JK Rowling brought about a revolution with the Harry Potter series. But the celebrated author who left an everlasting footprint on the childhood of millions also has a not so celebrated side.
Rowling was a single mother struggling with her own demons of divorce and depression. She conceptualized the story of the boy wizard stuck in a cupboard in that state of mind. It was published after multiple rejections. The rest, as they say, is history. Nearly two decades, seven books, eight movies, later, the Harry Potter story still resonates. It beats through the hearts of those who proudly call themselves Potterheads.
However, then came the rambling of Rowling’s problematic views regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Her initial murmur against the trans community took an ugly turn when Rowling decided to go full monty on Twitter.
- The queen of magic, Harry Potter author JK Rowling, turned an entire generation towards the books that became a legacy
- But her transphobia is now putting the fandom and her own legacy in danger
- She has again gone on an anti-trans rant, this time during the pride month.
Rowling Rants: The tweet that triggered
Rowling’s popularity soared not just because of the series that she wrote, but also because of her views. She is a self-proclaimed liberal feminist who keeps reminding us that she works tirelessly for charities as well. But with great power comes great responsibility and that’s where she has fallen from grace.
As a literary, JK Rowling is obligated to use her words responsibly and wisely. She didn’t. She nosedived into the world of LGBTQ+ as a white, straight, and privileged woman with a convoluted set of knowledge that produces extremely problematic views. Case in point: Rowling’s recent Twitter fiasco.
JK Rowling recently reposted an article, pointing out that people who menstruate are well, called women.
Going a step beyond, she elaborated on her criticism and defended her stance in a series of tweets. But her words made it all the more worse.
Several of the Twitterati pointed out how problematic her views were. Buzzfeed journalist Scott Bryan was amongst them.
Gender vs Sex: What JK Rowling gets wrong
The term ‘people who menstruate’ has been going around for quite some time instead of ‘women who menstruate.’ The reason behind this is a simple fact that gender and sex are different.
“Your sex is what you are assigned at birth, and your gender is the way that you experience your own sense of gender identity. It’s important [that we recognize] very clearly that trans women are women and that trans men are men. … and that we respect people for the way that they identify and live their own gender.”Amit Paley, CEO of The Travel Project, a suicide prevention organization for the LGBTQ+ community
Thus, using the term ‘people who menstruate’ is more inclusive. Many who have been assigned the sex of women at birth and are menstruating, may not identify sexually as women. Also, many women do not menstruate owing to different health reasons, throughout their lives. On the other hand, Trans Women, whose assigned gender is male at birth, cannot menstruate but can experience psychosomatic period-like symptoms while undergoing hormone replacement therapy (HRT).
Watch: The Difference Between Sex and Gender
Gender is an extremely fluid concept, and thus the more neutral it is, the better and more inclusive world we will create. However, the social media controversy at hand involving the Harry Potter author isn’t even of serious consequence. In fact, it’s quite the opposite, but we’ll come to that later.
Not the first time JK went TERF
This is not the first time JK Rowling has gone completely TERF. TERF refers to Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist, a self-explanatory term. A 2019 Vox article by Katelyn Burns cited references to some extremely transphobic tweets that Rowling had liked. The author was also severely criticized for coming out in defense of a transphobic woman. Furthermore, the woman in question was kicked out of her job for her inappropriate comments against the community.
Unfortunately for the Potterheads and the entire community which has grown up to be inclusive, Rowling is showing no signs of redemption. She’s hell-bent on proving her ‘sex is real’ point. And in this context, it quite literally missed the point.
The Actual Issue – People who menstruate are real
When JK Rowling went on her TERF mode, she unwittingly took away the focus from the real issue which the article that triggered her rant talked about. She may not be abreast of the facts, but the truth is that many of the approximate 1.8 billion people who menstruate around the world, that include girls and women but also gender non-binary persons, are at grave menstrual health risk due to the pandemic’s impact. Lockdowns across the world have deprived them of materials and spaces where they can be privy to their body’s changes. Add to that the stigma around menstruation and transition to this equation, and you come out with a different view of the magnitude of gender inequality.
Watch: Let’s discuss the Periods that do not stop during the COVID-19 lockdown
People who menstruate exist, and no, there is no one term for that. We just have to work towards creating a better and more equal world for them.