Why is the latest tweet from the author of Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts problematic? We explain Rowling's transphobia in detail.

Here We Go Again: JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter and screenwriter of Fantastic animals, has again published some transphobic statements on Twitter.
This is not new, unfortunately. Already in 2020 we had talked about JK Rowling's transphobia in this article. At the time we received a lot of negative comments in which the writer was defended by the sword, but today, over a year later, we notice that her own fanbase has become much colder towards her.

However, with the publication of JK Rowling's latest transphobic commentary we are once again faced with a situation in which there are many discussions in which the writer defends herself. There are those who say that "he is only telling the truth". Others think Rowling is a heroine who defies "politically correct". Still others report numbers that are difficult to confirm, namely that between 2013 and 2018 over 400 male rapists declared themselves women to enter women's prisons in the United Kingdom, and therefore serve lighter sentences.

In short, we are faced with a scenario in which a lot of information is reported, but in which it is not always easy to clarify.
In this article, therefore, we will try to shed some light on Rowling's transphobia. What did he say about transphobic? Why are the arguments you and the TERFs use unfounded and based on populism?

Rowling's transphobic Twitter comment
Rowling's transphobic Twitter comment

What did JK Rowling say on Twitter?

Il 12th December, JK Rowling posted on Twitter these words:

War is Peace. 
Freedom is slavery. 
Ignorance is Strength. 
The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman

War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
The guy with a penis who raped you is a woman

These words are placed above a link to an article by The Times. Let's see what it's about.

The cover image of The Times article
The cover image of the article by The Times

What does the article JK Rowling quotes say?

The article of The Times quoted by JK Rowling is titled 'Absurdity' of police logging rapists as women, Namely The absurdity of the police classifying rapists as women.

This article, which is accessible behind paywall, speaks of a statement made by Gary Ritchie, the Scottish Deputy Commissioner of Police. Indeed, Ritchie would have been asked by former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill how the Scottish police would have dealt with rape cases after the new law went into effect. Gender Recognition Act, i.e. a law that would have made it easier for transgender people to have their gender identity recognized.
Ritchie he would reply that there would be cases where people accused of rape and endowed with a penis could have been registered as women, even without being in possession of a certificate attesting to their gender transition, if they said they identified themselves as women and therefore to be transgender women.

The opinions reported by the article

The article of The Times take a rather approach critical against this affair and reports the words of Kenny MacAskill, former Scottish Secretary of Justice. According to MacAskill, in fact, this approach would be ridiculous, would jeopardize the safety of women in prison and make useless the statistics on the gender of those who commit crimes collected in previous years.
Finally, the article reports the words of the Detective Superintendent Fil Capaldi:

"The sex / gender identification of individuals who come into contact with the police will be based on how they present or how they self-declare, which is consistent with the values ​​of the organization. Police Scotland requires no evidence or certification as proof of biological sex or gender identity other than a person's self-declaration, unless it is pertinent to any investigation with which they are linked. "

“The sex / gender in which individuals who come in contact with the police identify themselves will be based on how they present themselves or how they self-report, which is in accordance with the values ​​of the organization. The Scottish Police do not require evidence or certification to prove biological sex or gender identity, other than a person's self-declaration, unless this is relevant to any investigation to which such individuals are related. "

J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling

Rowling's transphobia: why are her words transphobic?

We now come to the heart of the discussion, namely Rowling's transphobia.
The writer in her tweet quotes and reworks a famous sentence from the novel 1984 by George Orwell, who as you well know tells of a dystopian society in which those who maintain power do so through the manipulation of the public perception of reality.
In this sense, therefore, JK Rowling compares the modus operandi of the Scottish police to the dystopian way of acting of an Orwellian dictatorship, in which people try to make the people believe that they are false, denying the reality of the facts.

The ideas of the TERF

This idea, according to which the acceptance of the gender identity of transgender people is a way to deny the reality of the facts (that is, to deny the existence of biological sex and therefore of the dichotomy "vagina = female" and "penis = male" ) is a very common style in TERF rhetoric. The TERF (radical feminist trans-exclusionary, Namely radical trans-exclusionary feminists) are a fringe of feminists (but their belonging to feminism is questioned by other feminists) according to whom gender identity does not exist, and therefore men and women are such only based on the shape of their genitals.

