J.K. Rowling’s spat with, well, just about everyone but Prager University over her anti-trans comments and fear-mongering has taken a new turn this week. What was mostly online rhetoric and back-and-forth over her trans-exclusionary comments about gender has seen some impact on her work, mainly actors from the Harry Potter movie franchise and those inspired by her books actively distancing themselves from Rowling and denouncing her comments.
Some Harry Potter fan sites have denounced her as well, and comments from authors like Stephen King and others have made her return a humanitarian award she won in 2019. But the latest controversy about Rowling is something very different, as critics say her anti-trans thinking has now directly influenced her writing. Word spread over the weekend that Rowling’s latest book — notably published under her male pseudonym Robert Galibraith — has a notably anti-trans plotline, in which a murderous, cisgendered man dresses up like a woman to kill other women.
The Telegraph published a tepid review of the 900-page novel, Troubled Blood. The review notes both the plotline and that it is likely to further anger those already aware of Rowling’s concern trolling about similar issues regarding trans rights. As many pointed out online, one common trope of anti-trans logic is that men will pretend to be women to gain access to spaces like women’s restrooms in order to commit violent crimes. As word spread about the review, many people expressed their outrage online that Rowling had included these tropes in her work.
“The meat of the book is the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer.”
Transphobic “Silence of the Lambs” tropes! How original! 🙄
— Helen🧜🏻♀️ (@mimmymum) September 13, 2020
The news may actually explain why some at the publishing house working on the new book reportedly threatened to stop working on it earlier this year when she began making a series of comments online that drew considerable attention. Given the actual plot and material in the book, their frustration makes more sense. And social media was soon flooded with critiques of the work, as well as sadness and frustration that Rowling continues to reinforce stereotypes many in the LGBTQ+ community find harmful.
Lol. She literally has to make up stories to justify her position. Her obsession with us is so strange. I don't even think your standard issue transphobe puts this much effort into it. https://t.co/0r9Cgv0XK3
— Mona Lisa Needsa Treatsa (@kat_blaque) September 14, 2020
the entire internet: JK Rowling is violently transphobic
JK Rowling: bet. https://t.co/YtLYeBpZJT
— ceo of antifa (@doinkpatrol) September 14, 2020
A lot of people had Harry Potter references to make.
In Harry Potter terms, JK Rowling has become Cornelius Fudge, unwilling to believe she’s been wrong all this time and doubling down on her transphobia. pic.twitter.com/vwQohwMErD
— Washington Post TikTok Guy (@davejorgenson) September 14, 2020
jk rowling: https://t.co/V6apR2rV5s
— harry potter out of context & incorrect (@outofcntexthp) September 14, 2020
jk rowling COULD have just never downloaded twitter and left our childhoods in tact but here we are
— eleanor (@snitchery) September 14, 2020
Some just had very online jokes to make.
RIP Jk Rowling, died tripping over her own ego and bouncing down every stair in Edinburgh like a cartoon character
— Siobhan Thompson, mysterious European heiress (@vornietom) September 14, 2020
The reaction online was so intense that Twitter had to issue a correction when a hashtag, #RIPJKRowling, started trending. The site actually wrote “No, JK Rowling isn’t dead” under it on its What’s Happening board.
And as many pointed out, this isn’t the first time the author has been accused of anti-trans writing in the series. Troubled Blood is the fifth book in series called Cormoran Strike, which has had other instances critics have pointed to as unfairly depicting trans characters. In the series’ second book, The Silkworm, a trans character is described as “unstable and aggressive” and stalks Strike, eventually trying to stab him. There are other comments made by other characters about Pippa, the trans character, that several critics found offensive.