J.K. Rowling Slammed as a 'TERF' for Supporting Researcher Who Tweeted 'Men Cannot Change Into Women'

Author J.K. Rowling launched a social media firestorm Thursday, sparking accusations of transphobia with her most recent tweet.

Rowling took to her Twitter account for the first time in over a month with what appeared to be a message in support of Maya Forstater, a former researcher at the Centre for Global Development, a non-profit think tank. Forstater's contract with the center was not renewed following anti-trans tweets she posted to social media including one that stated that "men cannot change into women." On Wednesday, a judge dismissed Forstater's protected speech claim, finding her to have "absolutist" views that could create an "intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment."

Rowling defended Forstater on Twitter following the ruling. "Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill," she wrote, setting off a deluge of anger and disappointment from fans of her Harry Potter series as well as LGBTQ and trans-rights supporters.

The 54-year-old writer was quickly labeled as a "bigot" by disappointed fans who said that her books "inspired millions of kids to be good to each other."

"I'm not usually one to rely on your books for political analogy, because they're for children, obviously, but I think it's appropriate to make an exception in this case: You've just joined the Death Eaters," comedian Avery Edison quipped about Rowling's views on the case, calling the Harry Potter writer a "TERF," or trans-exclusionary radical feminist, a term popularized by writer Viv Smythe in 2008.

"My daughter, who is trans, is a big fan of yours. It breaks my heart to see you post something indicating that discrimination against her is perfectly fine behaviour for an employee," wrote LGBTQ community advocate Amanda Jette Knox in response to Rowling's tweet. "The world's most credible medical orgs affirm trans people. Please catch up."

Others called Rowling's words "unacceptable" and encouraged to reflect on her views, while others took the opportunity to educate the novelist on the scientific evidence that contradicts her message.

"The significance of this judgement should not be down played." Peter Daly, the principal employment lawyer at the firm representing Forstater told Newsweek in an emailed statement. "Had our client been successful, she would have established in law protection for people—on any side of this debate—to express their beliefs without fear of being discriminated against."

A spokesperson for Rowling declined to comment on the latest social media backlash against the writer. Thursday's incident, however, is not the first time Rowling—who was once praised for her daring decision to reveal that one of the main characters in Harry Potter was gay—has been accused of transphobia. Last year, Rowling took heat on social media after liking a tweet using the term "men in dresses" which many had interpreted as being a jab at trans women.

"It was a mistake," a spokesperson for Rowling told Newsweek at the time. "I'm afraid J.K. Rowling had a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favourited by holding her phone incorrectly!"

J.K. Rowling
"Harry Potter" Novelist J.K. Rowling spotted on the red carpet of the RFK Ripple of Hope Awards in New York City on December 12, 2019. Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images
J.K. Rowling Slammed as a 'TERF' for Supporting Researcher Who Tweeted 'Men Cannot Change Into Women' | Culture