No award is worth keeping if the president of the organization that bestows the prize has no respect for diversity of opinion. That is, at least, how renowned author J.K. Rowling feels.
The “Harry Potter” novelist revealed late last week she will be returning the Ripple of Hope Award she received last year from the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization. The decision came after the group’s president, Kerry Kennedy, one of the daughters of the late Robert F. Kennedy, called Rowling “transphobic” for pointing out the fact that sex is, in fact, a binary between male and female, exclusively.
“Over the course of June 2020 — LGBTQ Pride Month — and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” said Kennedy. “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?’”
The RFKHR leader added that she “categorically” rejects the idea that an individual’s biological, birth sex is “the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender.”
“From her own words,” Kennedy continued, “I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity — a position that I categorically reject. The science is clear and conclusive: Sex is not binary.”
She is, of course, wrong. Science has made it abundantly clear sex does, without a doubt, exist within a binary of male and female.
Kennedy was apparently referring to Twitter posts from June, when Rowling argued the suggestion that sex “isn’t real” would harm — and eventually erase — “the lived reality of women.”
“I know and love trans people,” wrote Rowling. “But erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
After facing criticism for her tweets, the 55-year-old author penned a blog post in which she wrote:
It isn’t enough for women to be trans allies. Women must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves. But, as many women have said before me, ‘woman’ is not a costume. ‘Woman’ is not an idea in a man’s head. ‘Woman’ is not a pink brain, a liking for Jimmy Choos, or any of the other sexist ideas now somehow touted as progressive.
Then, on Thursday, in response to Kennedy, Rowling said she had determined it best to return her Ripple of Hope Award due to the “serious conflict of views” between herself and Kennedy.
“In solidarity with those who have contacted be 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 on me last year,” said Rowling. “I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honor, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it is named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”
Rowling’s statement came just days after a New York-based literary agent, Sasha White, lost her job at the Tobias Literary Agency for sharing a comment on Twitter arguing transgender males who identify as females are not biologically females.
She was dismissed after she retweeted a post that read, “TW [transgender women] being vulnerable to male violence does not make you women.”
White, who has also defended Rowling, spoke out last week, saying she “was fired last night for my feminist stance.” The TLA, she added, fired her as a result of attacks from “the Twitter mob.”