Steph's Place

16th November. J K Rowling's original tweet compared to Liz Truss and GRA Reform

Was J K Rowling's tweet transphobic. Perhaps it is time we looked again?


Society often looks back on history and changes their mind about what is right.

Go back a century and a quarter and Bristolians were erecting a statue to Edward Colston who was a great benefactor to the city. These days we see him as a slave trader who gained his wealth at the cost of other peoples misery and lives. Another example would be Emily Davison, who went to prison and undertook a subsequent hunger strike to help achieve awareness of the right for women to vote. Yet even many women at that time did not take her seriously. She was appallingly treated in Holloway jail, force-fed and eventually gave her life for her cause at Epsom - but she was denounced by the press and indeed, many in society. 

And let us not forget Alan Turing, who through his sheer brilliance, saved many thousands of lives in the last World War - only to suffer humiliation and suicide because he was gay. 

Today we judge Colston, Davison and Turing very differently to how society saw them all those years ago so in this blog I want to look at a tweet made by J K Rowling just under a year or so ago and dissect it line by line, word by word. I also want to put it in context to the words and actions of one Women & Equalities Minister - Liz Truss.  

Looking at that tweet from JKR it read:-

Dress however you please. 

Call yourself whatever you like. 

Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. 

Live your best life in peace and security. 

But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? 

Firstly, was it directed at the trans community?

I am not certain we will ever know that because ultimately the tweet was about a woman (Maya Forstater) losing her job, which of course the trans community had no control over. The decision was that of her employer alone and a subsequent tribunal appeal which Forstater failed to win. Whilst Maya Forstater's employer felt her actions were unacceptable we have no evidence (to the best of my knowledge) that JKR knew of, or backed the opinions that Maya Forstater had previously expressed.

I would suspect we should also take into consideration that Forstater (also, to the best of my knowledge), has never faced any prosecution for hate. The last line of the tweet was certainly about Forstater losing her appeal but I am unsure if we can legitimately go any further than that.

Additionally, the first four lines of the tweet could be interpreted about society in general or LGB people, not just trans people. In fact, the first four lines are (if we assume the tweet is in part about us, trans folk) a reinforcement of our existence and acceptance - there nothing transphobic (or homophobic) at all in these words from JKR.

So we then get to the fifth line. "Force women out of their jobs," as previously mentioned, this was not our call, but the implication in the tweet is, in the more likely hood, aimed at Forstater's employers and the employment tribunal. The more challenging bit for us perhaps come with the next three words "sex is real." Many of us took this as meaning sex has preference over gender - something certainly a trans person would reject. Indeed Woman's Place UK (not exactly trans folks friends) proudly boast the 'Sex not Gender' banner on their website.  

Again, I am not so sure we can argue against 'sex is real' though. The word 'sex' is in the English language and has many connotations such as to have 'sex' as in intercourse - that is certainly real.

According to the UK's Office of National Statistics (ONS) the words 'sex' and 'gender' are interchangeable in the UK and have equal value. We could then easily argue Rowling's words can also mean 'gender is real.'

Another example is by any of us being in possession of a gender recognition certificate -  it legally changes our sex, but it is not called a sex recognition certificate. This clearly proves sex and gender are interchangeable. 

There is also a debate as to what defines biological sex. Many people dispute just looking at genitals is the correct way of validating 'sex' mooting points such as some people have more chromosomes than normal and that hormones play a big part two. Sure there are only two gametes but does that define 'sex'? For the truth is (according to papers written by Cowan et al & Murray et al links below) that there is no single LEGAL definition of 'sex' or 'gender' in UK law, meaning the words are open to interpretation and change.  

Let us turn now to Liz Truss and her statement to the house on the 22nd of September 2020. Here is a lady, a government official, who has sworn to serve the people and uphold democracy. She was giving the government response to Gender Recognition Act public consultation that took place between 3rd July and 22nd October 2018 - some two years previously. 

The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) is about trans people and the debate is purely about 'process.'

The GRA is not about single-sex spaces, not about women's rights; it is purely about a piece of paper - a Gender Recognition Certificate that very few people will ever see.

For any reader, uninformed single-sex spaces are covered by the 2010 Equality Act, and even with a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC), it is entirely legal (in the correct circumstances) to refuse a trans person access to a single-sex space. I personally have no gripe with that at all.  

The process to acquire a GRC is wholly unreasonable, which is why the government are looking to change it. Indeed, in the period April to June 2019, just 92 applications for a GRC were made and only 88% were successful. This stat alone totally debunks gender crits arguments that GRC applications hardly ever fail.

Self-ID was prefered method by the trans community to get a GRC. But many women's groups saw this as a threat to them - forgetting to tell their disciples that if a trans person misused this method, they could be locked up for two years for perjury. Indeed, I only found out about this fact a few days ago - why was this not explained? Had it been, I may well have campaigned differently. Perhaps the trans community itself should have highlighted the perjury clause, perhaps we did not know either. Questions to be asked for sure. 

Moreover, I dont think any women's (or men's) group have a moral right to interfere in GRA reform - it is about TRANS PEOPLE, but we do live in a democracy, and I do come from a biased point of view. 

But then we get to results of the GRA consultation analysed by Nottingham Trent University who quickly rebuffed the suggestion put out in the Sunday Times in the summer that results were "skewed." I am not going to bore you with the stats line by line, or question by question in regards to the results of the consultation, but the simple fact is around 75% of respondents wanted to make trans lives easier, and 25% (the gender-critical women's groups) did not. 

And here is the crux. 

Liz Truss - you are charged by the people of our country to uphold democracy. Of ensuring equality in particular for marginalised groups of people (us) who suffer twice as much crime as a c** person -  has to wait up to five years even to start transition - which then may well take another five years to fulfil.

And you failed in your duty - dismally, completely and utterly failed. You backed the 25%.

You did nothing except suggest you will make the process a bit cheaper and put it online. That is NOT reform. 

Joanne Rowling, I have thought again. I dont think the tweet in question was at all offensive now, sorry for thinking it was, (but others may disagree).   

Elizabeth Truss - stay in the dock for sentencing - for failing in your democratic duty and for failing very vulnerable people.

You, madam - are a disgrace.

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