J.K. Rowling‘s support of a British researcher who was fired after expressing anti-transgender sentiments has sparked swift backlash against the author.
The Harry Potter author, 54, tweeted her support of Maya Forstater on Thursday after Forstater lost a court hearing challenging her termination from the Centre for Global Development, where she worked as a fellow.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill” Rowling tweeted.
PEOPLE reached out to Rowling’s reps who offered no further comment.
Forstater was initially fired after tweeting, among other things, that “men cannot change into women.” According to The Guardian, Judge James Tayler, an employment judge, ruled Forstater’s termination as valid since her views were “absolutist” and did “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.”
“I conclude from … the totality of the evidence, that [Forstater] is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society,” the judge wrote.
After her tweet, LGBTQ organization GLAAD released a statement revealing it offered to arrange an off-the-record meeting for Rowling to talk to members of the trans community. The organization says a publicist from her team declined the meeting.
“J.K. Rowling, whose books gave kids hope that they could work together to create a better world, has now aligned herself with an anti-science ideology that denies the basic humanity of people who are transgender,” GLAAD’s head of talent Anthony Ramos said in a statement afterwards. “Trans men, trans women, and non-binary people are not a threat, and to imply otherwise puts trans people at risk. Now is the time for allies who know and support trans people to speak up and support their fundamental right to be treated equally and fairly.”
Fans of Rowling’s books and others online quickly criticized her comments, labeling the author as anti-trans and calling out how harmful her support of Forstater is for her young fans who are trans themselves.
“In fact, the World Health Organization—among countless other medical authorities—validate trans people in their authentic gender identity. It is quite clear you don’t understand the first thing about the trans community or the science at play. This is heartbreaking,” Charlotte Clymer, who works for the Human Rights Campaign, responded in a tweet to Rowling.
In fact, the World Health Organization--among countless other medical authorities--validate trans people in their authentic gender identity.— Charlotte Clymer🏳️🌈 (@cmclymer) December 19, 2019
It is quite clear you don't understand the first thing about the trans community or the science at play.
This is heartbreaking.
Most tweets echoed her statements, with many expressing how sad they are at their childhood idol supporting anti-trans views.
“I am grateful for the magic @jk_rowling brought into my life, but making hurtful comments towards the trans community is not okay. As said in your 4th book, ‘Differences of habit and language are nothing at all if our aims are identical and our hearts are open.’ Please do better,” writer Steph Frosch wrote.
Celebrities have also responded to Rowling’s comments, with The Good Place actress and activist Jameela Jamil, a fellow Brit, announcing that she’d be unfollowing Rowling.
“Please follow more trans people, please read about their experiences in this world and know you are contributing to their erasure, abuse and suffering by supporting those who deny their identity/existence. Please wield your immense power to protect those most at risk,” she wrote in a tweet directed at Rowling.