JK Rowling hits out at Scottish leader

JK Rowling has hit back at critics in another long essay championing women’s sex-based rights. The world-renowned author posted a picture of herself wearing a t-shirt that divided the internet. 

The slogan read “Nicola Sturgeon: Destroyer of Women’s Rights”. Rowling says she wore it to show “solidarity with women who were protesting outside the Scottish parliament against the proposed Gender Recognition Act reform bill”.

Some of the women, like Maya Forstater and Helen Joyce, have public profiles, but most of the women protesting do not. They also knew they might be taking a risk in demonstrating. It takes guts for Scottish women to stand up for their rights these days — not, I should emphasise, anywhere near the same guts as Iranian women are currently displaying, but guts nonetheless. They risk being targeted by activists, police complaints being made against them and even the threat of a spell in jail for posting what are seen as “transphobic” comments or images by their complainants.

Scotland’s first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, believes the protesters outside parliament on October 6 have nothing to complain about. The woman who calls herself a “real feminist” said to the BBC that her proposed new Gender Recognition Act “doesn’t give any additional rights to trans people nor does it take any rights away from women”.

Rowling strongly disagreed and went on to list many examples of women’s rights being trampled. She also took aim at Sturgeon’s proposed new law that will allow self-identification for trans people.

If Sturgeon’s new act passes into law, a person will be able to change their legal gender as long as they’ve lived in their acquired gender for three months, and made a statutory declaration that they intend to keep doing so. Remarkably, nobody seems able to explain what living in an acquired gender actually means, so how those granting certificates can judge whether the criteria has been met is anyone’s guess.

Soon, then, in Scotland, it may be easier to change the sex on your birth certificate than it is to change it on your passport. In consequence, intact males who are judged to have met the meagre requirements will be considered as “valid” and entitled to protections as those who’ve had full sex reassignment surgery, and more male-bodied individuals will assert more strongly a right to be in women’s spaces such as public bathrooms, changing rooms, rape support centres, domestic violence refuges, hospital wards and prison cells that were hitherto reserved for women.

Rowling didn’t hold back throughout the response, calling Sturgeon out for the myths she perpetuates around trans rights versus women’s sex-based rights. She highlighted three in particular.

“The first is that trans women are extremely vulnerable, far more so than biological women. This is in spite of the fact that no trans woman has been murdered in Scotland to date, whereas 112 women were murdered by men in Scotland between 2009 and 2019.

“The second argument is that men who transition, uniquely among all other categories of those born male, never harm women…... According to Jo Phoenix, professor of criminology at the University of Reading: “Sex is the single strongest predictor of criminality and criminalisation. …Violent crime is mostly committed by males . . . This remains the case regardless of stated gender identity.” The Ministry of Justice’s own figures show that there are proportionately more trans-identified men in prison for sexual offences than among incarcerated males taken as a whole.

“The third argument Sturgeon uses is that it’s transphobic to suggest any man would fraudulently claim a female identity. This claim is extraordinary. Nobody but the very naive can fail to be aware that predatory men are capable of going to great lengths to gain easy access to victims, and have often sought out professions or special status that offer camouflage for their activities. …. Incidentally, it seems that prison is the perfect space in which to discover your innate sense of self: half of Scottish prisoners currently claiming a trans identity only did so after conviction.”

While males who appropriate womanhood may be vulnerable in some ways, Rowling said that is not the point. Safeguarding for women and children should be a higher priority since they are proven time and again to be the most vulnerable.

Her conclusion was scathing and laid blame squarely at the feet of complicit politicians who will inevitably fail the safeguarding standard if they implement the proposed laws.

Rarely in politics is it easy to draw a direct line from a single policy decision to the harm it’s done, but in this case, it will be simple. If any woman or girl suffers voyeurism, sexual harassment, assault or rape in consequence of the Scottish government’s lax new rules, the blame will rest squarely with those at Holyrood who ignored safeguarding experts and women’s campaigners.

And nobody should be held to higher account than the first minister, the “real feminist” who’s riding roughshod over the rights of women and girls.

Binary spokeswoman Kirralie Smith agreed.

“Politicians in Australia must also be held to account,” she said.

“Daniel Andrews has made it a crime to challenge self-identification and other states are set to follow.

“It is imperative that we all stand together for the sake of sex-based rights and reality.

“Trans desires should not be granted at the expense of women and children’s rights and protections.”