Moves to silence J.K. Rowling are attacks on women’s rights

By Ögmundur Jónsson
April 1, 2024
Protest at Scottish Parliament Feb. 9, 2023, over “transgender” men being put in women’s jail cells. Inset, J.K. Rowling faces “hate crime” charges over her support for ban on “all men — however they identify” in women’s spaces.
Inset, Press Asssociation via AP/Andrew Milligan; above, PAProtest at Scottish Parliament Feb. 9, 2023, over “transgender” men being put in women’s jail cells. Inset, J.K. Rowling faces “hate crime” charges over her support for ban on “all men — however they identify” in women’s spaces.

LONDON — TV personality India Willoughby asked police in Northumbria to arrest author J.K. Rowling for alleged “transphobia,” claiming that her online remarks were a “hate crime.” At stake for working people is the defense of crucial free speech rights, as well as conquests won in the fight for women’s emancipation. 

For years Rowling has spoken out against unscientific claims that “men” and “women” are subjective categories that can be changed at will. Her views have been met with vilification from layers in the woke middle class and calls for her books to be banned. 

Willoughby’s accusations against Rowling began after an online exchange. On March 3 the Harry Potter  author wrote, “When men — all men, however they identify — are banned from women’s spaces, those who disregard the ban can be challenged.” She pointed out that this protects women’s safety. 

Rowling’s views were challenged by one person who wrote, “So you are saying this lady should use the men’s locker room?” before posting a video of Willoughby — who is a man who identifies as a woman — dancing. Rowling replied, “You’ve sent me the wrong video. There isn’t a lady in this one.” She added, “India didn’t become a woman. India is cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is.” 

Willoughby reacted hysterically, claiming that if he’s murdered, Rowling would be to blame. Rowling denies her comments were transphobic.

There are two sharply separate questions involved here. Individuals who decide to live as someone whose sex is different than their biology determines should have a right to do so. But that should not include taking actions that threaten women, like men using women’s bathrooms, nor imposing unfair competition by men participating in women’s sports. 

Northumbria cops dismissed the complaint against Rowling. Willoughby’s supporters then referred the complaint to cops in Scotland where Rowling lives. Police there said Rowling’s remarks would not be investigated, but only because she made them before April 1. That is the date when a new hate crime law comes into force in Scotland, making it illegal to “stir up hatred.” The thought-control statute threatens to jail people based solely on what they say. 

Rowling vows to continue “calling a man a man” in defiance of the new law.  

The campaign to silence Rowling goes back to her support for Maya Forstater, who won a case in 2021 against her former employer, the Center for Global Development. Bosses there fired Forstater for defending women’s rights after she said that sex is “real, important, immutable, and not to be conflated with gender identity.” An appeals court found that Forstater had a right to express her views, which in fact are based on science.

Willoughby “appears to have forgotten that the Forstater ruling established that gender-critical views can be protected in law as a philosophical belief,” Rowling wrote March 6. “No law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman.” 

In February Rowling criticized Sky News and the Guardian  for referring to Scarlet Blake — a man who identifies as a woman — as female, during his recent trial and conviction for murdering Jorge Martin Carrero in 2021.

“Crime statistics are rendered useless if violent and sexual attacks committed by men are recorded as female crimes,” Rowling said. Over the past four years, U.K. police have referred 260 “females” — in actual fact men — to the Crown Prosecution Service to consider charging them with rape. They are referred to as women if the cases go to court. 

In a related case, Isla Bryson declared he was transitioning from being a man to a woman while awaiting trial on a double rape charge in Scotland. After his conviction last year, Bryson was sentenced to eight years in a women’s jail, before a public outcry forced authorities to move him to a men’s prison.