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J.K. Rowling accused of making "anti-trans comments" on Twitter

Gender: The Space Between
CBS Reports presents Gender - The Space Between 30:51

Author J.K. Rowling was accused of making "anti-trans comments" on Twitter over the weekend, just six months after she came under fire for her support of a researcher who lost her job due to her transphobic tweets.

The writer took issue with the wording of a headline for an opinion article, which read, "Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate." The article was written for Devex, a "media platform for the global development community," according to its website.

"'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people," Rowling tweeted Saturday evening. "Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Twitter users swiftly criticized the tweet for appearing to define a woman as a person who has a menstrual period and equivocating one's sex or sex organs with their gender identity. Her followers pointed out that many people who identify as women, such as transgender women and women who have gone through menopause, may not get their periods, while some people who do not identify as women may still menstruate, such as transgender men and some who identify as non-binary.

"I know you know this because you have been told over and over and over again, but transgender men can menstruate," tweeted user @Aleen. "Non-binary people menstruate. I, a 37-year old woman with a uterus, have not menstruated in a decade. Women are not defined by their periods."

"What happens when women enter menopause? What about women who had hysterectomies? Who don't menstruate because of hormonal issues? Are they not women?" user @coherentstates fired back. "Nothing you say stops trans women from being women."

Rowling posted an additional series of tweets Saturday night trying to defend and explain her earlier, now-viral statement.

"I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth," Rowling tweeted. "The idea that women like me, who've been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they're vulnerable in the same way as women — ie, to male violence — 'hate' trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences — is a nonsense."

However, her additional posts only added to the controversy, as many took issue with her framing of trans and non-binary-inclusive language as "erasing the concept of sex."

"JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans. In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people," tweeted GLAAD. The organization also encouraged its followers to direct their "rightful anger" into "something positive" and donate to various organizations that support the black transgender community. 

"Trans women are women. Trans Black people & trans non-Black people are discriminated against every single day," tweeted Jonathan Van Ness of the Netflix show "Queer Eye." "They're dying. We're fighting for Black people & trans people and you're doing this?"

This incident is far from the first time the author — who recently announced the release of a new children's book — has been under fire for her comments about the transgender community.

In December, Rowling tweeted support for researcher Maya Forstater, who lost her job due to transphobic tweets, after she lost a court case against her former employer.

"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? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill," Rowling tweeted at the time.

Rowling's support sparked widespread criticism online, including from the Human Rights Campaign and other major organizations.

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