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Celebrities & authors are picking sides in J.K. Rowling’s war on trans people

J.K. Rowling at the world premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in 2010.
J.K. Rowling at the world premiere of "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" in 2010. Photo: Shutterstock

Over 50 British media figures signed an open letter defending J.K. Rowling in the face of criticism over her war on transgender people, but now hundreds of famous people in the U.K. and Ireland are showing their support.

The pro-Rowling letter, published in the Sunday Times, said that Rowling has been the victim of “an insidious, authoritarian, and misogynistic trend in social media,” that she is “an honorable and compassionate person,” and that the #RIPJKRowling hashtag on Twitter is a form of “hate speech.”

Related: Eddie Redmayne stands up for J.K. Rowling against internet “vitriol”

The signatories – which include screenwriter and novelist Ian McEwan, playwright Tom Stoppard, and outspoken opponent of trans rights and sitcom writer Graham Linehan – said that they signed the letter “in solidarity” with Rowling and to fight against “the targeting of women online.”

Earlier today, feminist bookstore The Second Shelf published their own open letter on their website in support of transgender and non-binary people, signed by over 200 British and Irish writers.

“We stand in support of trans and non-binary people and their rights,” the letter – which was signed by award-winning novelist Jeanette Winterson, young adult writer Juno Dawson, and former Children’s Laureate Malorie Blackman – states.

“Culture is, and should always be, at the forefront of societal change, and as writers, editors, agents, journalists, and publishing professionals, we recognize the vital role our industry has in advancing and supporting the wellbeing and rights of trans and non-binary people,” the letter says. “We stand with you, we hear you, we see you, we accept you, we love you. The world is better for having you in it.”

The pro-transgender letter doesn’t mention Rowling by name, but coming just days after the other letter, many in U.K. media are assuming that the subtext is Rowling’s months of attacks on transgender people.

The letter was also signed by two RuPaul’s Drag Race U.K. alums: Divina di Campo and Cheryl Hole.

While Rowling has been tweeting about transgender people for months, she faced increased criticism in the past several weeks when her new crime novel Troubled Blood was published. The book is about two detectives who investigate a cisgender man who wears women’s clothes to get close to women and kill them.

A week later, Rowling was promoting an online store that sells transphobic buttons, mugs, and other merchandise to her 14 million Twitter followers.

Here are the signatories of the pro-transgender letter:

