JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter series, announces that she is a TERF

JK Rowling has long hinted that she sympathized with sex essentialist so-called “radical feminist” idea that nobody’s phenotype is transitioned when trans people medically transition, and thus, trans women are males and trans men are females. However, Rowling has now openly announced her public support of TERF ideology:

The backstory for this seemingly innocuous tweet is that a TERF activist, Maya Forstater sued to be given the special right of consequence-free speech. Such suits are a relatively new frontier of TERF activism. Meghan Murphy, a Canadian TERF, sued Twitter for the special right to harass trans women on its platform. Murphy was represented by Republican operative and past editor of the Heritage Foundation’s Policy Review magazine, Harmeet K Dhillon. Joining Murphy’s suit was Noah Peters, attorney for a White supremacist who previously sued Twitter for not hosting his racist tweets.

Like Murphy, who was banned from Twitter, Forstater was apparently fired from her job for harassing trans people on Twitter.  Like Murphy, Forstater claimed that she was being oppressed for her philosophical beliefs. However, the court found that she was, in actuality, harassing trans people:

Having protected characteristics, including philosophical beliefs, does not prevent people from having to take care not to harass others… There is nothing to stop [Maya Forstater from] campaigning against the proposed revision to the Gender Recognition Act to be based more on self-identification. She is entitled to put forward her opinion that these should be some spaces that are limited to women assigned female at birth where it is appropreate means of achieving a legitimate aim. However,  that does not mean that her absolutist view that sex is immutable is a protected belief  for the purposes of the EqA. [Forstater] can legitimately put forward her arguments about the importance of some safe spaces that are only available to women identified female at birth, without insisting on calling trans women men.

I draw a distinction between belief and separate action based on the belief that may constitute harassment… In her response to the complaint made by her co-workers [Forstater] stated  “I have been told that it is offensive to say ‘transwomen are men’ or that women means ‘adult human female’. However since these statement [sic] are true I will continue to say them” .

I conclude from this, and 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.

 It is also a slight of hand  to suggest that [Forstater] merely does not hold the belief that transwomen are women. She positively believes that they are men; and will say so whenever she wishes. Put either as a belief or lack of belief, the view held by [Forstater] fails the Grainger criteria and so she does not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.

Moreover, the court found that Forstater’s bigotry was, “incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others.” Right-wing media outlets have decried Forstater’s newly-minted victim status, resulting in people donating thousands to her. Likewise, Rowling is currently enjoying reporting that purposefully obfuscates the malignant goals of their activism, casting the two as victims of a Leftisteasily offendedPCanti-free speechcancel culture.

With her promotion of Forstater’s TERF bigotry, Rowling seems to make clear that she supports:

  • Sex essentialism so that trans women are men and trans men are women;
  • The notion that trans women should use male public hygiene facilities;
  • The notion that the equal existence of trans people oppress cis women; and,
  • TERFs should be given the special right of consequence-free speech.

More Info

  • Learn about the important differences between TERFs and actual radical feminists.
  • Sex Binary: The view of patriarchy that there are only two types of sexed bodies, male and female, and that these genotypic and phenotypic body attributes are an immutable natural reality. The sex binary erases or marginalizes both intersex people (whose genotype/phenotype sex at birth is not seen as neatly fitting into either binary category) and transsexual or transgender people who transition to a different sexed phenotype (binary or nonbinary) than that associated with their assigned sex at birth.
  • Sex essentialism: the uncritical belief that “sex” is reducible to one discrete attribute that, once identified, causes the entirety of the body to conform to the binary category of either male or female.
  • TERF: Trans Exclusionary RadFem. A term used to identify those individuals who sympathize with and support a brand of so-called “radical feminism” that is so rooted in sex essentialism and its resulting biologism, it actively campaigns against the existence, equality, and/or inclusion of trans people.  The term appears to have been popularized in 2008 by a cisgender feminist on a blog called FinallyFeminism101. TERFs generally claim that gender identity is the same thing as gender role, that gender is the same thing as sexism, and that sexed ontologies are produced by nature or god, not culture.
  • Read the full court findings here:



Cristan Williams is a trans historian and pioneer in addressing the practical needs of underserved communities. She started the first trans homeless shelter in Texas and co-founded the first federally funded housing-first homeless program, pioneered affordable health care for trans people in the Houston area, won the right for trans people to change their gender on Texas ID prior to surgery, started numerous trans social service programs and founded the Transgender Center as well as the Transgender Archives. She has published short stories, academic chapters and papers, and numerous articles for both print and digital magazines. She received numerous awards for her advocacy and has presented at universities throughout the nation, served on several governmental committees and CBO boards, is the Editor of the TransAdvocate, and is a founding board member of the Transgender Foundation of America and the Bee Busy Wellness Center.