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‘Feel like more of a woman when you punch down?’ — JK Rowling faces ire for anti-trans tweets

Harry Potter author JK Rowling reinvoked the sex v/s gender debate after she implied that only 'women' menstruated.

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New Delhi: J.K. Rowling, the author of the bestselling ‘Harry Potter’ series, has come under fire on social media for a series of tweets that are being seen as anti-transgender.

On Sunday, Rowling’s comments on an opinion piece that used the phrase “people who menstruate”, led to wide scale backlash on Twitter.

Rowling had written, “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?.”

The opinion piece, by community development platform Devex, was on menstrual hygiene in a post-Covid world and Rowling seemingly disagreed with the headline — ‘Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate’.

Rowling then went further and defended her stance on Twitter, “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Soon after, several LGBTQ groups and users called her out for being anti-transgender.

Also read: Free gender reassignment surgeries soon at govt hospitals under new transgender rights rules

Rowling reinvokes sex v/s gender debate

In gender studies discourse, gender is considered a socially-created category that has no biological basis, but developed due to the interaction of social and cultural forces. Sex, on the other hand, is the biological category you are born into, most often determined with the genitalia one is born with.

The backlash on social media against Rowling was due to the conflation of these two categories by her.

Several people pointed out that ‘women’ are not the only ones who menstruate — non-binary, gender non-conforming individuals and transgender men also get periods.

Actor Nicola Maines took to Twitter to express her disagreement with Rowling’s stance and said, “We’re not saying sex isn’t real. We’re saying it’s different from gender. My assigned sex at birth was male. But I identify as a woman. Sex is in the fun bits. Gender is in the brain,” Maines tweeted.


Singer-songwriter-poet Mary Lambert also slammed Rowling asking her if she feels threatened by trans men who menstruate and if she feels more like a “woman when you punch down”.

Glaad, an LGBTQ advocacy organisation, even went so far as to say, “By the way, looking for some summer reading? ‘Percy Jackson’ author Rick Riordan isn’t transphobic.”

Actor Jameela Jamil and singer Brad Walsh also publicly called out Rowling for her tweets.

One Twitter user Kate Beetle, wrote, “I decided not to kill myself because I wanted to know how Harry’s story ended. For a long time, that was all that kept me alive. Until I met my husband who helped me learn to love myself and to want to live. You just insulted him to my face. I hate you.”

Rowling, however remained undeterred with her stance and posted another couple of tweets


This isn’t the first time that Rowling has faced backlash for expressing such views. In December last year, she was criticised for supporting British researcher Maya Forstater, who lost her job after claiming that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

“Dress however you please,” Rowling had written on Twitter at the time. “Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

Also read: For Chennai’s transgenders, buying milk has become a luxury they can’t afford in lockdown


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