In this sense, however, TERFs tend not to recognize the studies on the subject carried out in recent decades by Western psychology. In fact, thegender identity, that is the perception that a person has of himself and therefore his feeling of being a man, a woman, or even of another kind, is not a "gimmick" of the "politically correct". On the contrary, gender identity is a human element recognized by (among others) the American Psychological Association.

The tweet from a transgender man responding to Rowling's transphobia in 2020
The tweet from a transgender man responding to Rowling's transphobia in 2020
The question of gender identity: what is it, how is it different from sex and why is it still important?

Gender identity can be aligned with sex, with which it therefore does not enter into conflict: this is the case of people, in fact, cisgender. However, when gender identity does not correspond to sex, we are talking about people transgender. You can therefore understand that gender identity does not erase sex, it is just another element that distinguishes people. The big difference between sex and gender identity is that the former is a physical trait, while the latter is a social and psychological trait.
However, this does not mean that gender identity is less important than sex, or that it is a frivolity: in fact, failure to recognize a person's gender identity can also lead to very serious consequences, including depression and suicidal tendencies.
For those who want to know more in depth, I leave the link to Guidelines for psychological practice with transgender and gender nonconforming people.

Rowling's transphobia and the populist rhetoric of the tweet

You will understand, then, that when Rowling and the TERF compare gender identity to a devious and undemocratic manipulation of reality, in truth they are denying a scientific truth.
In doing so, moreover, they are themselves a subtly manipulate reality, making scientific truths pass for impositions of some obscure ideology. An ideology which they oppose, however, as true brave heroines, hated by the "strong powers" of the "transgender lobbies".

You will understand, again, that this kind of rhetoric is also a lot populist. Populism, in fact, is a type of communication based on the opposition of two realities: the people (based on the real, tangible reality we can identify with!) And the "others". These others are often identified as the "elites", but they can be both the "caste" of politicians, and "the Freemasons", as well as people who are not elites, like journalists or health workers.

Here, in the case of the TERF, the elites are the "transgender lobby" and the "politically correct", while the people are them, the TERF, who bravely fight the powerful to defend the truth.
Rowling's tweet is a bit of the sum of this mentality.
It makes a difficult issue falsely simple, namely the management of gender identity by law enforcement. And he also wants to create a climate of fear, so as to polarize the discourse even more and present the "others" as enemies. In fact, Rowling speaks of "the person who raped you", thus assuming that anyone accused of rape is automatically guilty. And by using that "you" he also wants to speak to people's stomachs, reconnecting with their personal experience.

Gary Ritchie, the Scottish Deputy Commissioner of Police whose comment sparked Rowling's transphobia
Gary Ritchie, the Scottish Deputy Commissioner of Police whose comment sparked Rowling's transphobia
Content Warning: in this paragraph we will talk about rape and sexual assault, go over the next image to avoid it

How does the UK justice system deal with rape and why do TERF's "concerns" make no sense?

But what, then, is this management of gender identity by the Scottish law enforcement agencies?
Will accepting the gender identity of transgender women really create a lot of male rapists who pretend to be women to serve a lesser sentence, as many TERFs claim?
Well, here the matter becomes complex, but not in the way that the TERF understand it

"Rape": a very controversial and narrow definition

In fact, according to the Sexual Offenses Act 2003 - Section 1, the "rape"Is a crime that is committed in a very specific way: that is non-consensual penetration of vagina, anus or mouth through the use of the penis.
You will understand that this is an absolutely limited definition. In fact, it does not take into account the fact that rape can also be provoked in many other ways: there are in fact many cases of rape in which the penetration took place through the use of objects. Furthermore, it is not taken into account that sexual violence does not always involve penetration, even if the perpetrator is endowed with penalties. Finally, such a definition does not take into account the rapes committed by women, or by people who have a vagina. In fact, even women can rape someone, and the victims can be both men and women.

Precisely because of this definition, there is the idea that rape can only be done by men.
In that sense, if a rapist pretends to be a woman, claiming to be transgender, he may receive one lighter sentence (for a rape the penalty is life imprisonment), since legally (according to the TERF) only men can rape someone.

