British novelist J.K. Rowling acknowledged this week she would “happily” go to jail if the government in the United Kingdom made it illegal to refer to someone by anything other than their preferred pronouns.
“I’ll happily do two years if the alternative is compelled speech and forced denial of the reality and importance of sex,” she posted to X. “Bring on the court case, I say. It’ll be more fun than I’ve ever had on a red carpet.”
I'll happily do two years if the alternative is compelled speech and forced denial of the reality and importance of sex. Bring on the court case, I say. It'll be more fun than I've ever had on a red carpet.— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) October 17, 2023
Rowling published the comment after one X user told her “misgendering” a person could result in — under Labour Party leadership — two years behind bars.
The back-and-forth ensued after the “Harry Potter” author wrote “No” in response to a picture of a wall with the following message projected onto it: “Repeat after us: Trans women are women.”
While it’s already considered a “hate crime” in the U.K. to deliberately refer to someone by their non-preferred pronouns (the pronouns that correlate to the individual’s actual sex), a Labour government would take the law a step further by adding to the offense a penalty of two years in jail.
Lawmakers with the Labour Party would like to see the “hate crime” of “misgendering” elevated to an “aggravated offense,” akin to assault and harassment motivated by racial and religious hatred.
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“The Conservatives are failing to protect LGBT+ people with their inability to get a handle on hate crime, including violent hate crime, Anneliese Dodds, secretary of Shadow Women and Equalities, told the Daily Mail. “Labour will strengthen the law to ensure the perpetrators of anti-LGBT+ hate can no longer dodge longer sentences.”
Rowling, for her part, has argued the law is, in effect, compelled speech because it would require people to use others’ preferred pronouns — even if such a practice violates their sincere convictions.
The novelist has a good sense of humor about the matter, even joking what her jail cell might look like.
“Hoping for the library, obviously, but I think I could do ok in the kitchens,” she wrote. “Laundry might be a problem. I have a tendency to shrink stuff/turn it pink accidentally. Guessing that won’t be a major issue if it’s mostly scrubs and sheets, though.”
Rowling continued, “I’m OK at ironing. It’s the not checking there’s a random red sock in amongst the sheets that’s the issue.”
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