Transgender people and their supporters gather in Parliament Square to protest against potential changes to the Gender Recognition Act on 04 July, 2020 in London, England. (Wiktor Szymanowicz/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
The trans and non-binary community has officially had enough, after JK Rowling launched yet another unprovoked and unnecessary tirade – this time branding life-saving healthcare for trans kids a “new kind of conversion therapy”.
Over the past few years, JK Rowling has crept from “accidentally” liking transphobic tweets (that described trans women as “men in dresses”) to backing Maya Forstater in December 2019 and publishing her magnum opus, the personal essay TERF Wars, in June 2020.
Forstater is the “gender critical” campaigner who tried to persuade a British judge that her transphobic views and penchant for misgendering trans people should be protected under equalities law.
She lost her case – the judge said her beliefs about transgender people are “not worthy of respect in a democratic society” – but this didn’t stop JK from announcing, apropos of nothing, that she “stood with Maya”.
From memory, JK Rowling also accidentally misinformed her millions of followers about the judge’s verdict by claiming Forstater had been “forced out of her job for saying that sex is real” (objectively and emphatically not true on both counts), then randomly added that trans people would be lucky to find people who’d want to have sex with us. Thanks, Joanne.
Since then, JK Rowling has launched three – or is it four now, I’ve lost
interest count – major tirades against trans rights, two of which came during Pride month and in the midst of global protests against racism and police brutality.
Her most recent string of nonsense goes against the international scientific consensus on trans healthcare, has been labelled “dangerous to LGBT+ people“, and isn’t worth repeating.
Last time this happened, the trans community and its allies doubled down. Countless blogs dissecting Rowling’s lengthy personal essay – which “explained” her views on trans people (clue: she doesn’t want us in public bathrooms, but she DOES have trans friends!) – rebutted her meandering arguments, point by point.
LGBT+ organisations put out statements. Harry Potter stars said that trans women are women. The US media called JK Rowling a transphobe, while UK media discussed her views as though they were worth taking seriously.
This time, though, the appetite for responding to Rowling’s statements in good faith seems to have vanished. Instead, trans people are doing what, in media jargon, is known as changing the narrative.
#TransPeopleAreRealPeople was started by trans woman, icon and Vogue columnist Paris Lees.
“It would be great if someone changed the section on JK Rowling’s Wikipedia from ‘Transgender issues’ to ‘Transgender people,’” Lees tweeted on July 5.
“I’m someone from Nottingham who moved to London and has just ordered pizza. We’re real people, living real lives and we deserve to be treated with respect.”
It would be amazing if this were a hashtag. How about #TransPeopleAreRealPeople ?
Tell us who you are and what you did today. Because people need reminding that we are people too, not an ‘issue’ to be ‘debated’ https://t.co/dbco9eJpbo
— Paris Lees (@parislees) July 5, 2020
After her tweet was liked nearly 4,000 times, Lees added a call to action for the trans community: “It would be amazing if this were a hashtag.
“How about #TransPeopleAreRealPeople? Tell us who you are and what you did today.
“Because people need reminding that we are people too, not an ‘issue’ to be ‘debated’.”
In the 18 hours since, the hashtag is trending on Twitter as the trans community uses it to show that – no matter what certain straight white millionaire authors might prefer – trans people exist, always have done, and always will.
JK Rowling will likely tweet again.
Like others before her, she is being held up as a defender of women. And just like others before her, there may come a time when her public pronouncements about trans people aren’t even interrupted by whimsical feedback on children’s drawings for her books.
But for however long it takes until she eventually runs out of steam, trans people will continue to live our lives. We will continue to fight back against government attacks on our rights, our safety, and our access to healthcare.
And we will continue to remember our history, which teaches us that periods of publicly-acceptable prejudice against marginalised communities will, eventually, end.
#TransPeopleAreRealPeople I’m a poet and a writer. I go to school and I’m taking classes over summer. My birthday is next month. I listen to music and rant about shitty movies.
I’m a person. pic.twitter.com/2hDCUKQx5d
— Antifa Waifu (@PersephoneAna) July 6, 2020
Online I’m Nash, 22, I’m a FtM transgender illustrator who likes cartoon and memes. Offline I’m a hijabi living in bumfuck, Arabia under oppressive laws but despite it all- I continue to exist and express myself where I can, I’m real.
— Nash Hadad ♮ (@NashHadad) July 5, 2020
I’m 27. I cook. I draw. I paint. I write. I work as a waitress. I love my friends.
I just want to live a quiet life without being attacked and I can’t even have that.#TransPeopleAreRealPeople
— Jane Doe (@fightingpride93) July 6, 2020
#TransPeopleAreRealPeople a non binary person of colour coming in to tell y’all we’re real people 💜 pic.twitter.com/LMQypF0Q4E
— ᵇˡᵐ ☀︎︎ αℓєχ✷: ℓєηα αη∂ ѕ¢уℓℓα αρσℓσgιѕт.✿ ⁑ (@scyllasluthor) July 6, 2020
My name is Jemma. I just turned 40. I started transitioning at 38 after years of being terrified. I’ve survived suicide attempts and emotionally abusive relationships. I battle mental illness every day.
I’m alive thanks to transitioning. 🧡#TransPeopleAreRealPeople pic.twitter.com/KcrdPsYSeu
— Jemma! 🥀 rated T4T (@RiotGrrrlJemma) July 6, 2020
hi. my name is kat. i’m a poc transgender woman. i’ve been living my truth for the past 4 years and i couldn’t be happier. it’s been a long road but in a week i see my doctor to start HRT and I couldn’t be more happier.
we are real .. we exist.#TransPeopleAreRealPeople pic.twitter.com/DizGBGEI9z
— kat ❦ (@katwilderness) July 6, 2020
#TransPeopleAreRealPeople im Ren n imma he/they nonbinary transmasc dude! studying undergrad entomology at Cal! im valid and so are you! ♥️ pic.twitter.com/0okycbgiYT
— KAIJU SAYS #BLACKLlVESMATTER🌹 (@tyrennosaur) July 6, 2020
I have friends and family who love me and who I live dearly. I am a senior engineer. I have a cat called Poppy. I play guitar. I like metal music. I want to start a family one day
I’m the same as you. Just let me live my life
— Katy Montgomerie 🦗 (@KatyMontgomerie) July 5, 2020
I love working out and playing video games. I work in human services and have a loving fiancé and 3 guinea pigs. I’m also knitting hats to donate to a homeless shelter. We are full ppl with full lives. We deserve full human rights. #TransPeopleAreRealPeople pic.twitter.com/ZMnyQUloei
— Anthony (@_Baked_Potato9) July 6, 2020