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J.K. Rowling Comes Under Fire After Tweeting Support for Transphobic Researcher

J.K. RowlingEvan Agostini/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

J.K. Rowling sparked backlash by tweeting support for a British researcher who lost her job after making transphobic comments online.

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The Harry Potter author, 54, sided with Maya Forstater via Twitter on Thursday, December 19, after the tax expert lost a court case against her former employer, Center for Global Development, which opted not to renew her contract in the wake of her controversial social media posts.

“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,” Rowling tweeted. “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”

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In March, Forstater said that she opposed a planned update to the U.K. Gender Recognition Act that would allow people to self-identify their gender without undergoing medical procedures. One of her tweets read, “What I am so surprised at is that smart people who I admire, who are absolutely pro-science in other areas, and champion human rights & womens rights are tying themselves in knots to avoid saying the truth that men cannot change into women (because that might hurt mens feelings).”

Forstater was let go from her job after her tweets went viral. An employment judge ruled on Wednesday, December 18, that the researcher was not entitled to ignore the rights of trans people and “the enormous pain that can be caused by misgendering,” per the BBC.

“It is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment,” Judge James Tayler added. “The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”

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Rowling’s support of Forstater raised eyebrows online on Thursday and prompted a response from GLAAD. The LGBTQ organization said it reached out to the writer’s public relations team to have an off-the-record conversation involving trans people, but Rowling’s publicist allegedly declined.

“J.K. Rowling, whose books gave kids hope that they could work together to create a better world, has now aligned herself with an anti-science ideology that denies the basic humanity of people who are transgender,” GLAAD’s head of talent, Anthony Ramos, said in a statement to Us Weekly on Thursday. “Trans men, trans women, and non-binary people are not a threat, and to imply otherwise puts trans people at risk. Now is the time for allies who know and support trans people to speak up and support their fundamental right to be treated equally and fairly.”

Several celebrities also responded to Rowling’s tweet. Mark Hamill apologized for “liking” the post “without understanding what the last line or hashtags meant,” adding, “Ignorance is no excuse.” Jameela Jamil, meanwhile, tweeted, “Please follow more trans people, please read about their experiences in this world and know you are contributing to their erasure, abuse and suffering by supporting those who deny their identity/existence. Please wield your immense power to protect those most at risk. @jk_rowling.”

Rowling’s rep had no additional comment when Us Weekly reached out.

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