Chocolat author Joanne Harris says transphobes want her ‘silenced’ in wake of threats and abuse

Joanne Harris wears a dark shirt and jacket while standing in front of a dark background

Joanne Harris says she will remain in her post at the Society of Authors (SOA) despite a wave of “death threats, attacks in the media and countless abusive messages”.

The celebrated author – who wrote Chocolat and is chair of the SOA’s management committee – endured mounting backlash from so-called ‘gender-critical’ feminists after posting a Twitter poll to find out how many authors had received death threats. 

Harris was accused of “mocking” JK Rowling after the Harry Potter author reported receiving a death threat on social media following comments on the recent attack on author Salman Rushdie.

She also faced criticism, threats and calls to step down from her role at the UK’s largest trade union for writers, illustrators and translators.

Joanne Harris: ‘I don’t care. I’m not afraid’

Harris said in a post on Tumblr that she won’t step down from the SOA role despite receiving “death threats, attacks in the media and countless abusive messages” over the past week.

The bestselling author described how she’s always been “stubborn” and “never fitted into the London literary scene” so the fact it “now feels the need to mobilise against [her] means very little”. 

“I don’t care. I’m not afraid,” Harris wrote.

“I was elected to this role to help protect authors’ rights. That means yours, whoever you are, and those of all other authors.”

Joanne Harris added her term “ends in 2024” so until then she’ll “do what [she’s] always done” which is “raise awareness of authors’ rights” despite the mounting voices calling for her removal from the SOA. 

“Since last week, the wave of people demanding my resignation – or just my removal – from the SOA has grown,” Harris said.

“Many of those who have joined the ‘debate’ are not members. Many are not even authors.”

“Nearly all are transphobes, though. Because that’s what all this is about. Transphobes want me silenced.”

Joanne Harris wears a blue shirt as she poses in front of a pink backdrop

Joanne Harris was “elected to this role” with the Society of Authors to “help protect authors’ rights”. (Getty/David Levenson)

Harris wrote about her decision to share the story of her trans son coming out, and how this quickly became the focus of vitriol from gender-critical voices online.

She commented how Kathleen Stock – an anti-trans former University of Sussex professor – and others, “gloated” that having a trans child was “proof of [her] bias” and allyship of the trans community.

“She (rather chillingly) denounced me for having ‘undeclared trans-identified offspring’, and claimed that this was the ‘real’ reason for my support of trans folk,” Harris added.

“Kathleen Stock finds it hard to believe that someone might uphold a principle without having a personal interest. 

“Actually, I’ve been a supporter of trans rights for much longer than this. Like I said, I believe in supporting the rights of all marginalised groups.”

PinkNews has contacted representatives of Kathleen Stock for comment.

Stock was criticised on social media after she suggested on Twitter that high-profile public figures should publicly declare if they have “trans-identified offspring”. The statement appeared to shock many online with some commenting that the tweet was proof of how “sad and nasty the world is becoming”.

Harris added it was “ironic” that so many anti-trans voices wanted her to be “cancelled or lose” her elected position considering such people claim to have been “cancelled for their gender-critical beliefs”. 

The SOA said in a lengthy statement released Friday (19 August) that it “watched with concern” as the allegations made against Harris and the organisation continue to mount. 

The union called on all authors to “converse with dignity and respect and to unite to work together on the issues which affect” everyone.