JKR’s Claims Part 1: The Maya Forstater Legal Case

Recently JK Rowling, author of Harry Potter, tweeted some transphobic statements and dogwhistles on Twitter that I have addressed here. After a few days silence she wrote a lengthy post trying to justify her position on her website. This is part 1 of my series addressing the claims in her piece. You can see the full thing here.

For people who don’t know: last December I tweeted my support for Maya Forstater, a tax specialist who’d lost her job for what were deemed ‘transphobic’ tweets. She took her case to an employment tribunal, asking the judge to rule on whether a philosophical belief that sex is determined by biology is protected in law. Judge Tayler ruled that it wasn’t.

Firstly, this plain misrepresentation is a common Gender Critical (read anti-trans) talking point. The claim usually goes that “someone lost their job for just for saying sex is real” or “for calling a man a man” or even “for thinking the wrong thing”, with the implication that someone just innocently spoke a thought aloud and then lost their livelihood, which is of course never true. The first sentence of my previous post was “Sex is real”, we talk about our colleagues every day, and we all think and say things that are wrong all the time, yet neither you or I are at risk of losing our jobs over it. This is like when you walk into a room with two children, one is crying and holding their eye, and the other says “all I did was put my arm out!”, you know that isn’t “all they did”. You can read the entire court case ruling here, or a (rather dry) legal review of the case by Oxford Human Rights Hub here, though the Judge’s conclusion is posted below. This was not a simple case of someone tweeting something innocuous in passing, it involved months of (still ongoing) campaigning to take away the rights that trans women have today for protection against the misogynistic sexism and sexual violence they face for being women, and a refusal to respect trans people for who they are.

Secondly, as I mentioned in my other post, this is again an attempt to create a false dichotomy between supporting trans rights and just agreeing with the entire field of biology. The position that the claimant takes isn’t the “belief that sex is determined by biology”, it is the the belief that everyone is put into box based on their genitals at birth: girl or boy, and that that is what they are for the rest of their lives. This is false and is not supported by science — biology is far more nuanced and complicated than that. Trans people, intersex people, doctors, experts and feminists aren’t arguing that sex isn’t real, they are arguing the opposite: that in reality it isn’t black and white.

Furthermore, in this case the claimant even went as far as saying that a trans man or woman who doesn’t out themselves as trans and refer to themselves exclusively as their birth sex — denying reality — shouldn’t be in a “position of responsibility around children”.

An extract from her version of the court transcript.

Trans people across the country are teachers, family doctors, sports coaches, scout leaders, mothers, fathers, aunties, uncles. You may even know a trans person and not be aware of it; once you have transitioned it’s often not even interesting to bring it up. The idea that trans people can’t be trusted around children because of who they are is an extremist and disgusting position, so is the idea that they are somehow lying by being themselves. Trans people are normal people, just the same as everyone else.

Full post | Part 1 | Part 2 | Part 3 | Part 4 | Part 5 | Part 6 | Part 7 | Part 8 | Part 9 | Part 10

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