JK Rowling is facing criticism after describing hormones and surgery for transgender people as “a new kind of conversion therapy”.
The Harry Potter author posted a series of tweets claiming young people with mental health problems were “being shunted towards” medical transitions, comparing this to the widely condemned practice of gay conversion therapy.
Others, including actress Jameela Jamil and transgender model Munroe Bergdorf, have criticised the tweets and described them as “condescending” and “transphobic”.
While @jk_rowling is condescendingly tweeting from her mansion, black trans women are fighting for our lives. Trans kids are at home scared and navigating unsupportive environments and the government are debating our civil rights.
J.K. Rowling, you are not helping us.
— Protect Trans Kids / BLM ✊🏾 (@MunroeBergdorf) July 5, 2020
Rowling has caused controversy a number of times for her tweets on transgender people, in which she has criticised the use of the phrase “people who menstruate” and suggested that trans women could pose a threat to cisgender women.
The author, who said she had battled mental health issues herself, wrote on Sunday: “Many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests.
“Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”
Transgender activists and allies have pointed out that trans people face a long process when trying to transition and surgery is currently only available to those over 18.
Research published by Sky News in November found that transgender people in the UK wait an average of two years to receive a first appointment at a gender identity clinic after being referred by their GP.
Rowling also pointed to a recent news report, in which whistleblowers had claimed transitions were being driven by homophobia.
“As I’ve said many times, transition may be the answer for some. For others, it won’t – witness the accounts of detransitioners,” she said, referring to people who have regretted transitioning.
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A Stonewall survey last year found that of the 3,398 trans patients who spoke to the NHS Gender Identity Service between 2016 and 2017, less than 1% had expressed regrets or detransitioned.
Rowling criticised the use of transgender hormone therapy and raised concerns about “long-term health risks”, which she said were “often minimised or denied by trans activists”.
None of that may trouble you or disturb your belief in your own righteousness. But if so, I can’t pretend I care much about your bad opinion of me. 11/11
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 5, 2020
Responding to the latest tweets, Munroe Bergdorf wrote: “J.K. Rowling is not a scientist. She is not a doctor. She is not an expert on gender. She is not a supporter of our community.
“She is a billionaire, cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who has decided that she knows what is best for us and our bodies. This is not her fight.”
She continued: “While @jk_rowling is condescendingly tweeting from her mansion, black trans women are fighting for our lives. Trans kids are at home scared and navigating unsupportive environments and the government are debating our civil rights.”
Jameela Jamil shared an interview with a surgeon who conducts gender-affirming surgeries and appeared to hit out at Rowling, writing: “For anyone who would like fact, rather than opinion from people who are writers and not scientists/doctors.”
Transgender charity Mermaids responded by calling Rowling’s thread “unfortunate” and “inaccurate”, sharing a link to an open letter it had previously published addressed to the author.
In the letter, the charity said that while some surgeries do render people infertile, they are only available for adults and there are discussions about freezing eggs and sperm for the future.