In December 2019, J.K. Rowling received the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Award, an award that honors laureates "for their lifelong commitment to human rights and their exceptional work toward a more just and peaceful world."
“I’m delighted and honoured to be receiving this Award in such distinguished company and in the spirit of Robert F. Kennedy’s dedication to social change,” she said at the time.
But now, the Harry Potter author is returning the prize after Kerry Kennedy, RFK's daughter and the president of the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights non-profit, called attention to and criticized Rowling's transphobic rhetoric.
"Over the course of June 2020—LGBTQ Pride Month—and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements," Kennedy wrote in a statement posted to the organization's website on August 3.
"I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community—one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted."
"From her own words, I take Rowling’s position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one’s gender, regardless of one’s gender identity—a position that I categorically reject. The science is clear and conclusive: Sex is not binary.
Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision."
Rowling has since responded with her own statement denying that she is transphobic or "responsible for harm to trans people."
"I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community," she wrote.
"I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year."
Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights is not the first group to distance itself from Rowling and her views. Several people involved in the Harry Potter films including stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint have all spoken out against transphobia and in support of the trans community following Rowling's statements.
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