JK Rowling is Going to Kill Someone.
This sounds overly dramatic. It isn't. No, JK Rowling isn't shouting "Avada Kedavra" at people walking down the street, what she's doing is far more sinister: spreading anti-transgender hate online to an audience of over 14 million Twitter users. Using her skills as a writer, she doesn't phrase any of these tweets with hateful language or cursing, she phrases them as feminist rallying cries coming from a place of love and concern. She shares misleading statistics and false claims about the illegitimacy of trans identities and lifts up token non-straight people who agree with her claims and are oblivious to the irony of the way she is using them. For someone who isn't highly educated and passionate about these topics, it's easy to look through the information she presents and take it as the rational fact she presents it as, and this is more dangerous than we know.
I'm not interested in sharing her messages here. Perhaps at a later time, I'll write an article specifically detailing what's wrong about each and every one of her hateful tweets. For now, I'm going to focus on why what she's doing is so dangerous. If you haven't heard, she recently announced that she's working on a new book about a cisgender (not transgender) man who dresses up as a woman and kills people. This fits in perfectly with her narrative that trans women do not belong in spaces meant for all women. JK isn't the originator of this argument by any means, it's conservatives' longest-standing argument against support for the trans community. "If we let transgender people use the right bathrooms, then bad men are going to dress up as women and follow your daughters into bathrooms!" This claim has been proven to be untrue, (https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/publications/ma-public-accommodations/) so if you have no existing statistics or stories to scare people onto your transphobic team, what's the next best thing? Just make up a story, write a book about it, and sell it to a global audience. Anyone who reads or hears about this book, especially those who don't personally know a transgender person and are still deciding how they feel, will have these arguments subtly slip into their brain, consciously or otherwise.
How do these unconscious biases manifest? With countless murders of trans people, especially trans women of color, who are simply trying to exist. Those who murder them rarely face consequences, and how could they when states have laws like "trans panic" that literally allow people to blame a violent action on someone's gender identity and get away with it. (https://www.americanbar.org/groups/crsj/publications/member-features/gay-trans-panic-defense/) Every year the number of trans people murdered in cold blood globally grows exponentially, and this is because so many people have this feeling deep down that trans people are bad, scary people that are coming for them and their bathrooms and their families and their rights. These feelings aren't taught in schools. They aren't trained explicitly. They're learned through seeing countless jokes about trans people cheating in sports on South Park, or through having a billionaire author tell tens of millions of people that trans people want to invade women's spaces and use them to murder people.
Transgender people don't only have to fear the biased strangers in the world around them, either. Many of them have to fear their own families. The terror of coming out is a feeling well known to many in the LGBTQ+ community. We fear being berated, abused, kicked out, or worse like so many other trans and LGBTQ+ people around us, and telling our families is sometimes the catalyst for a lot of that. It's no wonder that trans youth are almost four times as likely to consider or attempt suicide. JK Rowling used her platform to spread false information about how parental support impacts these statistics, and instead spread information about how dangerous it is to allow young people to make decisions about their own bodies and their own transitions. She is encouraging her millions of followers to block their children from receiving life-saving medical support. Multiple studies have proven that parental support and access to transition resources are drastic reducers of anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts, but people don't read studies. They read tweets by famous people they love, and they slowly internalize those tweets that are presented so kindly and so passionately that they couldn't possibly be false! All of a sudden a year down the line someone's child tells them they want to start testosterone, but remembering the wise words of acclaimed author JK Rowling, they proudly say no and assure their child they'll thank them in a few years when all of this goes away, just like JK Rowling said it would! I'm not going to write the rest of this story, and it's not a guarantee that it will end as I'm implying, but I can tell you it's pretty likely that it's not going to end well.
If it sounds like I'm upset or angry as I write this, you're almost right. I'm furious and I'm terrified. I'm furious that someone with this much hate to share has such a huge platform with which to share it, and I'm terrified of the consequences this is going to have. If you're wondering what you can do, the answer is to fight this hate and miseducation with love and learning. If you have trans people in your circle, reach out to them and tell them you appreciate them. It's been months of watching someone many of us idolized turn around and tell us that we are dangerous and don't deserve to participate in society and that is exhausting. Then, educate yourself. Watch Pose or Disclosure on Netflix, read a book or an article by a trans author, hire a trans speaker to come in and speak to your employees if you have that power, do whatever you can to uplift the voices that deserve to be heard and stop supporting those that seek to silence them.
And if you're reading this and you felt like you agreed with what she was saying, or you used to hold hate in your heart or misinformation in your brain, even if somehow you are JK Rowling reading this article, it is not too late for you. It is never, ever, too late to choose love. If you are ready to learn, I am ready to teach. Nothing is more damaging to a human heart than hate, and there is no better way to heal that then to learn to love what you hated most. I don't hate you. But I'm scared.
This article was written by Ben Greene and originally published on LinkedIn on September 14th, 2020