JK Rowling recently told Graham Norton that her new novel, “The Ink Black Heart,” is not based on her own experience being slammed as transphobic despite featuring a character who finds herself in a similar social media firestorm (via Rolling Stone). The new book, published under Rowling’s pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is part of Rowling’s “Cormoran Strike” crime thriller series and includes a character named Edie Ledwell, a “creator of a popular YouTube cartoon who sees internet trolls and her own fandom turn on her after the cartoon was criticized as being racist and ableist, as well as transphobic for a bit about a hermaphrodite worm.”
As reported by Rolling Stone, the character in the novel is “doxxed with photos of her home plastered on the internet, subjected to death and rape threats for having an opinion, and is ultimately found stabbed to death in a cemetery. The book takes a clear aim at ‘Social Justice Warriors’ and suggests that Ledwell was a victim of a masterfully plotted, politically fueled hate campaign against her.”
“I should make it really clear after some of the things that have happened the last year that this is not depicting [that],” Rowling said to Norton, asserting that her own fight against claims of transphobia had nothing to do with inspiring the book. “I had written the book before certain things happened to me online. I said to my husband, ‘I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,’ but it genuinely wasn’t. The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened.”
Rowling has been the subject of controversy for several years now due to her gender beliefs and a series of anti-transgender tweets posted in 2020. Rowling argued at the time that discussing gender identity negates biological sex. Several “Harry Potter” stars have spoken out against Rowling for her beliefs, including Daniel Radcliffe. The actor wrote a letter that “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 .”
Earlier this year, Rowling feuded online with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister of Scotland, over the country’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which aims to simplify the means by which a transgender person can legally change their gender through obtaining a gender recognition certificate. The certificate allows a trans person to receive a new birth certificate with their correct gender.
“The law Nicola Sturgeon’s trying to pass in Scotland will harm the most vulnerable women in society: those seeking help after male violence/rape and incarcerated women,” Rowling posted on Twitter in defiance of the bill being introduced to Parliament. “Statistics show that imprisoned women are already far more likely to have been previously abused.”
Sturgeon said she “fundamentally disagreed” with Rowling over the claim that the reform bill “will harm the most vulnerable in society.” The First Minister stressed that the bill is all about process and will not change safe spaces for women.