JK Rowling responds as India Willoughby reports her to police over misgendering

Author JK Rowling has said the “police are going to be very busy” amid accusations she misgendered broadcaster India Willoughby.

In an interview with Byline TV, Willoughby, 58, a trans woman and broadcaster, told journalist Caolan Robertson that she had reported the Harry Potter author to the police for calling her a man.

Following the release of the filmed interview, Rowling, 58, said that Willoughby appeared to have forgotten the Forstater ruling, which “established that gender critical views can be protected in law”.

Maya Forstater successfully brought a case to the Employment Appeal Tribunal (EAT) to establish that gender-critical views are a protected philosophical belief under the Equality Act 2010 in 2021.

Rowling later reposted a clip of Robertson in which he said he had contacted the author for an interview as well.

She accused the journalist of calling Willoughby “him” twice in the video. The captions refer to Willoughby as “them” and Robertson has refuted Rowling’s claims.

Rowling also said in the post: “Extraordinary… The police are going to be very busy.”

On Sunday, the Harry Potter writer posted a criticism of trans women being allowed into women’s changing rooms on X and in the thread she spoke about Willoughby and said: “India didn’t become a woman. India is cosplaying a misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is.”

In the interview with Byline TV, Willoughby said of the posts: “JK Rowling has definitely committed a crime.

“I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman and she calls me a man.

“It’s a protected characteristic.

“And that is a breach of both the Equality Act and the Gender Recognition Act.

“She’s tweeted that out to 14 million followers.”

Under the Equality Act 2010, a person cannot discriminate against another because of a protected characteristic, such as gender reassignment.

The police and the Crown Prosecution Service (CPS) have both agreed the definition for identifying hate crimes includes a criminal offence that is perceived by the victim, or another, to be “motivated by hostility or prejudice,” based on a person’s “transgender identity or perceived transgender identity.”

Women of the Year Lunch and Awards 2023
India Willoughby said JK Rowling had ‘definitely committed a crime’ (Ian West/PA)

Willoughby added: “Well, I’ve been to the police and I’ve reported it as an issue.

“I contacted Northumbria Constabulary yesterday.”

“I have reported JK Rowling to the police for what she said,” she added.

“I don’t know if that’s going to be treated as a hate crime, malicious communications, but it’s a cut-and-dry offence as far as I’m concerned.

“And at the end of the day, it is a hate crime.

“Transgender identity is a protected characteristic, just as race is, just as sexuality is.

“I have reported JK Rowling to the police for what she said.

“And the equivalent of what JK Rowling said, calling a trans person a man deliberately… I am legally recognised as a woman and for JK Rowling to deliberately, and that is the key word, misgender me knowing who I am is grossly offensive.

“It is a hate crime and it should be treated just as somebody calling a black person the N-word or an Asian person the P-word.”

Rowling has claimed she was advised previously that she had a legal case against Willoughby for defamation and added that there is no law compelling her to refer to the TV personality as a woman.

She said on X: “Some time ago, lawyers advised me that not only did I have a clearly winnable case against India Willoughby for defamation, but that India’s obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment.

“I ignored this advice because I couldn’t be bothered giving India the publicity he so clearly craves.

Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore world premiere
JK Rowling arrives for the World Premiere of Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore (Ian West/PA)

“Nevertheless, we must all do our bit to combat hate, so India will be glad to know I’ve taken note of his homophobia, racism and humane stance on immigration.

“Nor have I forgotten India’s shocking transphobia.

“It appears to have slipped what passes for India’s mind that he’s previously called a fellow trans woman a man on this very site.

“Surprisingly for such an eminent legal authority, he appears to have forgotten that the Forstater ruling established that gender-critical views can be protected in law as a philosophical belief.

“No law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman.

“Aware as I am that it’s an offence to lie to law enforcement, I’ll simply have to explain to the police that, in my view, India is a classic example of the male narcissist who lives in a state of perpetual rage that he can’t compel women to take him at his own valuation.”

A Northumbria Police spokesperson said: “On Monday, March 4, we received a complaint about a post on social media.

“We are currently awaiting to speak to the complainant further.”

Downing Street declined to comment on the row, saying decisions were up to “operationally independent” police forces.