J.K. Rowling: Transgender comments ‘profoundly’ misunderstood


Author J.K. Rowling has made a shocking revelation about her past controversial comments, claiming her statements about transgender people have been “profoundly” misunderstood.

“I never set out to upset anyone,” she said in the trailer for her forthcoming podcast, “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling.” “However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.”

Rowling, who penned the “Harry Potter” novels, has received backlash in recent years for her comments about transgender people. In the episode, the 57-year-old recalls many online saying, “You’ve ruined your legacy,” or “You could have been beloved forever, but you chose to say this.”

But she simply states: “You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.”

The podcast, which premieres Feb. 21 on The Free Press, will be hosted by Megan Phelps-Roper, who was raised as part of the Topeka, Kansas-based Westboro Baptist Church known for protesting LGBTQIA+ beliefs and later left the congregation to write the memoir “Unfollow” about her experience.

Now, in the podcast, Rowling will reflect on what happened when “she came to drop a ‘hand grenade into Twitter.’ “

It all began in 2020 when she claimed that the “lived reality of women globally is erased” if “sex isn’t real,” referring to trans women.

J.K. Rowling at premiere of Secrets of Dumbledore
The controversy began in 2020 when “Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore” screenwriter J.K. Rowling tweeted statements about trans women that angered fans.
Dave Benett/WireImage

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives,” she added at the time. “It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

The novelist also boldly declared on Twitter that “sex is real,” while arguing that grouping cisgender women and trans women together erases her lived experiences of “being female.”

At the time, she was mocking the phrase “people who menstruate,” sarcastically writing that there “used to be a word for these,” referring to the term “women.”

The author was slammed online for her comments, prompting heated responses from followers and even the LGBTQIA+ organization GLAAD.

J.K Rowling on red carpet
Despite the backlash, Rowling claimed she doesn’t lose sleep over her partial fanbase loss, standing her ground.

Critics accused her of being a TERF – a trans-exclusionary radical feminist – and “Harry Potter” fans rushed to remove their series-inspired tattoos and cross Rowling’s name out of their beloved novels.

Following the initial backlash, Rowling penned a lengthy statement that was published online in 2020, defending her statements while insisting she is not hateful, transphobic or misogynistic.

She cited concerns for “current trans activism,” which she argued was “pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender.”

“I’m concerned about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning (returning to their original sex), because they regret taking steps that have, in some cases, altered their bodies irrevocably, and taken away their fertility,” she wrote at the time.

While she pleaded for a mutual understanding, her letter stoked the fire – and even prompted commentary from the films’ stars.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter, who appeared as Bellatrix Lestrange on-screen, claimed Rowling was being “hounded,” adding that the author is “allowed her opinion.” Meanwhile, Ralph Fiennes, who was cast as Voldemort, called the “verbal abuse” directed towards the writer “disgusting” and “appalling.”

But not everyone in the franchise could excuse Rowling’s sentiments.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played the series’ titular character, stated that “transgender women are women” in an essay for the Trevor Project. Rupert Grint, who played Ron Weasley, even said he doesn’t “necessarily agree” with everything she says, but still thinks of her as “an auntie.”

Rumors swirled that she was barred from the HBO reunion of the “Harry Potter” cast members over her controversial comments – but she denied the allegations, claiming she was asked to be on the special.

“I decided I didn’t want to do it. I thought it was about the films more than the books, quite rightly. That was what the anniversary was about,” she said at the time.

And as for detractors, the writer once stated that she isn’t losing sleep over disappointed fans.

“I read my most recent royalty cheques and find the pain goes away pretty quickly,” she said in October 2022 in response to a tweet asking the author how she sleeps at night after losing her “whole audience.”

Now, Rowling will rehash all of the backlash stemming from her comments as well as her escape from an “abusive marriage” and how “Harry Potter” came to be.

In an article promoting the forthcoming podcast, Phelps-Roper sent a letter to Rowling requesting an interview in the hopes of fostering “good-faith conversation.”

She explained that as a former member of Westboro Baptist Church, she once believed its doctrines — that is, until angered Twitter users prompted her to practice some self-reflection which led to her exiting the church.

“Like Rowling, I knew what it was like to be an object of intense hatred,” Phelps-Roper wrote. “But I also knew the value of good-faith conversation, and the role it can play in bridging even the deepest divides.”


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