Maybe she was misunderstood, I told myself.
But. She. Meant. It.
In her manifesto on #translives yesterday, JK Rowling solidified her stance on #transwomen, and #transgender folx in general, reminding her audience that humans aren’t a dimorphic species and she goes on to cite research that “the UK has experienced a 4400% increase in girls being referred for transitioning treatment.” Never does she allude to the possibility that transitioning is becoming more common due to the increase of people seeking help for #genderdysphoria and the lessening (but not eradication definitely) of stigma around gender dysphoria (due, in part, to positive representation in film and television, such as @PoseonFX..nudge nudge, @StevenCanals). She cautions against the replacement of biological sex with gender.
As a qualitative researcher, I know there’s a danger in deviating from your participants’ lived experience. It’s their experience. Not yours. You continually have to identify and bracket your beliefs and positionality to minimize the impact of said positionality on your research. Here, Rowling centers her own experience and interpretation, and, in doing so, erases the pain and experiences of transgender, gender non-conforming/resistant, non-binary folx across the world.
Celebrities who have benefited from Rowling’s work, Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne, among others, have criticized Rowling for what her words are: erasure. Her words question the validity of the experiences of people she’ll never meet. While she’s attempted to direct message people who support centering biological sex over gender identity, people she’s publicly supported on social media, she doesn’t really mention ever trying to understand the experience of transgender folx outside of her immediate circle. Although, yes, the #livedexperiences of others shouldn’t be on display for your education, I think there are many who would be willing to chat.
As a non-binary person, I attempt to resist expectations placed upon me. I move through a world that is divided based on gender (...and race, and socioeconomic status, and religion...)--where clothes are labeled “men’s” and “women’s.” Where there are certain stores you can shop in, and others you can’t. Certain hairstyles and jewelry. What I should wear, how I should look. It’s hard, and I often feel like I let myself down when I revert to gender norms, against what a #nonbinary person “should” look like. But, when someone like Rowling publicly peppers our experiences with doubt (“are you sure you feel that way? Lots of people detransition. I once thought I could have transitioned to the son my father wanted me to be”), the pain is exponentially worse. Stop causing pain. Start listening, empathizing, and supporting.
If you’re in need of help, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255) or the Trans Lifeline at 877-565-8860.