Opinion

JK Rowling

I have a hard time with cisgender people who had a period in childhood where they thought being the opposite sex might be nice and who now think this has given them some deep insight into what it means to be trans. This is about as convincing as a white person saying, “I like hip-hop and Denzel Washington so I know what it’s like to be black in America.”

People who tell this story about themselves often use it as an example of why they couldn’t possibly be transphobic. “How could I be? I once had transgender feelings too!” Then, smug in their knowledge of trans lives, they use their childhood confusion as an argument against trans kids transitioning. Or imply that they were once trans too, but look at me now!

Shut up. Please. You don’t know what you’re talking about.

When I read that JK Rowling had a childhood  transition story of her own, I rolled my eyes. Of course she did, and true to form, she used it in a subtle way to justify the repression of trans people.

Rowling talked about her girlhood and how easy it is now to read about transgender issues online, adding she “could have been persuaded to turn myself into the son my father had openly said he’d have preferred” had she had the same trans materials available to her that are available now. Yeah, right. It’s strange how cisgender people seem to think changing gender is so simple anyone could do it.

Rowling told the story to show her support for young girls, but framed it with a transphobic trope that suggested trans people were a threat to them. It was manipulative and dishonest, but consistent with Rowling’s attempt to portray trans women as a danger to cisgender females.

Rowling was not and is not trans. Her “I coulda been one too” anecdote is a fantasy worthy of Harry Potter, but the thought process behind it is transparent. Because she does not accept that someone born with a male body can be a woman, she employed it to suggest that trans people are confused and don’t know who they are. She may think it original, but it’s a recurring theme in the transphobe canon.

Needless to say, Rowling claims she’s not a transphobe. She just reveals herself every time she opens her mouth.