JK Rowling credits anti-mask doctor with influencing trans views in Witch Trials podcast

JK Rowling at a red carpet event.

JK Rowling has credited an anti-mask, lockdown-critical GP for influencing some of her views on trans youth, in the latest episode of podcast series, The Witch Trials of JK Rowling.

The limited series podcast, which began in February, attempts to delve into the controversy surrounding Rowling’s views on what she calls “quasi-religious” transgender groups.

In the latest, and final, episode, many of her assertions go uncontested and, as an attempted representative for the middle-ground between pro-trans activists and Rowling herself, podcast host Megan Phelps-Roper rarely challenges the response to her questions.

In the 28 March episode, titled “What If You’re Wrong?”, Rowling is asked to justify why she thinks gender-affirming care for trans youth is somehow creating an epidemic of confused children.

She accuses pro-trans activists of creating “quite a threatening climate” by intimidating those who have “concerns”.

JK Rowling at a red carpet event.
JK Rowling has been routinely criticised for her views on trans rights. (Getty)

Rowling references a 2019 interview with physician and the director of the Centre of Evidence-Based Medicine at Oxford University, Carl Heneghan. Speaking to The Times in 2019, he likened trans youth using physically reversible hormone blockers to an “unregulated live experiment”.

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Rowling says: “He was instantly condemned as a transphobe by, I think, the Oxford University’s LGBT society.”

In the article, Heneghan said that he had been told by former clinicians that children were being wrongly diagnosed with gender dysphoria.

In response, the Gender Identity Development Service (GIDS), a nationally operated health clinic commissioned by NHS England, said there was no evidence of “immediate issues in relation to patient safety or failing in the over-all approach taken by the service”.

Additionally, the Oxford Student Union LGBTQ+ Campaign said Heneghan’s comments were “fear-mongering” and that the related article “[attempts] to give credibility to a transphobic rhetoric which is harmful”.

The group added: “Conspicuously absent from both pieces are the voices of transgender people who have used the services provided by GIDS. Ignoring the perspective of the people who matter most in this issue, transgender children, is entirely unbalanced reporting.”

Heneghan also made headlines after making claims about the COVID-19 lockdown, as well as about the efficacy of masks during the pandemic. He also questioned whether the virus could be transmitted in the air.

In an article for The Spectator, he claimed that “wearing masks in the community does not significantly reduce the rate of infection”.

In response, the executive editor of the British Medical Journal (BMJ), Kamran Abbasi, said that Heneghan had misinterpreted the study he used to justify his claim, adding that it was possible to disagree with Heneghan about the “robustness” of the research.

Megan Phelps-Roper leaves claims unchallenged

None of this is raised in Phelps-Roper’s podcast, and Rowling isn’t challenged on the example she uses to suggest the presence of what she describes as “threatening” trans rights activism.

It isn’t the only claim by Rowling that goes unchallenged. She also claims GIDS had seen a 4,000 per cent rise in referrals of people assigned female at birth.

Referrals across a 10-year period did increase from 77 in 2009 to 2,590 in 2019, with assigned female at birth referrals increasing from 32 to 1,740, and several “gender-critical” activists use these figures to imply there is some sort of social contagion around being trans.

However, the increase is believed to be due to a culmination of awareness of trans identities increasing drastically over the past and improvements made to healthcare systems over time.

It’s also worth noting that this increase includes referrals rejected by GIDS.

In the final episode of the podcast, Rowling also claims “women are the only group, to my knowledge, that are being asked to embrace members of their oppressor class unquestioningly.”

The claim is left unchallenged by Phelps-Roper.

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