J.K. Rowling Criticized for Transphobia Yet Again

Her latest book portrays a killer cis man who dresses up as a woman to lure victims

BY Allie GregoryPublished Sep 14, 2020

Surprise, surprise. Notorious transphobic Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is being criticized for transphobia once again.

After a seemingly endless span of controversial remarks about trans and gender-nonconforming identities throughout the bulk of 2020, an early review [via The Telegraph] reveals that her latest work — a book titled Troubled Blood released under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith — features an antagonist, a cis man, who dresses up as a woman in order to kill his victims.

Her latest instalment in the Cormoran Strike book series is described by The Telegraph as "the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer."

As the review's author Jake Kerridge predicted, the depiction of the character has spurred controversy among trans rights activists online.

"One wonders what critics of Rowling's stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress," Kerridge wrote.

The trope, some argue, lends to enliven the old-timey bathroom debate, stoking fear among readers to rally against "men" dressing as women — or trans women, as Rowling has shown herself to believe — who wish to enter women's spaces. 

Twitter was quick to respond to the review, filling the trending section with #RIPJKRowling tweets. You can see a selection of those responses below.

Rowling's latest controversy comes following a summer filled to the brim with transphobic activity, including alienating nearly every Harry Potter cast member, fellow author Stephen King and two of her fan clubs for her problematic response to the use of inclusive language in an article about support in the era of COVID-19 for people menstruate, in which she insinuated such language erases the "concept of sex" and thus removes "the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives."  

Back in June, Rowling also went on a 3,800-word rant, complaining about being "cancelled" for her TERF status — during Pride Month, of all times. Later, she compared hormone treatment to "conversion therapy for young gay people."

In related news, over the weekend, a billboard showing support for Rowling popped up in East Vancouver. The sign, which read "I [heart] J.K. Rowling," was covered up less than 24 hours after it was erected

City councillor Sarah Kirby-Yung told City News 1130 that the billboard's message was "hateful."

"The billboard was clearly intended by having a message that said 'I love J.K. Rowling' to target the trans community, be an anti-trans message without getting into the statutory definition in the realm of hate speech," she said.

See some of Twitter's reactions to Rowling's book below.

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