Rachel Riley thinks JK Rowling is ‘attacked’ for trans views because she criticised Jeremy Corbyn

Headshots of Rachel Riley, JK Rowling

British television presenter Rachel Riley has said that criticism against JK Rowling’s anti-trans views stems from the author speaking out “against Jeremy Corbyn”.

Riley, who co-presents the Channel 4 daytime puzzle show Countdown, was asked by The Sunday Times, of course, about the Harry Potter author.

Rowling, whose publicist once dismissed her liking an anti-trans tweet as a “middle-aged moment“, has repeatedly shared thoughts on trans rights that LGBQ+ groups overwhelmingly call anti-trans.

She has ridiculed police for carrying out LGBT+ outreach following a homophobic murder, offered her “big love” to a deeply anti-LGBT+ activist and enjoyed a boozy brunch with anti-trans campaigners while thousands protested for trans equality.

But according to Riley, the backlash against Rowling’s anti-trans views are an offshoot of her previous criticism against Corbyn, the former Labour Party leader and decades-long MP for Islington North.

“I think a lot of the attacks on JK Rowling are really because she spoke out for Jews and against Jeremy Corbyn and anti-Semitism,” Riley said.

“She has made a real difference to the world,” she said of Rowling’s philanthropy work, before adding to the national newspaper: “And [just saying] this will get us both cancelled.”

Riley’s comments raised alarms among some LGBTQ+ Twitter users, puzzled at how she managed to connect the two topics together.

Rachel Riley ‘supports’ trans rights but does not see JK Rowling as ‘evil’

Riley later replied to some detractors that she does “support” trans rights but does not consider Rowling to be “evil”.

“I think sometimes there is a conflict between women’s rights and trans rights, and there should be room to discuss those things without being called a bigot, or without being called an extremist (for both sides,” she said.

“I support trans rights for people to live as they please and I support [JK Rowling] (who also does),” Riley added.

“We all know any mention of this subject whatsoever will result in a pile on for whoever dares comment. It’s horrible, I’m so sorry for the people directly affected by this toxicity.”

Rowling, who once issued a 16-part biblical-style attack against Corbyn, has been a years-long critic of Corbyn.

In 2020, a human rights watchdog found that Labour bore responsibility for “unlawful acts of harassment and discrimination” against Jewish party members during his leadership. The report looked into allegations, among others, that the party dithered in its response.

At the time, Corbyn said that the problem had been “drastically overstated for political reasons” by politicians inside and outside the party as well as by the press.

“That combination hurt Jewish people,” he said, “and must never be repeated.” A few hours later, Labour said Corbyn had been suspended.

Former Labor Party leader Jeremy Corbyn at a demonstration outside prime minister Boris Johnson’s residence. (Photo by Rasid Necati Aslim/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

“To be clear, concerns about anti-Semitism are neither ‘exaggerated’ nor ‘overstated’,” Corbyn wrote in a second statement.
“The point I wished to make was that the vast majority of Labour Party members were and remain committed anti-racists deeply opposed to anti-Semitism.”

Rowling’s remarks over trans rights are vast. But many have contained a multitude of debunked claims and misleading assertions, so much so that some LGBTQ+ people consider her views a “threat” to the community.

She has, among other things, ridiculed trans-inclusive language and compared some healthcare available to trans youth to conversion therapy.

Indeed, Riley claimed that Rowling does believe in the right for “people to live as they please”, trans people included. Rowling has repeatedly denied allegations that she is “transphobic”.

Rowling added that she “respects” trans folk and “if” they were discriminated “against on the basis of being trans”, she would march alongside them.

But there is no “if” about whether or not trans people face bigotry. Trans people are more susceptible to violence, poor health, homelessness, povertyunemploymentrape and sexual assault, experience higher rates of attempted suicide, are facing legal rollbacks that effectively erase them from existence, encounter swelling rates of homicide and hate crimes, and, overall, have dramatically shorter lifespans than their cis counterparts.

PinkNews contacted representatives of Rachel Riley for comment.