JK Rowling says ‘I’m sick of this s---’ after transgender cat killer is called a woman

JK Rowling
JK Rowling has been outspoken about her gender-critical beliefs - Andrew Milligan/PA Wire

JK Rowling has criticised a transgender cat killer who murdered a stranger being described as a woman as it emerged judges have been told to refer to defendants by the pronouns they want.

Scarlet Blake, a 26-year-old who was born male but identifies as female, was sentenced to life in prison with a 24-year minimum term at Oxford Crown Court on Monday for murdering a stranger.

Blake was referred to as a woman throughout the trial and in some media reports.

Rowling, who has been vocal about her gender-critical beliefs and views on transgender issues, spoke out after Sky News described Blake as a woman.

Sharing a video on Twitter, the Harry Potter author wrote: “I’m sick of this s---. This is not a woman. These are #NotOurCrimes.”

Murderer Scarlet Blake
Scarlet Blake was born a man but identifies as a woman - Thames Valley Police/PA Wire

It comes as it emerged that guidance for judges tells them to “respect” the gender identity of those who appear in the courts.

The guidance, which features in the Equal Treatment Bench Book produced by the Judicial College, says: “It should be possible to respect a person’s gender identity and their present name for nearly all court and tribunal purposes, regardless of whether they have obtained legal recognition of their gender by way of a Gender Recognition Certificate.”

It also tells judges that a person’s gender status should not be disclosed unless it is necessary and relevant to the legal proceedings.

The Judicial College is facing a backlash over the “dangerous” guidelines and lawyers and MPs have called for them to be reviewed.

Campaigners have warned that the advice could lead to public perceptions and the statistics on women’s crime being skewed.

‘Ideological and dangerous’

Naomi Cunningham KC, a barrister in discrimination law at Outer Temple Chambers, told The Telegraph: “This advice on personal pronouns and identity in the Benchbook is ideological, dangerous and anti-women.

“The Judicial College should review it or risk members of the public losing confidence in our judicial system.”

She added: “The Equal Treatment Benchbook asserts that it is ‘a matter of common courtesy’ to use the personal pronoun and name preferred by people with a trans identity, and implies that this should only rarely give way to the rights of witnesses to tell the truth.

“No legal authority is given for this claim which, if you made it in court, you’d expect any competent judge to poke hard with pointed questions.

“But because it features in official guidance for judges, the risk is it slips past their natural scepticism, and becomes something those in court ‘just know’.”

Sir Jacob Rees-Mogg, the former business secretary, also called for court guidance to be rewritten.

He said: “I don’t mind guidance during a trial saying this before they are proved guilty.

“But when guilt has been established, you don’t owe them that level of courtesy.

“I agree with JK Rowling that this person is a man.”

Richard Garside, director of the Centre for Crime and Justice Studies, said: “If what we are saying is in order to maintain the dignity of the courtroom by using pronouns that make people feel more comfortable, that’s justifiable.

“But this gets complicated when it is suggested that witnesses and victims also use these pronouns.

“There have been notorious cases of rape victims being forced to refer to rapists as ‘she’.

“What they are doing is compelling people to ascribe to a belief system they may not agree with.”

Lawyers and campaigners have also said Blake’s crime must not be recorded as committed by a woman.

The Ministry of Justice relies on data from the police as to whether to record the crime in official statistics as male or female.

Gender box left blank

Neither the MoJ nor Thames Valley Police could confirm on Tuesday night how it has been recorded.

In the Law Pages, a record of court listings, the conviction was noted with the gender box left blank.

Rowling said that “crime statistics are rendered useless if violent and sexual attacks committed by men are recorded as female crimes”.

Throughout the trial, the killer was referred to as “she” by Judge Chamberlain, who told jurors to consider the defendant’s “stature”, but insisted that “the fact she is trans on its own has no particular relevance to this case”.

Blake had live-streamed a video in which a cat was strangled, skinned and dissected before its body was put in a blender.

After the dissection, Blake tells the camera in a monosyllabic tone: “One day I want to learn how to do this to a person.”

Months later, Blake hit Jorge Martin Carreno over the back of the head with a vodka bottle in July 2021 and choked him before pushing him into the River Cherwell, where he drowned. Blake will be sent to a men’s prison for the murder.

But Jane Fae, a transgender activist, told BBC Radio 2’s Jeremy Vine Show that prisons should be divided “by seriousness of crime so all the murderers, male and female, go to a particular prison”, rather than by gender.

Dr Jane Hamlin, president emeritus of the Beaumont Society which is Britain’s longest-standing transgender support group, said: “I don’t suppose anyone would want to be associated with the horrific crimes committed by Scarlet Blake, which are deplored by everyone whoever they are – particularly in the trans community.

“We are all shocked by the news, but her gender is irrelevant to the situation. It is unfortunate – but not surprising – that some in the media use Blake’s crimes as a means of justifying their prejudice against trans people in general.”

A spokesman for the judiciary said: “The Equal Treatment Bench Book is created by judges for judges, providing important information, context and advice to support them.

“It is regularly updated and amended as necessary to reflect changing circumstances and to incorporate the most up-to-date societal knowledge.”