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J.K. Rowling explains her gender identity views in essay amid backlash

Actor Daniel Radcliffe responded to controversy sparked by "Harry Potter" creator J.K. Rowling's tweet about gender identity.

Posted: Jun 11, 2020 2:21 PM
Updated: Jun 11, 2020 2:21 PM

Author J.K Rowling is once again trying to explain her views on gender identity amid backlash over statements she made on social media that have drawn criticism from some who brought many of her written works to the big screen, including Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne.

"All I'm asking -- all I want -- is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse," Rowling, the mind behind the "Harry Potter" books, wrote in an essay published to her website on Wednesday.

Rowling has come under criticism in the past in the past for views that were perceived by some as transphobic. She became the target of ire again over the weekend for a Tweet mocking a headline about "people who menstrate."

"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," she tweeted on Saturday. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

The tweet, and her follow-up comments, prompted backlash from transgender activists, including Radcliffe, who wrote a piece for the Trevor Project.

In her 3,600-word essay, Rowling does not walk back her views. In fact, she gets into controversial topics such as transgender bathroom laws.

"I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe," she says at one point, acknowledging elsewhere, "I believe the majority of trans-identified people not only pose zero threat to others, but are vulnerable for all the reasons I've outlined"

Attempting to explain how her own experiences influenced her view, Rowling discloses that she is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor.

"I'm mentioning these things now not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who've been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces," she wrote.

She adds: "The last thing I want to say is this. I haven't written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one....I've only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I'm creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people."

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