How JK Rowling Helped Stall the Equality Act

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Last year I made a video about JK Rowling, who used to be the author of the Harry Potter series though apparently it turns out that the true author was really Hatsune Miku, some kind of Japanese teen girl who is also a robot who created Minecraft.

(I’m going to immediately ruin this joke by pointing out that it’s important we accept that horrible people can create wonderful things and we can still love those things while acknowledging their flawed creator, and coming to terms with that can also allow us to enjoy those works while making sure that we do not give horrible people the money, fame, or recognition they desire.)

In that previous video, I go over the basics of why Rowling is a bigot, why TERFs are scientifically illiterate, and why trans rights are human rights, so I won’t repeat that all here. Just go watch that if you want to catch up.

Rowling has doubled down on her transphobia by penning a remarkably poorly written treatise in which she repeats myths about trans rights impinging on or erasing women’s rights, and she brings up her own past abusive relationship as though it has anything to do with the issue at hand. Like, no, Jackie, or whatever your actual name is (I refuse to look it up so long as you refuse to look up an actual scientist’s very clear explanation of sex and gender), you being abused by a cis man has nothing to do with a random trans person’s right to use whatever bathroom they want and not get fired or lose their housing. It wouldn’t even matter if you were abused by a trans man. Or a trans woman, in a women’s restroom. If a straight woman was raped by a lesbian in a women’s restroom, would be a good reason for everyone to start campaigning against allowing lesbians to use women’s restrooms? And if JK’s answer to that is “of course not” then congratulations on beginning the long journey towards self-awareness.

“Okay,” you may think, “so a billionaire is wrong about the science, the lived experience, and the human rights of trans people. What’s the big deal that requires two whole videos about it?” Here’s the big deal: a Republican Congressman just quoted Rowling on the floor of the Senate while filibustering to prevent the passage of the Equality Act, a bipartisan bill that would prevent Americans from discriminating against LGBTQ people when it comes to things like workplaces, housing, and legal services. The bill passed the House last year and had strong support to do well in the Senate but Senator James Lankford, a Republican from Oklahoma, filibustered to prevent a vote. I’ll briefly note that this is ironic considering that Lankford is on record as being in staunch opposition to filibusters, when they get in the way of something that he wants. I mean, it would be ironic if we didn’t assume politicians are all hypocritical pieces of shit.

Lankford said, “We don’t want anyone to be discriminated against, anyone, but we can do this in a way that accommodates everyone, and that we can actually work towards agreement. To say in the words of J.K. Rowling this past week where she wrote, ‘all I’m asking, all I want is for similar empathy, similar understanding to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats or abuse.’ Let’s work together to get equality. This bill does not do it in this form.”

He brought up the ol’ religious liberty chestnut that we’ve seen again and again and again: asking everyone to not discriminate against marginalized people would violate people’s religious freedom, because their religion insists they, well, discriminate against marginalized people, just like in the past their religion insisted that they not learn the science of evolution, not give women medical treatment, and not allow members of the same sex to marry each other.

In addition to the religious freedom bullshit, he also picks up on Rowling’s main point when he addresses “privacy issues, such as concerns from individuals who want to have a TSA agent of the same sex for pat downs at the airport.” Like, honestly this is so fucking stupid. Again: do we prevent lesbian TSA agents from doing pat downs on women? No! Because a pat down isn’t sexual. Or at least it’s not supposed to be but for the record I don’t want men or women patting me down at the airport because it doesn’t make anyone safer and I feel violated no matter who is doing it.

So yeah, trans-exclusionary radical feminists have joined forces with staunch conservatives because both groups want to discriminate against trans people. It’s even happening with organizations, like the ostensibly feminist Women’s Liberation Front putting out a joint press release with the virulently anti-feminist Concerned Women of America to oppose the Equality Act.

The Supreme Court recently ruled that employers cannot discriminate against LGBTQ people in the workplace, which is a great step. But there are still 28 states where it’s legal for someone to deny a person business services or housing due to their sexuality or gender identity. The Equality Act would fix that and protect all Americans from that kind of discrimination. But you won’t hear about that from conservatives and TERFs. They want the ability to stop trans people from renting an apartment or accessing basic medical care, but they know that’s a tough sell these days as more and more people accept that trans rights are human rights. So instead they hide behind the farcical idea that this act will lead to thousands of cis men grabbing a wig and running to their nearest locker room to swing their dicks in little girls’ faces. News flash: no matter what genitalia you have, businesses will still have the right to kick people out for being pervy weirdos. And news flash number two: pervy weirdos are already out there doing their pervy weirdo shit. They don’t care what is or isn’t legal. There aren’t thousands of rapists out there twiddling their thumbs and saying, “Man, I’d really like to rape a woman in the bathroom but I’m not allowed to go in the ladies’ bathroom.” It’s nothing but a TERF fantasy based on the exact same kind of fear-mongering Conservatives engaged in about gays and lesbians being allowed to exist in public life. It was bigoted nonsense then and it’s bigoted nonsense now. Don’t let the GOP and JK Rowling distract you from that basic point.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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One Comment

  1. “It’s common knowledge at this point that psychological warfare works, and if you can keep your enemy distracted, exhausted, and angry at a different target (like kids and dumbasses), you will have an easier time winning.”

    “Rapists will lurk in bathrooms”
    Or “Who will arrest the murderers when you defund the cops”
    Or “the gays will turn everybody gay and the human race will become extinct.”

    Different iterations of the same tactic.

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