormone therapy to conversion therapy, claiming that transgender people are not valid, and even claiming that trans youth are “being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests”.

Personally, I don’t want to be saying her name, or writing about her, or giving her any air time. I would prefer to not think about her. However, she’s made that almost impossible, and I think it’s important that a transgender person (me), points out how harmful her behaviour is to our community.

Many of my cisgender (non-transgender) friends have said things such as “just ignore her” or “just don’t look at her comments”. The thing is though, that ignoring her comments doesn’t take away the harm she’s causing to our community and in particular to our trans youth.

Her behaviour is dangerous.

Why J.K. Rowling Is Harmful To The Trans Community

There’s a lot to unpack here.

J.K. Rowling’s recent tweets are dangerous for many reasons. The first reason is that she is conflating life-saving medical treatment for transgender people with conversion therapy.

The fact of the matter is that hormone treatment can save the lives of transgender people. Denying transgender people these lifesaving treatments doesn’t make them less trans, but it may make them suicidal. Forcing transgender people to live as the wrong gender, rather than providing much needed medical care to support their transition kinda sounds more like conversion therapy to me.

What is also harmful about these tweets is that she is spreading misinformation and hate to her over 14 million followers, many of whom will take this incorrect information as fact.

Parents of transgender children may see these lies, and refuse to support their child’s transition.

This is incredibly concerning for many reasons, for example:

  1. The homelessness rate of transgender youth is incredibly high, mostly due to parents not accepting their trans child and kicking them out of the family home. In Australia 71% of transgender youth do not live at home with their families.
  2. The suicide rate of transgender people is one of the highest in the world. In Australia 41% of transgender youth have experienced suicidal thoughts and 35% of transgender youth have attempted suicide.

Rowling has stated that she is “concerned” that lifesaving medical treatment for transgender people is a “new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function”.

Not only are these comments incredibly harmful, but they are completely incorrect.

Rowling’s “concerns” that trans and gender diverse youth are receiving medical care and hormones are not rooted in any scientific research. However, there is research which proves Rowling’s claims to be wrong.

This report concludes that “gender-affirming hormones are associated with improvements in gender dysphoria or mental health, or both, in transgender adolescents, which is consistent with the findings in the literature for transgender adults.”

The truth is that hormone therapy and puberty blockers save lives. And Rowling’s comments suggesting otherwise are actively putting the lives of young trans and gender diverse people at risk.

Transgender people already find it difficult to access health services.

A survey conducted in 2017 on the experiences of trans youth in the medical system in Australia found that 60% of trans young people felt isolated from medical and mental health services, and 42% had seen a service provider who was not understanding of their gender identity. In response to these systemic issues, the transgender community has been fighting for our right to receive equal healthcare, legal rights and protections for many years.

Why Is J.K. Doing This To Her Readers?

Trans and gender diverse youth deserve support, healthcare, love and acceptance. Rowling’s comments directly perpetuate hatred and violence.

And it’s such a shame, because many young trans people looked up to J.K. Rowling as an author — they may have found escapism in her books, they may have been able to identify with the feeling Harry had of feeling different, and not being accepted for who you are (I know I did).

So, learning that one of our heroes holds such negative, incorrect, and harmful views about us — that can have a devastating effect. Our youth are vulnerable, they need protection. People don’t realise how hurtful these comments can be to young vulnerable transgender people.

The other concerning outcome of Rowling’s comments is the violence that they perpetuate toward transgender people and in particular transgender Women of Colour. The timing of her comments, in the midst of the Black Lives Matter movement, is relevant. She is well aware that we need to be focusing on Bla(c)k lives at the moment (and I argue, always). This includes Bla(c)k trans lives.

Last year 331 transgender people were murdered and most of those people were transgender Women of Colour.If you think that an author’s tweets don’t contribute to this, you’re wrong.

The hatred that she is spreading to her millions of followers directly affects Bla(c)k transgender people — at a time when we need to be fighting for the lives of Bla(c)k people.

We need to show up and continue to fight for the lives of Bla(c)k people. We need to fight for Bla(c)k trans lives. We need to be raising the voices of Bla(c)k trans people in response to this hatred and we need to protect and support trans youth.

If you are a young trans or gender diverse person who has been hurt by Rowling’s comments, please know that you are so very loved. You are enough.

You are amazing and you will do amazing things. Be yourself. I know the behaviour of this woman is hurtful but please keep going — we need you to stick around. The community has your back.

It’s also worth remembering there’s a bunch of books you can read that aren’t Harry Potter.

Here are some YA books you can read that have trans and gender diverse characters (Thank you to Twenty10 for providing this list):

  • Kindred: 12 Queer #LoveOzYA stories
  • Highway Bodies by Alison Evans
  • One in Every Crowd by Ivan Coyote
  • Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales
  • Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me by Mariko Tamaki

Here are some lists of more trans-inclusive books to check out, including some by Australian trans authors:

If you are trans and/or gender diverse person or an ally in need of support here are some resources:

Twenty10 is a Sydney based service working across New South Wales, providing a broad range of specialised services for young people aged 12-25 including housing, mental health, counselling and social support.

Transhub is a digital information and resource platform for all trans and gender diverse (TGD) people in NSW, our loved ones, allies and health providers.

Minus18 is Australia’s national organisation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) youth.

Transgender Victoria is Victoria’s leading body for trans and gender diverse advocacy.

Transcend provides parent/carer support, community connection, information, advocacy & fundraising.

If you are an LGBTQI+ person in need of emotional support at the moment these are some resources you can contact:

LGBTIQ+ specific:
QLife, the national LGBTIQ+ counselling service for phone on 1800 184 527 or webchat support from 3pm-midnight every day.

ACON Counselling – 02 9206 2000


Hayden advocates for the Transgender, Disabled and First Nations communities through his roles in various activist groups and organisations. He is also a PhD candidate at the University of Sydney.