JK Rowling has said she is returning an award given to her by the Kennedy family, amid the ongoing debate about her views on trans issues.
The Harry Potter author was accused of being transphobic after she posted a message on Twitter earlier this year objecting to the use of the word "people” to describe those who menstruate, instead of the word "women".
She later denied she was transphobic and released a lengthy blog post defending her position, but has still been hit by a backlash.
Rowling’s views were recently criticised by Kerry Kennedy, president of the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation (RFKHR), which presented her with the Ripple Of Hope award last year.
Kennedy claimed that Rowling had used her gifts “to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community”.
Rowling has now said she feels she has no option other than to give the award back.
Addressing the issue in a new blog post on her website, Rowling said Kennedy’s statement “incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.
“As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community,” she said.
“Like the vast majority of the people who’ve written to me, I feel nothing but sympathy towards those with gender dysphoria, and agree with the clinicians and therapists who’ve got in touch who want to see a proper exploration of the factors that lead to it.”
Rowling said since she first joined the public debate on gender identity and women’s rights, she has received “thousands of private emails of support” from people affected by these issues “both within and without the trans community”.
“Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me,” she continued.
“These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women.
“None of them hate trans people.”
Explaining her decision to return the Ripple Of Hope, she said: “In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple Of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year.
“I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”