J.K. Rowling is returning a coveted Ripple of Hope Award presented to her by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization in Dec. 2019 after recent remarks from the organization’s president criticizing the author for tweets and statements the organization deemed transphobic.
“Over the course of June 2020 – LGBTQ Pride Month – and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” Kerry Kennedy wrote in a memo on the organization’s website on Aug. 3. “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?”
Kennedy said she and Rowling conversed over the matter and during their interaction, Kennedy took umbrage with the “Harry Potter” scriber’s sentiments.
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“[Rowling] has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community – one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth, in particular, are targeted,” reads Kennedy’s post.
The statement pressed: “From her own words, 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.”
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The scathing anecdote prompted Rowling to issue a retort and on Thursday she took to her own website and wrote that Kennedy had “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.”
Rowling maintained: “As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community.”
The 54-year-old author wrote that in light of the recent back-and-forth she felt it right to relinquish her award.
“In solidarity with those who have contacted me 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 upon me last year,” Rowling said.
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“I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience,” the author continued.
Since Rowling publicly expressed her sentiment regarding transgender individuals, four employees have left her literary agency and members of the “Harry Potter” film umbrella have come forth to denounce her comments.
“I firmly stand with the trans community and echo the sentiments expressed by many of my peers. Trans women are women. Trans men are men,” Rupert Grint, 31, said in a statement obtained by Fox News in June. “We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment.”
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Meanwhile, fellow “Potter” stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson also shared their support for transgender individuals following Rowling’s statements.
“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” Radcliffe, 30, wrote in an essay published online.
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“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson, 30, tweeted. “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”