Plot twist
LOOKING ASKANCE - Joseph Gonzales (The Freeman) - December 22, 2019 - 12:00am

J.K. Rowling is mixed up. On one hand, she stands for many principled beliefs, like racial harmony and sex equality. Look at how racially diverse the Harry Potter series is, with black and Indian characters (I recall Lavender very vividly), strong heroines (McGonagall and Hermione), and even villainesses.

She even threw her fans a hint Dumbledore was gay. So she’s pretty much a strong force for the diversity and inclusion movement.

She also has no hesitation tweeting to her considerable fan base about the many faults of Donald Trump, lambasting him for his sexist, racist, views.

However, she has now come under fire for being a TERF (Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminist). A feminist who cannot deal with transgender people, excluding them from her radical defense of women’s rights. Even though transgender women are supposed to be considered women.

This stemmed from a court case in England, where a woman named Maya Forstater lost her case after her employer didn’t renew her contract. She spouted unpalatable views about transwomen, and so when her contract expired, she was sent packing. Maya didn’t take that as a cue for a graceful exit and sued her employer.

Judge James Taylor disagreed, saying she wasn’t going to get relief from court. Their society already decreed that if a transwoman got a gender recognition certificate, that trans has the rights of a woman.

But Maya stuck to her view that a trans woman was still a man: - “When questioned during live evidence [Forstater] stated that biological males cannot be women. She considers that if a trans woman says she is a woman that is untrue, even if she has a Gender Recognition Certificate. On the totality of [Forstater’s] evidence it was clear that she considers there are two sexes, male and female, there is no spectrum in sex and there are no circumstances whatsoever in which a person can change from one sex to another, or to being of neither sex.”

Zero tolerance there, so Taylor wrote: “[Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. [That] approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

So where does Rowling come in? She tweeted: “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

Here comes controversy. The first few lines seemed like it was going to support some basic freedom rights, but the ending didn’t come out the way I expected. Human rights campaigners were disappointed, to say the least. GLAAD said: "J.K. Rowling, whose books gave kids hope that they could work together to create a better world, has now aligned herself with an anti-science ideology that denies the basic humanity of people who are transgender”.

So, Rowling. What do we do? Where do we start? We should probably explore your beliefs as to how “sex” is indeed “real”, or whether it’s a result of genes and hormones and physiology and psychology. Or perhaps, a set of societal structures evolving around genitalia and perceived roles of binary characterizations. That might take up as much time as reading the entire Potter series all over again. Or as fast as casting the spell: “Lumos!”

This is a developing story, so the jury is still out on whether Rowling will end up a villainess.

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