CW: Transphobic violence and rape are mentioned in this article.
Britain’s most famous transphobe is back, and in this installment of J.K. Rowling Endangers Trans Lives for Personal Gain, the widely despised children’s author is channeling her hateful views into the plot of a new novel, The Telegraph reports.
According to the first major review of the book, much of Rowling’s Troubled Blood (out tomorrow from Little, Brown and Company) follows detective Cormoran Strike as he investigates a cis male serial killer who hunts his unsuspecting cis female victims by dressing up as a woman. If that sounds familiar, it’s because Rowling’s plot is not only transphobic; it’s clearly derivative of Dressed to Kill and The Silence of the Lambs, two films whose tropey villains used similar tactics as Rowling’s.
Rowling’s latest literary affront to trans folks builds on the transphobic representation furthered earlier in the series. In a scene from The Silkworm, a trans woman named Pippa attempts to stab Strike. Having detained her in his office, the detective asks for Pippa’s ID, revealing her trans status. When Pippa attempts to escape, Strike blocks her exit, informing her that “‘If you go for that door one more time I’m calling the police and I’ll testify and be glad to watch you go down for attempted murder. And it won’t be fun for you Pippa,’ he says. ‘Not pre-op,’” he adds, implying she may be raped in prison.
Clocking in at over 900 pages, Troubled Blood dwarfs the nearly 4,000-word blog post she released this June, described by many as a TERF manifesto. From the sounds of her latest fiction, it seems to be animated by similar concerns as those at the heart of her June screed, which condemned “new trans activism” on the grounds that affirming trans women’s identities presented a danger to “natal girls and women.”
“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside,” Rowling wrote in the post. “That is the simple truth.”
This point is as transphobic as it is false. Yet despite being hateful and wrong, the notion that transfeminity is dangerous again suffuses the narrative of her new book. And as the documentary Disclosure so emphatically demonstrates, narratives like these contribute to the violence trans folks face everyday.
In a write-up, The Telegraph’s reviewer, Jake Kerridge, opines: “One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of [the] book.”
Social media quickly offered a bounty of perspectives on what they cast as Rowling’s transphobic propaganda.
“It’s impressive how fixed an idea ‘transvestite serial killer’ is as a trope given how it’s… never happened,” wrote a user named Writer of Wrongs. “Like, to the point where Russian police famously failed to catch a female serial killer because they’d convinced themselves they were looking for a transvestite.”
Rowling’s critics took the opportunity to dunk on the author in real life, too. Mere hours after it was unveiled, a billboard in Vancouver, British Columbia proclaiming “I <3 J.K. Rowling” was doused in paint. The billboard was completely painted over shortly thereafter. An insurance broker named Chris Elston would later take credit for the sign, noting that the inspiration was his support of J.K. Rowling’s transphobic beliefs. In a tweet, Elston noted he has “issues with self-ID laws, ever-evolving gender ideology, child protection, and women’s rights.”
Some Twitter users responded to the news by imploring folks to boycott the new book. “Every day is a good day to stop giving J.K. Rowling even one precious cent of your money, but ESPECIALLY in light of her moving her violent transphobia out of the subtext of her books and into the text,” wrote one.
In many ways the most appropriate response to news of Rowling’s transphobic new book was the simplest — a Twitter hashtag proclaiming simply “#RIPJKRowling.”
“In memory of J.K. Rowling,” wrote a Twitter user called Patback. “She ain’t dead, but she killed her own career by proudly hating trans people.”
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