JK Rowling launches sex abuse support service that excludes trans women

A graphic composite with a photo of JK Rowling with a doctor writing notes in the background, and a stripe with the colours of the trans Pride flag

JK Rowling has launched a rape and sexual assault crisis centre in Edinburgh which excludes trans women as both employees and service users.

Originally a townhouse, the centre is called Beira’s Place, named after the Scottish goddess of winter.

In an interview with anti-trans journalist Suzanne Moore, published via Substack, Rowling’s opening of Beira’s Place is framed around her opposition to trans rights.

Moore insists that “women standing up for women are now routinely considered transphobic”, and describes Rowling’s public status as having transformed “from unimpeachable Queen of Hogwarts to problematic, shunned iconoclast”.

JK Rowling is quoted as saying: “The line that I have met in a couple of places is that there is no universal experience of womanhood. Well, there is a common experience: it’s being female. But if you remove that from any serious analysis, everything falls apart… No sex class: no activism.”

According to Moore, the need for a centre that excludes trans women was highlighted by the LGBTQ-inclusive, Edinburgh-based Rape Crisis, which she describes as “somewhat controversial”.

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Moore claimed that Rape Crisis’s “stance” is that “survivors may need to be re-educated about trans rights as part of recovering from trauma”.

Moore correctly states that Rape Crisis is oversubscribed, and cannot meet the need of all survivors in the area. What she neglects to mention is that the barrage of criticism directed at Rape Crisis by so-called ‘gender-critical feminists’ has meant that some survivors are unlikely to access any support at all.

In a letter to its trans service users during Trans Awareness Week, Rape Crisis said: “Because of our work to make Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre more trans-inclusive, the transphobia directed at our centre has been very loud lately. Though the threats are mainly online, the impact has been felt by both our staff and our clients. Sadly, we’re hearing from some of you that you’re afraid to come to the centre in person.”

The centre added: “We want you to know that every part of you is welcome here. In a trans-prejudiced world, we know that many of you are not safe and able to express your gender how you’d like. Whatever your gender expression and however you present, you’ll never be asked to disclose your gender history, or to justify your right to our support. We’re here for you.”

JK Rowling’s service, on the other hand, will only serve, and only employ, cisgender women.

Under the Equality Act 2010, transgender people are protected from discrimination, but services are able to exclude trans people from single-sex spaces if this exclusion is a “proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim”.

However, it is unclear how Rowling and Beira’s Place plan to ascertain whether a service user is transgender, nor how they plan to filter out trans people during their hiring process.

With no sense of irony, Rowling told Moore: “I don’t like ideologies of any kind. I have never met an ideologue who wouldn’t suppress a little bit of truth… You pick your tribe, you chant the mantras, and you defend everything to the death. Even if logic has to be convoluted.”

Beira’s Place told PinkNews: “Beira’s Place is a women-only service. Section 212 of the Equality Act 2010 defines a woman as a ‘female of any age’ and Beira’s Place services are for women aged 16 and over. The service is offered in accordance with the Equality Act 2010, which permits the provision of single sex services and a single sex staffing policy in various situations where there’s a good reason for them.

“Many women subjected to men’s violence feel safer and fare better in women-only spaces, and wish to have support sessions with females only, and we exist to meet that need.  We believe that women deserve to have certainty that, in using our services, they will not encounter anyone who is male.

“Where appropriate, we will refer we will refer men or individuals identifying as trans women to other appropriate services in the area, of which there are several.”

Rape Crisis Scotland said: “Rape crisis services across Scotland are experiencing huge demand for their services. This demand, combined with a lack of sustainable funding, is leading to some centres facing very difficult waiting lists.

“All 17 rape crisis centres which are part of the Rape Crisis Scotland network are subject to robust National Service Standards to ensure high quality support is available to survivors. In this demanding context, we of course welcome any new service which has rigorous safeguarding procedures in place and is staffed by highly trained professionals to support survivors of sexual violence.”

However, it added: “It is crucial that the life-saving support offered by rape crisis centres is available to trans and non-binary people.

“All rape crisis services in Scotland offer support to trans women and have done so for 15 years. There has not been a single incident of anyone abusing this.

“We continue to see the paths to equality for women and trans people are being deeply interconnected and dependent on shared efforts to dismantle systems of discrimination.”

JK Rowling declined to comment.

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