The other two categories of sexual violence that offset the definition of "rape"

The situation, however, is predictably different. In fact, according to the UK Criminal Code, there are other sexual crimes besides rape.
One of these is "Assault by penetration”(Assault by penetration), which includes all cases in which sexual violence is carried out through objects. This type of violence is also punished with life imprisonment.
Furthermore, we also see another type of sexual violence, namely "Causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent”(Getting a person to engage in non-consensual sexual activity), which also applies to the rape of men by women. In this case, if there is non-consensual penetration, the raping person gets a life sentence. If there is no penetration, the maximum sentence is 10 years.

The use of the term "person": rape is related to penetration, but not to being a man or a woman

Furthermore, both in the case of rape, both in the case of assault by penetration, and in the third case, the penal code always speaks of people, not of men e women.
In this sense, if a cisgender man pretended to be a woman after committing penetrative rape, his penalty would not be diminished at all. Similarly, if a transgender woman had raped someone with penetration (via penis, or object), she would not in turn have a decrease in her sentence as a woman, since the crime does not punish on the basis of gender, but on the basis of the act.
At best, one can protest that in this way sexual violence without penetration is viewed as somehow less serious, which is honestly rather questionable.

Rowling's transphobia was also seen several years ago when she liked transphobic tweets like this one
Rowling's transphobia was also seen several years ago when she liked transphobic tweets like this one

Are transgender women in women's prisons really "foxes in a chicken coop"? (Obviously not)

Another workhorse of TERF and JK Rowling against transgender women is the idea that the latter, if put in prison along with cisgender women, could easily rape them, thanks to the fact that they have a penis.
Now, aside from the fact that not all transgender women have a penis, in reality this is a completely far-fetched idea unsupported by numbers.

Transgender women in prison do not commit more sexual assaults than cisgender women

In fact, as reported The Guardian, in the 2019 very few transgender women serving a sentence in a women's prison: only 34 between England and Wales.
Furthermore, there is nothing to indicate that transgender women in prison commit more sexual assaults than cisgender women. In fact, of the 97 sexual assaults committed in women's prisons between 2016 and 2019, only 7 appear to have been committed by transgender women without a gender recognition certificate. Also, always second The Guardian, the management of transgender prisoners and female prisoners is not left to chance, but there are two specialized bodies: the local transgender case board and transgender complex case board.
So even if a transgender woman ended up in a women's prison, there is no data to say that she would be dangerous to other prisoners, or more dangerous than a cisgender woman.

Some graphs on sexual violence suffered by transgender people, reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Some graphs on sexual violence suffered by transgender people, reported by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Transgender people tend to be mistreated frequently by law enforcement

On the contrary, recognizing the gender identity of transgender people even within the prison system is important, indeed, fundamental to guaranteeing their health. After all, don't believe that transgender people are always treated with respect and dignity by the police!
In fact, as it also reports Independent, 58% of trans or non-binary people who went to the police (also to get help) claims to aver suffered mistreatment by the police. These mistreatments range from misgendering (i.e. not having one's gender identity recognized) to verbal insults, even leading to sexual violence. Therefore, we shouldn't be surprised if 57% of transgender or non-binary people say they don't feel safe when dealing with the police.

If you combine these data with the fact that well the 47% of transgender people, interviewed in a 2015 questionnaire, was a victim of sexual violenceIt is easy to understand that the much ridiculed Scottish law enforcement policy is actually only a small help for a very marginalized category of people, and very at risk of being subjected to sexual violence.

A rule to protect all transgender people who go to the police

So if the Scottish police have as a rule never to question (unless specific investigations) the gender that a person claims to have, they will stay this way. protecting the dignity especially of transgender people who go to the barracks to ask for help. Then, of course, this policy will also protect the dignity of transgender people who are accused of / have committed a crime.
But let's always remember that human rights, and the right to be treated with dignity, they are not something that can be taken away from us when we go to jail or we commit a crime. The people who rape are also people and they keep their human rights. And although they have to serve a sentence, let us also remember that this sentence should serve to educate and rehabilitate the guilty, not to punish them indiscriminately.

Satirical tweet about Rowling's transphobia
Satirical tweet about Rowling's transphobia

Let's sum up Rowling's transphobia

In short, once again we are faced with an example of Rowling's transphobia.
This case is particularly unpleasant because JK Rowling it conveys its transphobia by masking it as a concern for the safety of women. And because the writer uses an extremely sneaky method of communication, made to talk to people's stomachs and to convince them that yes, the world is really trying to mess with the normality that we, who are part of the "people", understand this way well, unlike these elites who don't see real, material things.
But, as always, the reality is much more complex.