J.K. Rowling Returns Human Rights Award Over ‘Conflict of Views’

The author is returning her award from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights group after Kerry Kennedy criticized her transphobic comments.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling is returning the Ripple of Hope award she received last year from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organization.

The decision comes after Rowling was criticized for her transphobic comments by Kerry Kennedy, the RFKHR organization’s president, in early August.

“Over the course of June 2020 — LGBTQ Pride Month — and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements,” Kennedy wrote in a statement on August 3, highlighting specific instances in which Rowling “wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity.”

While Kennedy claims that she has spoken to Rowling about her recent remarks, she concedes that 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.”

In just the law few months, Rowling has brushed off and denied the lived experiences of trans people and used her platform to spread misinformation and fear.

In June, she posted a series of outraged tweets, bemoaning an article’s use of inclusive language surrounding menstruation. The article in question used the phrase “people who menstruate,” which aims to acknowledge that cis women are not the only people who experience menstruation. Trans men and nonbinary people can also have periods.

During that same tweet storm, Rowling also falsely claimed that cis women are being erased and insisted that activists are suddenly claiming that sex isn’t real.

Just days later, she went on to publish a 3,700 word essay doubling down on her beliefs.

Since then, Rowling has come out against the use of hormone replacement therapy, citing junk science to claim that it is somehow dangerous, and has even falsely claimed that young people are somehow being forced to medically transition, using people who have detransitioned — oftentimes for unrelated health reasons — to justify her claims.

In July, she even voiced her opposition to the very existence of gender clinics, citing a paper which falsely equates transition-related care to conversion therapy.

In response to Kennedy’s condemnation of her comments, Rowling announced that she will be returning her award over a “very serious conflict of views” between herself and the RFKHR organization.

“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,” she said in a statement on her website.

Rowling also claimed that Kennedy “incorrectly implied” that she is transphobic, an accusation which she has rigorously fought against before.

Just last month, she threatened to sue a children’s news site for publishing an article about her transphobic tweets. Fearing legal action, the website issued an apology and quickly deleted the article.

Given Kennedy’s strong statement, however, it is unlikely that she will follow suit and apologize for her condemnation of Rowling’s recent transphobic comments and remarks.

“Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision,” Kennedy said.

“Women’s rights are not degraded by the recognition of trans rights. On the contrary: A commitment to human rights demands a commitment to combat discrimination in all its forms.”

Freelance writer covering culture, politics, and LGBTQ+ rights. catherineann.caruso@gmail.com

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