J.K. Rowling Stirs More Controversy With International Women's Day Message

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on Tuesday continued to court controversy with a tweet that referenced International Women's Day while also alluding to past comments she's made that have been called transphobic.

The latest remarks came as a response to a discussion about proposed amendments to Scotland's Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which would change current gender laws in the country to make legally changing gender easier for citizens. Rowling has been critical of the legislation, as well as of Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland and Leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Rowling first tweeted about the bill on Saturday, tagging Sturgeon in a message that warned about "likely negative consequences" the bill would have for women and girls, "especially the most vulnerable." She also posted a link to a story about a trans woman who was convicted in Scotland of sexually assaulting a 10-year-old girl in a supermarket bathroom in 2018.

Rowling also criticized the Labour Party of the United Kingdom for its stance on gender and equality in a Twitter thread on Tuesday, which happened to fall on International Women's Day (March 8). Rowling noted the holiday in a tweet that resulted in further social media backlash.

"Apparently, under a Labour government, today will become We Who Must Not Be Named Day," Rowling wrote.

Earlier on Tuesday, Anneliese Dodds, Chair of the Labour Party of the United Kingdom, was interviewed by the BBC. While discussing the Gender Recognition Bill, Dodds said there were "different definitions" about what constitutes a woman.

This led Rowling to tweet: "Someone please send the Shadow Minister for Equalities a dictionary and a backbone. #HappyInternationalWomensDay."

The author then posted a message of support for Joanna Cherry, a member of the U.K. Parliament who has been accused of transphobia herself, before making her comment about "We Who Must Not Be Named Day."

On Monday, Sturgeon was asked about Rowling's comments during a BBC radio interview.

"She's clearly free to express her opinion, as am I, as is everybody. But that's not what this debate is about," Sturgeon said, adding the Gender Recognition Bill is designed to make the legal process of changing genders "less traumatic and inhumane for trans people, one of the most stigmatized minorities in our society. It doesn't give trans people any more rights, doesn't give trans people one single additional right that they don't have right now. Nor does it take away from women any of the current existing rights that women have under the Equalities Act."

Accusations of transphobia have followed Rowling since June of 2020, though she has denied feeling negatively toward transgender people. She wrote in a tweet on June 6, 2020: "I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives."

Rowling then wrote an essay days later on gender issues later that further angered many people. She shared that essay on Twitter with a caption that read "TERF wars." (The term TERF, which stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist," was also mentioned by comedian Dave Chappelle when he controversially defended Rowling during a Netflix stand-up special in the fall.)

On Tuesday, a Twitter user asked Rowling if she wanted her "legacy to die on this hill."

"Yes, sweetheart. I'm staying right here on this hill, defending the right of women and girls to talk about themselves, their bodies and their lives in any way they damn well please," Rowling responded. "You worry about your legacy, I'll worry about mine."

A representative for Rowling declined to comment further when contacted by Newsweek.

J.K. Rowling
Author J.K. Rowling is again facing backlash for comments perceived by some to be transphobic. In this photo, Rowling is seen attending the press preview of the play "Harry Potter & The Cursed Child" at Palace Theatre on July 30, 2016, in London, England. Getty