JK Rowling podcast reveals how Harry Potter author U-turned on promise to respect pronouns

JK Rowling podcast reveals how Harry Potter author U-turned on promise to respect pronouns

JK Rowling’s stance on using people’s preferred pronouns has taken a U-turn since she first waded into the transgender debate.

While the author, 58, is now describing some trans women as men - even when they have legally changed their gender - she once promised to “always” respect chosen pronouns.

She made the claim in the podcast docuseries, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, where she explained why she became involved in transgender issues - despite being a cisgender, straight woman.

The revelation was made when the podcast host, Megan Phelps-Roper, asked Rowling if she could understand “the pain” her gender-critical views could cause trans women.

Rowling said this was something she very much could understand but with the caveat that it was in reference to “old-school transsexuals”.

The author elaborated by describing them as “people who’ve been through full sex reassignment because of profound gender dysphoria.”

She said: “I feel 100 per cent compassion for such people and I would absolutely respect their pronouns always have, always will, and would want, as I say them, to have comfortable, easy lives.”

JK Rowling’s stance on pronouns has taken a complete u-turn (Getty Images)
JK Rowling’s stance on pronouns has taken a complete u-turn (Getty Images)

However, just one year after the series of interviews with the author was released, she was the subject of a major trans rights storm when she misgendered a trans woman.

Commenting on Scotland’s new Hate Crime Act, Rowling referred to trans women as men before challenging the police to arrest her.

This was done via posting an X/Twitter list of trans women including the trans TV presenter, India Willoughby, who pointed out she is legally recognised as a female.

Many of the women on the list - which implied trans women are predators and The Independent has chosen not to share - had also gone through sex reassignment surgery.

The Harry Potter author became further embroiled in the online row with Willoughby when she referred to the Loose Women host as a “man” and with “he” pronouns.

JK Rowling believes she is defending women’s rights (@jk_rowling/Twitter)
JK Rowling believes she is defending women’s rights (@jk_rowling/Twitter)

The broadcaster, who holds a gender recognition certificate, was accused by Rowling of “cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is”.

Since then, the author has repeatedly used male pronouns when referring to trans women online, telling her millions of followers that her involvement in the issue stems from a desire to protect women’s rights.

She believed she was vindicated in this issue too when Scottish police decided to take ‘no further action’ when her tweets about transgender people were reported.

The author made the ‘arrest me’ challenge in light of the new Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act 2021, which came into force on 1 April.

It states that it is now a crime to “stir up hatred” based on protected characteristics like gender identity.

She later tweeted: “I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women – irrespective of profile or financial means - will be treated equally under the law.

“If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.”

One stance from the podcast which has remained consistent, however, is Rowling’s belief that transgender women are infringing upon the rights of cisgender women and girls.

The author said she’d never ‘forgive’ the Harry Potter actors who disagreed with her (David Fisher/Shutterstock)
The author said she’d never ‘forgive’ the Harry Potter actors who disagreed with her (David Fisher/Shutterstock)

She said: “I can understand that hurt [when trans women are misgendred]. The thing is women are the only group to my knowledge that are being asked to embrace members of their oppressor class, unquestioningly, with no caveat.

“This movement has argued, continues to argue, that a man may have had no surgery whatsoever, but if he feels himself to be a woman, the door of every woman’s bathroom, changing room, rape centre should be open to him.

“And I say no, I’m afraid I say no. And we are in a cultural moment where that individual’s hurt is being prioritised over the hurt of women whose rights and boundaries are under sustained assault, and I think it’s interesting to ask why the pain of one group is being prioritised over the pain of other groups.”

In one of her most recent posts on the subject, the author decided to describe trans women as “trans-identified men”.

Referring to transgender model Munroe Bergdorf, Rowling explained that even if trans women have sex reassignment surgery, cisgender women don’t have to agree that they are women.

The author wrote: “Femaleness has no relation whatsoever to how well an individual - man or woman - performs femininity to male standards. This is the very definition of misogyny.”

The revelation comes a day after Rowling told Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson to “save their apologies” as their relationships continue to sour over their positions on trans rights.

The author, who once had a close relationship with the pair when they starred in the film adaptations of her wizarding world novels, criticised the stars in the wake of a landmark review into gender treatment in the UK.

Rowling, who first faced a backlash from several key cast members when she shared controversial remarks about the trans community in 2020, has seen her relationship with stars deteriorate amid increasingly toxic debate.

The author criticised celebrities who supported the transitioning of children, suggesting she would not forgive Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson for their stances in the debate.

The Independent has reached out to representatives for JK Rowling for comment.