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J.K. Rowling responds to backlash over tweets about trans people

The author of the "Harry Potter" series wrote that she also received an "avalanche" of supportive responses after her tweets were criticized.
/ Source: TODAY

J.K. Rowling has issued a lengthy response over a series of tweets she posted last week that were called anti-trans by the LGBTQ community and others.

The author of the "Harry Potter" series responded in a post on her website Wednesday in which she detailed the history of her interest in trans issues and the surprising, positive responses she received in the midst of a wave of vitriol on Twitter.

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"Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling has responded to a backlash over a series of tweets that were labeled anti-trans. Samir Hussein / WireImage

"What I didn’t expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive,'' she wrote. "They came from a cross-section of kind, empathetic and intelligent people, some of them working in fields dealing with gender dysphoria and trans people, who’re all deeply concerned about the way a socio-political concept is influencing politics, medical practice and safeguarding.

"They’re worried about the dangers to young people, gay people and about the erosion of women’s and girl’s rights. Above all, they’re worried about a climate of fear that serves nobody – least of all trans youth – well."

Rowling's initial tweets were in response to an opinion piece titled, "Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate." She poked fun at the article for not referring to "people who menstruate" as women.

That tweet resulted in comments calling her anti-trans because transgender, nonbinary and gender-nonconforming people can also menstruate.

Rowling responded that it's "nonsense" to say that people who think "sex is real" are "hateful" and that she's "(speaking) the truth."

She then went back-and-forth over several issues with commenters. This also isn't the first time Rowling has been criticized for anti-trans comments, as she drew a backlash in December for supporting a researcher who lost her job after saying she did not agree that "trans women are women."

The latest firestorm prompted Daniel Radcliffe, who starred in the "Harry Potter" movies, to speak out.

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” he wrote in an essay for The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization serving LGBTQ young people.

Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger in the "Harry Potter" movies, also tweeted her support for the trans community on Wednesday.

"Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are," she wrote. "I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are."

The LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD criticized Rowling's latest tweets, urging people to "direct your rightful anger over JK Rowling's latest anti-trans comments into something positive," such as supporting organizations that help trans people.

In a statement to TODAY, GLAAD called Rowling's comments "misinformed and dangerous."

“She is sowing divisiveness in a time when real leaders are driving toward unity," a GLAAD spokesperson said, in part. "And to all the trans and cisgender youth raised on her books who are now loudly speaking up in support of the trans people you know and love, you are the future and we can’t wait to read and watch the beautiful art you will create.”

Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, also told TODAY that she doesn't consider Rowling's statement an apology.

"In fact, she doubles or triples down on her anti-trans stance," Ellis said. "What’s really disappointing about all of this is that the American Medical Association the World Health Organization all say the opposite of J.K. Rowling ... that trans people are who they say they are."

She added that the size of Rowling's platform makes her stance especially disappointing.

"To see her use Pride as an opportunity to attack our trans community is completely disheartening and dangerous," Ellis said. "Trans women are just wonderful people, and she’s diminishing them to genitalia."

In Rowling's response on Wednesday, she wrote that she noted the positive support she has received "not in an attempt to garner sympathy, but out of solidarity with the huge numbers of women who have histories like mine, who’ve been slurred as bigots for having concerns around single-sex spaces.

"I managed to escape my first violent marriage with some difficulty, but I’m now married to a truly good and principled man, safe and secure in ways I never in a million years expected to be," she continued. "However, the scars left by violence and sexual assault don’t disappear, no matter how loved you are, and no matter how much money you’ve made."

Rowling also wrote about feeling a "kinship" with trans women who have suffered violence from men.

"If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you’d find solidarity and kinship,'' she wrote. "I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker."

She closed by asking for empathy for women who want their concerns to be heard.

"The last thing I want to say is this. I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one," she wrote. "I’m extraordinarily fortunate; I’m a survivor, certainly not a victim. I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex backstory, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

"All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse."

This story was updated to include quotes from TODAY's interview with Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD.