The rights of an entire minority deserve better than being debated through the prism of a psychodrama involving a children’s author, no matter how many books they have sold, nor how beloved those books may be.
The cycle is now predictable: JK Rowling presses ‘send tweet’ on yet another explosive intervention relating to trans people; a dedicated army of the radicalised — for whom the very existence of trans people is more than obsession, but has apparently consumed every aspect of their lives — is activated on Twitter; trans people and their allies fight back; ‘Rowling’ trends for hours, if not days; news reporters across the globe receive insistent text messages and emails demanding urgent copy on the latest Rowling controversy. Rinse and repeat.
Rowling’s latest intervention deserves a thoughtful response, not because it comes from one of the most high-profile authors on earth, but because she seeks to popularise an increasingly repeated trope. While opponents of the trans rights movement traditionally relied on claims of misogyny to make their case — and indeed still do — it has become ever more fashionable to argue that trans rights is on a collision course with the rights of gay, lesbian and bisexual people. An entire organisation — the Lesbian Gay and Bisexual Alliance — was founded on this premise, and the Twitter mentions of gay people like myself suddenly brims with straights accusing us of ‘homophobia’ because of our support for trans rights. It is difficult not to conclude that there is a vicarious thrill involved for some heterosexuals in believing they now have social permission to yell ‘homophobe’ at gay men.
Rowling herself shared the tweet of a like-minded gay man denouncing ‘gay rights organisations’ supposedly undermining ‘the very foundation of same-sex attraction’, adding that ‘innumerable gay people have been in touch with me to say exactly this’, that they were ‘under attack for not wishing to be redefined and for refusing to use ideological language they find offensive.’
Now, what many LGBTQ people found offensive was a straight celebrity using a colossal platform to stir division amongst LGBTQ people by championing unrepresentative exceptions who are denouncing our “gay rights organisations”. But it’s worth explaining exactly why the ‘T’ really cannot be…