J.K. Rowling reveals past abuse and defends right to speak on trans issues

FILE PHOTO: Author J.K. Rowling poses for a portrait while publicizing her adult fiction book “The Casual Vacancy” at Lincoln Center in New York October 16, 2012. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri/File Photo

LONDON (Reuters) – Author J.K. Rowling defended her right to speak about trans issues without fear of abuse in an intensely personal essay in which she explained the complex reasons for her interest in the subject, revealing painful details from her past.

The Harry Potter creator has long been a target of criticism by trans activists, who have taken issue with some of her social media posts. At times, the criticism has taken the form of abusive language and threats of violence.

In a 3,600-word essay, published on her website, the writer explained in detail her research and beliefs on trans issues, and the concerns she has about how women’s rights and some young people’s lives were being impacted by some forms of trans activism.

She also revealed that she has wondered whether she might have sought to transition to being a man had she been born 30 years later, and that she was a survivor of domestic abuse and of sexual assault.

“I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one,” she wrote in the conclusion to her piece, describing herself as “extraordinarily fortunate”.

“I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex back-story, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

“All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.”

Reporting by Estelle Shirbon; editing by Stephen Addison


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