Home/Rod Dreher/J.K. Rowling Takes On Big Trans

J.K. Rowling Takes On Big Trans

J.K. Rowling (Photo by Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images)

Glory, glory hallelujah, the pop culture big guns (well, big gun) have arrived!

What she’s talking about is this outrageous ruling from a UK employment tribunal:

A researcher who lost her job at a thinktank after tweeting that transgender women cannot change their biological sex has lost a test case because her opinions were deemed to be “absolutist”.

In a keenly anticipated judgment that will stir up fresh debate over transgender issues, Judge James Tayler, an employment judge, ruled that Maya Forstater’s views did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief”.

Forstater, 45, a tax expert, was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development (CGD), an international thinktank that campaigns against poverty and inequality. Her contract at the charitable organisation, which is based in Washington and London, was not renewed in March after a dispute over publicising her views on social media.

She was accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language in tweets opposing government proposals to reform the Gender Recognition Act to allow people to self-identify as the opposite sex.

More:

Forstater has been supported by Index on Censorship. Its chief executive, Jodie Ginsberg, has said previously: “From what I have read of [Forstater’s] writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share – that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender.”

But in a 26-page judgment released late on Wednesday, Tayler dismissed her claim. “I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

Not worthy of respect in a democratic society. Orwell wept. One more excerpt:

In response to the ruling, Forstater said: “I struggle to express the shock and disbelief I feel at reading this judgment, which I think will be shared by the vast majority of people who are familiar with my case.

“My belief … is that sex is a biological fact, and is immutable. There are two sexes, male and female. Men and boys are male. Women and girls are female. It is impossible to change sex. These were until very recently understood as basic facts of life by almost everyone.

“… This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no-platforming and economic punishment.

This is exactly what LGBT activists want here in the US: people like Maya Forstater — who doesn’t appear to be any kind of conservative, but rather a feminist — to be fired and silence. What is it going to take to wake people up? This is a totalitarian movement. It honest to God is. It has colonized the minds of the liberal establishment, like the judge here.

Maybe the fact that J.K. Rowling has come out foursquare in support of Maya Forstater will move the debate. James Kirkup writes in The Spectator:

But the broader effect of the Forstater case is that issues of sex and gender, the implications of transgenderism for society and individuals, are now going to be talked about by more people.

Because JK Rowling, lovely JK Rowling, is involved. JK Rowling who has 14 million followers on Twitter and a good claim to being one of the most popular and even beloved women in the world today. And as a result, people are going to talk about this, and about her.

I do not underestimate the courage it has taken for Rowling to do this. It’s easy to say ‘well, she’s got billions and a huge platform – what took her so long?’ but I think that’s unfair. With that fame comes pressure and scrutiny that the rest of us cannot imagine. By entering this arena, she is exposing herself to significant risks, volumes of criticism beyond anything most of humanity will ever experience. I applaud her.

Words matter, and with just a few words, JK Rowling has changed the gender debate for the better. The tide is turning, the waves are getting bigger. Thank you, JK.

Yes, thank her to the stars and back! Rowling is no kind of conservative. She has been quite vocal in her support for the Labour Party, and for gay rights. But she is a feminist, and she is drawing a line here, boldly so. If somebody of her pop cultural influence takes this stand, maybe, just maybe, the woke zombies of the mainstream media will have to listen.

The rest of us had better listen. Maya Forstater was fired — fired! — simply for saying that men born male are men and women born female are women. The other day, Twitter suspended the account of the trans-skeptical website 4thWaveNow because it sent out a tweet containing the words “natal male.” I’m not kidding: to speak of a biological fact on Twitter is to risk your account. This is how totalitarian this movement is. Big T takes no prisoners. But now, they’re going to have to try to roll over the author who inhabits the collective imagination of an entire generation.

about the author

Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative. He has written and edited for the New York Post, The Dallas Morning News, National Review, the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, and the Baton Rouge Advocate. Rod’s commentary has been published in The Wall Street Journal, Commentary, the Weekly Standard, Beliefnet, and Real Simple, among other publications, and he has appeared on NPR, ABC News, CNN, Fox News, MSNBC, and the BBC. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife Julie and their three children. He has also written four books, The Little Way of Ruthie Leming, Crunchy Cons, How Dante Can Save Your Life, and The Benedict Option.

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