So I decided to finally put my feelings and thoughts into words after reading Rowling’s various novels, posts, and tweets about trans people, specifically trans women. She made news back at the end of March by liking overly TERFy tweets, and then when called out attempted to blame it on a “middle age moment” and holding her phone wrong so she accidentally liked it. For those unaware of what is going on, here the article on it from Pink News.
As a trans person, seeing someone who is supposedly super pro-LGBT+ excluding a marginalized group from the movement can be harmful for one’s mental health, especially if the person being marginalized was in some way looking up to that person or even was finding solace in the fandom (because Rowling had made comments about LGBT people at Hogwarts, but apparently she didn’t mean trans people from how she talks).
Outside of personal feelings, there are numerous issues with how she presented the character in the Strike novels. (More info on the novels here and here) She used outdated and harmful stereotypes against trans people, stereotypes that get trans people outright murdered (claiming they’re just men in dresses, that they’re child molesters, that they’re going to hurt people because they’re hiding behind “being a woman”) or has had legislation passed against them treating them like a danger to society.
While it turned out that the one character wasn’t trans, the fact that that was her go to for the female first name played into the stereotypes and painted trans people in a negative light. Similar sorts of things were done to gay men back in the 50s and 60s (and up to today sadly) where they were secretly going to groom and molest your male children and “turn them gay”. We see it with other marginalized groups as well, a person from a middle eastern country is most likely going to be cast as a terrorist or a villain, an African American man is most likely cast as a “thug” or a gang member while the woman is cast as “sassy” or a single mom who is dependent on welfare.
By using the harmful stereotypes against marginalized groups, authors and film makers cause great harm to those groups, because people who read/watch that media often don’t realize that they’re incorrect stereotypes and take it on face value because it wouldn’t make sense for an author/film maker to do that unless it was true, right?
In one of her other novels in the Strike series, she has the main character threaten to have a trans character arrested and makes prison rape threats at the person. She also uses stereotypes about trans women being overly aggressive, or overly masculine and who are basically just again, men in dresses. (Discussed here)
And with things like I mentioned before, the anti-trans laws being put into place, or the fact that in the US there are 48 states where the trans panic defense is a valid murder defense, or the fact that reparative rape is still something suggested to “fix” trans men (like myself), having a famous author or film maker pushing harmful stereotypes like this does a lot of harm for the marginalized group.
So far there have been at least 8 trans people killed in 2018 alone, which adds to the myriad of reasons seeing a famous person touting anti-trans rhetoric or spreading transphobia as something to be frightening or problematic/cause for fear in the trans community.
There is more info here for other TERF actions if you’re interested.