UK authors sign letter in support of trans people after J.K. Rowling furore

by Rachel Savage | @rachelmsavage | Thomson Reuters Foundation
Wednesday, 30 September 2020 16:41 GMT

FILE PHOTO: British author Jeanette Winterson speaks on the environment during the second day of the annual Conservative Party conference in Bournemouth, southern England October 2, 2006. REUTERS. REUTERS/Toby Melville

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Jeanette Winterson and Malorie Blackman were among authors that signed a letter supporting transgender people

By Rachel Savage

LONDON, Sept 30 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - More than 200 British authors have signed a "message of love" for transgender people, days after 58 other writers condemned threats against J.K. Rowling over her views on trans rights.

The latest open letter - signed by novelist Jeanette Winterson, famed for "Oranges Are Not the Only Fruit", and young adult writer Malorie Blackman - was published online on Wednesday by The Second Shelf, a feminist London bookshop.

"We stand with you, we hear you, we see you, we accept you, we love you. The world is better for having you in it," said the letter, coordinated by authors Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Daisy Johnson, which did not mention the "Harry Potter" author.

"Non-binary lives are valid, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights," said the letter, referring to non-binary people who are neither male nor female, which was also signed by editors and publicists.

Trans rights have been fiercely debated in Britain, with Rowling raising concerns earlier this year over trans women being allowed into female spaces - a view praised by some women's rights campaigners and criticised by trans advocates.

Wednesday's letter follows one signed on Sunday by novelist Ian McEwan and playwright Tom Stoppard that said Rowling had faced "an onslaught of abuse that highlights an insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media".

Rowling sparked controversy in June after she took umbrage with the headline "Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate."

The publication of Rowling's latest novel, "Troubled Blood", reignited the furore - with the hashtag #RIPJKRowling trending on Twitter - due to the inclusion of a serial killer with a fetish for women's clothes.

Many trans people welcomed Wednesday's letter as a respite from the toxic debate over their rights.

"Sometimes transphobic voices get so loud that you need a reminder that people are full of love, support, compassion and friendship," tweeted Juno Dawson, a trans author who also signed the letter.

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(Reporting by Rachel Savage @rachelmsavage; Editing by Katy Migiro. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers the lives of people around the world who struggle to live freely or fairly. Visit http://news.trust.org)

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