How to listen to JK Rowling’s sure-to-be divisive new podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling

Harry Potter author JK Rowling in front of trans Pride flag colours

JK Rowling is set to discuss the controversy around her views on gender in a sure-to-be agitating new podcast series, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.

Billed as a “new audio series featuring extensive interviews with the world’s most successful author”, the podcast will see Rowling speak to author Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member of the notoriously anti-LGBTQ+ Westboro Baptist Church who has since renounced its teachings.

Announcing the The Witch Trials of JK Rowling on Twitter on Tuesday, 14 February, Phelps-Roper revealed she wrote to Rowling last year inviting her to “be part of a conversation seeking to understand her perspective and those of her critics”.

The podcast host added: “As someone with deep roots in extremism, rescued by the good will of those who engaged me: I know the value of good-faith conversation in bridging the deepest divides. Even – and especially – when it feels dangerous.”

JK Rowling in a blue dress wearing silver earrings
Harry Potter JK Rowling has been criticised for her views on trans rights. (Getty)

A follow-up tweet from Phelps-Roper promoting the first episode teased: “How do you know if you’re standing up for what’s right – or joining a moral panic?”

Where can I listen to The Witch Trials of JK Rowling?

The Witch Trials of JK Rowling is set to premiere on Tuesday, 21 February 2023 and you’ll be able to listen on all podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Audible.

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The Witch Trials of JK Rowling is produced by The Free Press, an independent media company founded by US journalist Bari Weiss – a writer with a history of promoting and platforming gender critical and anti-trans views.

What is the podcast about?

The Witch Trials of JK Rowling looks set to centre on Harry Potter author’s comments about trans and non-binary people and the online firestorm they have created in the two and a half years since the publication of the writer’s ‘TERF Wars’ essay in June 2020.

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Rowling’s opposition to policies and legislation designed to increase the dignity of trans people have seen former Harry Potter actors distance themselves from the series creator, and have led to calls to boycott the recently-released Hogwarts Legacy video game, which Rowling is set to profit from.

A trailer for the series sees Rowling address the backlash against her, saying: “What has interested me in recent years, particularly on social media, is when fans say, ‘You’ve ruined your legacy. Oh, you could have been beloved forever, but you chose to say this.’ And I think: ‘You could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.’

In a series of tweets following the podcast’s announcement, Rowling wrote: “Last year, I received a long, thoughtful letter from @Meganphelps, inviting me to take part in a personal, in-depth discussion with her about the issues that have interested me in recent years.

“Megan proposed bringing in other voices, and looking at the wider picture, bringing her own unique viewpoint as a former fundamentalist who’s dedicated her life over the past decade to difficult conversations.

“I agreed to sit down with Megan because, having read her wonderful book, Unfollow, I thought the two of us could have a real, interesting, two-sided conversation that might prove constructive.”

A separate personal essay by Phelps-Roper accompanying the announcement of the series gives the impression that calls for communication and compromise between gender critical campaigners and supports of trans equality will form a large part of the series.

Megan Phelps-Roper speaking at an event.
Megan Phelps-Roper has been critical of the anti LGBTQ+ Westboro Baptist Church since leaving in 2012. (Getty)

“I remain a believer in the power of conversation,” writes Phelps-Roper. “The ones I had for this series challenged my assumptions and showed me that this conflict is even more complex than I had imagined. I don’t pretend to have answers to the deep questions at the heart of this series. But I’m more persuaded than ever that talking – and listening – will help us find the path forward.”

In response to a Twitter user accusing the podcast of bias by implying that Rowling is the subject of a ‘witch trial’, Phelps-Roper replied that the title is intentionally “ambiguous”.

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“Toward the end of our conversations, I spent a long time talking with @jk_rowling about discernment,” the podcast host wrote. “About how a person can ever know if they’re standing up for what’s right—or joining a moral panic. I think you’ll be surprised by the thoughts [Rowling] shares.”

You can listen to The Witch Trials of JK Rowling on podcast platforms including Spotify, Apple Podcasts and Audible.

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