The witch-hunting of JK Rowling

The persecution of women who question transgenderism has got to stop.

Brendan O'Neill

Brendan O'Neill


Standing up for women’s rights is a risky business these days. Just ask JK Rowling. She has had merry hell rained down upon her over the past 24 hours. She has been called a stupid cunt, a bitch, trash, an old woman and so fucking ugly by an army of tweeting sexists. Her crime? She defended the right of a woman to express her opinion about sex and gender without losing her job.

The witch-hunting of JK Rowling, the ceaseless online abuse of her over the past day and night, exposes how unhinged, hateful and outright misogynistic the transgender movement has become. Rowling’s sin was to tweet in defence of Maya Forstater, the charity worker who was sacked for her belief that there are two sexes and that sex is immutable. That is, a man cannot become a woman, and vice versa. This week, an employment tribunal outrageously upheld Ms Forstater’s sacking and in the process it decreed what it is acceptable for people in the workplace to think and say. The judge said the kind of views held by Forstater are ‘not worthy of respect in a democratic society’. This essentially gives a green light to the harassment, isolation and expulsion from the workplace of anyone who questions the transgender ideology.

Not surprisingly, this chilling diktat, this judge-led effort to outline what opinions we are allowed to hold, alarmed people who care about freedom of conscience and freedom of speech and who think that women should not be punished for holding particular opinions. There is a foul, pre-modern vibe to the idea that women should keep their filthy opinions to themselves and if they don’t they should be expelled from polite society. Trans-sceptical feminists in academia and the cultural sphere responded to the censorious persecution of Ms Forstater by tweeting their backing of her – #IStandWithMaya – and calling for freedom of speech for women who think biological sex is an actual thing. Rowling joined in. The bile she has since received perfectly illustrates the problem at hand – that it has become tantamount to a speechcrime to say there are two sexes.

Forstater has been punished for stating a biological truth, for expressing what humans have known forever to be the case: that sex is sex and it cannnot be changed. This is not an illiberal position. As Rowling said in her pro-Forstater tweet, people should be free to live however they please:

Rowling’s position is perfectly reasonable and tolerant. She’s defending the right of individuals to engage in any lifestyle of their choosing. She is simply saying that, at the same time, women should not be harassed and silenced just because they are worried about gender-recognition laws that would allow men to become women (legally speaking) simply by declaring it. Women absolutely must have the right to say that if you have a penis – or if you ever had a penis – then you are a man, not a woman. And they must be free to say that men should not be allowed in women-only spaces. This is a freedom-of-speech issue and a women’s-rights issue. That so many on the woke left, including in the Corbynista wing of the Labour Party, cannot see that, and instead have joined in the misogynistic harassment of Forstater and Rowling, confirms the extent to which they have sacrificed progressive principles at the altar of identitarian correctness.

The response to Rowling is getting madder and madder. Pro-trans Harry Potter fans are weeping online. Some are saying they ‘found safety in Hogwarts’ when they were kids and now they have been made to feel unsafe by Rowling’s ‘transphobia’. Star Wars legend Mark Hamill found himself being harassed too after he committed the click-crime of liking Rowling’s tweet. He has now expressed regret for his sinful, blasphemous pressing of the ‘like’ button. Oh Mark, what a letdown. Don’t let your opinions be dictated by intolerant mobs of censors and misogynists.

There is a powerfully Orwellian streak in the punishment of people for expressing obvious truths. That you can now be sacked and demonised for saying men are men and women are women confirms that the trans tyranny is out of control. This is why Rowling’s intervention was so important. The only way this woke censorship and persecution of disobedient women will be countered is if more individuals and institutions stand up to it. Everyone must now say what has, surreally, become unsayable: that sex is real, that sex is immutable, and that if you are born male, you will die male, regardless of what you do to yourself.

Brendan O’Neill is editor of spiked and host of the spiked podcast, The Brendan O’Neill Show. Subscribe to the podcast here. And find Brendan on Instagram: @burntoakboy

Picture by: Getty.

To enquire about republishing spiked’s content, a right to reply or to request a correction, please contact the managing editor, Viv Regan.


Neil McCaughan

2nd January 2020 at 2:57 pm

Did any two groups of whining, entitled, irrational solipsists ever deserve each other more than pretend-women and feminists?

Prospero X

26th December 2019 at 4:38 pm

When will Rowling and similar woke celebs realise that virtue signalling is a dangerous game?

Steve Bradbury

23rd December 2019 at 8:30 am

Like the judgement stated, Maya F (who JK Rowling supported) in general day to day life used people’s preferred pronouns; she also maintained that biological sex existed and reserved the right to name the sex of trans ppl where necessary.

This is rarely necessary with trans ppl in real life. However there are a number of situations where trans woman ACTIVISTS highlight their sex THEMSELVES – by demanding the right (overwhelmingly unwanted by trans women) to go into open plan changes with girls and women; by demanding that trans ppl enter sporting events based on their gender identity (which gives trans men athletes virtually no chance in sports, none at all if they are not on T unless they do darts or curling- as well as over time ruining women’s sport with unassailable World records), by harassing lesbians as transphobic unless they specify that yes, trans women would be on their potential sexual partner list.

In these situations it is not only legitimate but necessary to point out the truth that trans women are male as regardless of gender identity one might go by, nobody can actually change their sex.

This judge, catastrophically, disagreed.

Jon Hunt

23rd December 2019 at 12:55 am

The U.K. has gone down the tubes because of the attack on Free Speech. You cannot say anything that offends people. The police, courts and politicians have been infiltrated by left wing idiots. This is history repeating itself. Nazism and totalitarianism was based on this. Stop speech and punish those with different ideas. JK is a billionaire. She can say whatever she wants. The Left is insane and you better start waking up because soon, your ideas will be no longer be acceptable by others. The imprisoned Tommy Robinson because he interviewed rapists and hurt their feelings. That is just pure insanity. Meanwhile you can see that the conservatives are hidgin because of fear. You can get arrested for tweeting or posting of FB something that “hurts” someone’s feelings. Pure insanity. I’m glad you now have a new leader who will support Brexit! Time to clean up the politically correct idiots.

Steve Bradbury

23rd December 2019 at 8:50 am

A couple of points:

1. Trans activism sits in the individualist liberal centre, which is called ‘left’ in US politics where even the Democrats are Conservatives, and it may be to the left of you.

2. Sadly, 20+% of uk women and 5+% men were subjected to child sex abuse as children, so unavoidably millions of men are perpetrators.

‘Tommy Robinson’ showed he cares nothing for children and their terrible experiences by making out that it’s all about a few bastards who happened to be Muslim stealing ‘our’ girls (who actually belong to themselves) & interfered with their trial.

TrappedInTheOffSide .

27th December 2019 at 11:56 pm

Is this post modern ironic?


22nd December 2019 at 1:05 am

JK Rowling, CEO of Harry Potter Global Industries Inc., should have been sanctioned for her appalling, third-rate, sub-literary children’s (and immature adults’) novels years ago.

Ven Oods

22nd December 2019 at 9:29 am

The Harry Potter books weren’t for me, either, but their success suggests that most kids disagree with you.
I thought her ‘adult’ books were okay. Perhaps you just don’t like her?

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