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J.K. Rowling Used to Want to Debate Gender. Now She Just Insults Trans People

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The once-beloved children’s author seems unable to think about anything besides policing gender

“You’ve seen nothing yet,” tweeted Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling on Sunday. She was responding to another X user who had told her, “Your downfall is so sad,” a reaction to her continued attacks on transgender people. Rowling promised that worse was in store. “Wait til I hit rock bottom. It’s going to be spectacular,” she wrote.

This prediction, and much of what Rowling has said of late, are altogether in keeping with what denizens of X (formerly Twitter) refer to as “Meltdown May,” a month-long season when, for whatever reason, online personalities seem more inclined to self-destructive behavior. Yet for Rowling this is just the next stage of a mounting extremism that has come to overshadow her groundbreaking writing career.

Since 2018, Rowling has shown an affinity for anti-trans influencers and helped to stoke panic over changing norms around gender identity and language. Notably, she used to couch her criticism in a “live and let live” frame, cautioning that while she had no problem with trans individuals per se, she feared that trans women posed a privacy and safety risk to cisgender women in female-only spaces. When defending a U.K. researcher whose employment contract was not renewed at a think tank after her online anti-trans activism came to light in 2019, Rowling still prefaced her supportive tweet by saying that people should dress and identify however they want while living their “best life in peace and security.” In 2020, she claimed to “know and love trans people.”

In the past year, that note of tolerance has vanished from Rowling’s public comments on trans women — and she now tweets about little else, whether proclaiming that she’d go to prison before using their correct pronouns or simply misgendering specific individuals online because she can. The recent “downfall” reply that irked her was in response to her insistence that Lucy Clark, the first openly trans soccer manager in the top English women’s divisions of the sport, is actually a “bloke.” Using her massive platform to direct hate and harassment at Clark, a woman who has done nothing but succeed professionally with the support of her family and team, struck many on social media as cruel. One of Rowling’s tweets misgendering Clark racked up more than 400,000 likes and nods of approval from far-right accounts including @EndWokeness.

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