Trans ally and Chocolat author Joanne Harris wins battle to oust her from Society of Authors role

Joanne Harris celebrates triumphs over transphobes in Society of Authors vote

Chocolat author Joanne Harris has overwhelmingly won a vote to continue her role as chair of the Society of Authors (SOA) after being accused of “mocking” JK Rowling on Twitter.

Harris survived a bid to oust her as chair by 608 votes to 143 votes, according to The Guardian.

The author, 58, was accused of being unfit to chair the SOA after posting a poll on Twitter asking fellow writers if they had ever received “credible” death threats, after author Salman Rushdie was stabbed in August of this year.

She was accused of “mocking” JK Rowling, who had recently spoken about death threats she had received due to her so-called “gender-critical” views; Harris then apologised, insisting that the online poll had “nothing to do with JK Rowling”.

In the months following, Joanne Harris wrote that she had faced criticism for her views supporting the trans community, and was called upon to stand down from her position of SOA chair, which is due to run until 2024.

Critics claimed that Harris’ comments were “not compatible with the society’s goals of protecting free expression and their policy of dignity and respect”.

After comfortably winning the vote on Thursday (17 November), Harris took to Twitter to comment that “rationality has prevailed”.

In a post on Tumblr, Joanne Harris previously responded to movements to oust her as the SOA chair, saying she “didn’t care” about hateful messages towards her

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

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

“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.”

She also commented on how former University of Sussex professor Kathleen Stock, had claimed that Harris having a trans child – her son came out as trans this year – was “proof” of her bias towards 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 said.

“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.”

Joanne Harris has spoken openly about her son, dedicating her award for Ally of the Year at the PinkNews Awards 2022 to him.

“I’m so impressed by this young generation of people who are so incredibly articulate about their gender, their sexuality and their mental health,” she said.

“These magical children who don’t need a special hat to tell them who they are, but who have actually worked it out for themselves.”

She added that after her son came out, she realised that she wanted to “come out and say things as they are”.

“I think it’s important that people understand that this ridiculous media-driven culture war narrative, where the trans people are the enemy, is just so dangerous and so divisive and it absolutely needs to be combatted.”