JK Rowling facing fierce backlash, yet again, for ‘dangerous’ comments comparing trans healthcare to gay conversion therapy

JK Rowling school

JK Rowling weathered intense criticism – again – for maintaining her view on trans people even amid widespread rebuttals from LGBT+ activists, human rights advocacy groups and health professionals.

The British author behind the beloved Harry Potter series issued a winding statement on Sunday evening (5 July) that compared the denounced practice of conversion therapy to the steadily eroded access trans youth have to healthcare.

Criticism brewing around the 54-year-old liking a tweet that called “hormone prescriptions” the “new antidepressants” that morning reached fever pitch hours later when she launched into the 11-tweet-long thread.

Harry Potter author criticised for commenting on trans people. Again.

Appearing stung by critics, the fiction writer disputed to her 14.4 million followers the “lies” that have emerged in the weeks that have followed since Rowling went from a stoop-sitter to full-on vocal commentator on the topic of trans lives.

Many in her circles, from Harry Potter movie stars to her corporate partners and authors at her writing agency have all distanced themselves from her as a result.

JK Rowling noted that she has taken anti-depressants in the past, before saying: “Many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests.”

Countless studies by medical institutions have dubbed the healthcare options available for trans youths, such as puberty-blockers, as “life-saving”.

Puberty-pausing medication, known as puberty blockers, delay puberty until a young trans person is old enough to make decisions about having gender-affirming medical treatment, for example, hormone therapy or surgery.

Puberty blockers can also temporarily prevent the development of secondary sexual characteristics (like an Adam’s apple or facial hair), which means that trans teenagers can potentially avoid some gender-affirming surgeries later in life.

In the UK, the medication is prescribed to trans teens by specialist gender doctors at the NHS’s only gender clinic for under 18s, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS) at the NHS’s Tavistock and Portman Trust in London. The age at which trans kids can be given puberty blockers was lowered from 16 to around 11 in 2011, after nearly a decade of consultation with international experts.

Rowling continued: “Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”

She then referenced a BBC Newsnight documentary on the Tavistock and Portman NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the only NHS gender clinic for trans youth, as well as a news item that takes aim at, again, healthcare options for trans youth. Both alluded to detransitioners.

The word is used for people who undergo some form of transition associated with being transgender – be that socially, like changing their physical appearance and pronouns, or medical intervention, like hormone treatment or gender affirmation surgery – but later return to identifying as the gender they were assigned at birth. Multiple studies have found that less than one per cent of people who transition gender later regret it and detransition.

“None of that may trouble you or disturb your belief in your own righteousness,” she concluded. “But if so, I can’t pretend I care much about your bad opinion of me.”

JK Rowling flanked for comparing trans youth healthcare to conversion therapy: ‘There is so much misinformation and disinformation in this thread.’

Rowling’s comments drew immediate mass criticism online. Many detractors, from notable queer celebrities such as Jameela Jamil, healthcare providers and actual trans people who have a lived experience of what Rowling is discussing, accused the author of misinformation, many linking medical journals and interviews with medical experts that disputed her take.