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JK Rowling says regrets not speaking out sooner on trans issues

JK Rowling says regrets not speaking out sooner on trans issues
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“Harry Potter” author JK Rowling has revealed she regrets not speaking out “far sooner” with her views on transgender rights, in a book essay extract published Wednesday.

Rowling, 58, has been embroiled in controversy and incurred the wrath of activists and “Harry Potter” film stars in recent years over her stance that biological sex is immutable. She denies being transphobic.

In the excerpt published in The Times from a forthcoming book, “The Women Who Wouldn’t Wheesht”, featuring essays from various Scottish women, she details her reasons for talking about the contentious subject.

“Ultimately, I spoke up because I’d have felt ashamed for the rest of my days if I hadn’t. If I feel any regret at all, it’s that I didn’t speak far sooner”, Rowling wrote.

The Edinburgh-based writer said she eventually began to give her opinions after initially keeping quiet because her loved ones “were begging me not to speak”.

Her gender-critical views have made her the darling of some feminists and are also credited with helping to open up larger debates on free speech and a so-called “cancel culture”.

But they have received strong criticism from transgender rights activists and others.

Actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter in the film franchise of the best-selling books, was among those to publicly disassociate himself from her.

This month, he said his row with Rowling was “really sad”.

Rowling recounted in the essay facing a “vicious” backlash in 2019 after publicly defending a woman fired by her employer after her social media posts were deemed transphobic.

“Nobody who’s been through an online monstering or a tsunami of death and rape threats will claim it’s fun,” she wrote.

Despite this, she added that “outing” herself as “gender-critical brought far more positives than negatives”.

The essay comes months after Rowling criticised a new Scottish law criminalising hate speech, including against trans people, in an online tirade challenging the police to arrest her if her views broke the new legislation.

She claimed the law was “wide open” to abuse by those wanting to silence advocates of women’s and girls’ single-sex spaces, and predatory men identifying as women.

The new book, edited by journalist Susan Dalgety and former civil servant Lucy Hunter Blackburn, also features essays by prominent Scottish politicians Joanna Cherry and Ash Regan, who also hold gender-critical views.

“It is the story of women who risked their job, reputation, even the bonds of family and friendship, to make their voices heard,” its publishers Little, Brown Book Group said.

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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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