Kiran Millwood Hargrave (author), Daisy Johnson (author), Juno Dawson (author), Jeanette Winterson (author), Robin Stevens (author), Sophie Anderson (author), Hellie Ogden (literary agent), Joanne Harris (author), Nikesh Shukla (author), Tom de Freston (writer and artist), Irenosen Okojie (author), Lex Croucher (author), Sarvat Hasin (author), Meena Kandasamy (writer), Sara Collins (author), Caroline Lea (author), Malorie Blackman (author), Elizabeth Day (author and podcaster), Carrie Hope Fletcher (actress and author),  Dom&Ink (illustrator and author), Katherine Webber Tsang (author), Charlie Morris (publicist), Clara Amfo (broadcaster), Professor Sunny Singh (writer and academic), Zeba Talkhani (author), Kerry Drewery (author), Patrick Ness (author), Sam Missingham (book marketer), Kevin Tsang (author), Alice Sutherland Hawes (agent), Alex Wheatle (author), Emma Pass (author), Sallyanne Sweeney (agent), Darren Stobbart (author and editor), Melinda Salisbury (author), Kat McKenna (marketing and brand consultant), Dave Rudden (author), Charlie Craggs (author), Nick Coveney (Pride in Publishing), Michelle Elman (author), Kate Weston (author), Celine Kiernan (author), Keris Stainton (author), Aaron Gillies (author), Deirdre Sullivan (author), Elizabeth Macneal (author), Catherine Johnson (author), Alice Broadway (author), Faridah Àbíké-íyímídé (author), Amy McCulloch (author), Susie Day (writer), Arun-Blair Manget (actor), Françoise Harvey (writer and editor), Connie Glynn (author), Cheryl Hole (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Courttia Newland (writer), Paul Black (publicist), Sophie Williams (author), David Owen (author), Iesha Small (writer), Nina Douglas (publicist), Anna James (author and journalist), Eve Ainsworth (author), Alex T Smith (illustrator), Sarah Maria Griffin (author), Katherine Woodfine (author), Kim Curran (author), Sam VH Reese (author and lecturer), Sue Rainsford (author), Jaime Windust (author and model), Chris Wellbelove (agent), Emma Patterson (agent), Eishar Brar (editorial director, Knights Of), Rebecca Rideal (author), Tanya Byrne (author), Hamza Jahanzeb (Pride in Publishing), Monisha Rajesh (author and journalist), Chloe Seager (literary agent and author), Kishani Widyaratna (commissioning editor, Picador), Niamh Campbell (writer), Alba Arnau (foreign rights executive), Guy Gunaratne (author), Sara Helen Binney (editor), Kwaku Osei-Afrifa (personal assistant to the CEO, Hodder Books), Laura Dockrill (author), Andrew James (editorial director, Jessica Kingsley Publishers), Abigail Mitchell (editor), Matt Casbourne (publishing consultant), Maisie Lawrence (editor, Hachette), Cleo Favaretto (desk editor, Bloomsbury), Halimah Manan (editorial assistant), Fiona Dunbar (children’s writer), Divina DiCampo (RuPaul’s Drag Race), Henry James Garrett (author/illustrator), Ingrid Persaud (author), Lea Albrechtsen (editor), Louisa Danquah (publicity assistant), Madeleine Bennett (sales), Beatrice Cross (publicist), Elaine Feeney (author), Ana Fletcher (editor), Rachael Lucas (author), Nicole Burstein (author), Jessica Andrews (author), Chris Gould (Designer), David Stevens (co-founder, Knights Of and Round Table Books), Aimée Feloné (co-founder, Knights Of and Round Table Books), Dean Atta (author), LD Lapinski (author), Isobel Sheene (sales operation executive),  Antony De Rienzo (key account executive), Polly Lyall-Grant (commissioning editor), Ali Gitlow (acquisitions editor, Prestel Publishing), Emma Jones (editor), Amina Youssef (assistant editor), Laura Callaghan (editor), Hayley Webster (author), Bea Fitzgerald (assistant editor), Alice Duggan (book designer), Ellie Drewry (editorial assistant), Elizabeth Lovatt (book buyer and writer), Emily Noto (publishing professional), Jasmin Atkins (international sales assistant), Lily Lindon (Editor), Erika Koljonen (editorial assistant), Poppy Mostyn-Owen (editor), Anna Baggaley (SEO manager), Liam Drane (book designer), Roisin O’Shea (marketing manager), Okechukwu Nzelu (author), Sophie Mackintosh (author), Leonora Craig Cohen (assistant editor), Katherine Rundell (author), Marian Womack (author,), Lauren Ace (editorial director and author), Izzy Everington (assistant editor), Maz Evans (author), Callum Kenny (editor), Megan Carroll (literary agent), Louie Stowell (publisher and author), Sophie Robinson (editor), James Mayhew (illustrator and author), Lucy Ayrton (author), Sharna Jackson (author), Stephanie King (commissioning fiction editor), Imogen Morrell (literary agent assistant), Barry Timms (children’s author), Michael Langan (writer), Kate Neilan (marketing executive), Matthew Casbourne (publishing consultant), Lizzie Huxley-Jones (author), Rachel Snider (writer), Rob Farrimond (junior publicity and marketing officer), Catherine Doyle (author), Alice Moloney (editorial assistant), Louise Rickwood (assistant editor), Katrina Northern (senior marketing executive), Becca Wright (editor), Dan Holloway (journalist/poet/novelist), Aimee Oliver-Powell (marketer) Wei Ming Kam (marketer), Zainab Juma (brand campaign manager), Marigold Atkey (senior project editor), Sarah Shin (publisher and co-founder, Silver Press and Ignota Books), Matt James (assistant editor), Emily Ball (children’s book editor), Sarah Hagger-Holt (author),  Siofra Dromgoole (book scout), Rochelle Dowden-Lord (sales executive), Maxine Davies (author), Allegra Le Fanu (editor), Josie Day (TV writer and producer), Naomi Greenwood (senior commissioning editor), Harriet Moore (literary agent), Brianne Bellio (project editor), Lauren Whybrow (editor), Joseph Elliot (author), Bethany Rutter (author), Alice Slater (writer and reviewer), James Smythe (author and screenwriter), Alison Hennessy (editor), Angelique Tran Van Sang (commissioning editor), Lauren O’Hara (illustrator), Natalia O’Hara (author), Ellie Slee (production editor), Mia Quibell-Smith (publicist), Hannah Trevarthen (events manager), Alex Reeve (author), Jennifer Tighe (marketing and publicity director), Carmella Lowkis (communications assistant), Olivia Sudjic (author), Dr. Sharlene Teo (author), Marion Rankine (writer) Bryony Gordon (author and journalist), Clare Bogan (publicist, Fitzcarraldo Editions), Kesia Lupo (author and editor), Phillipa Neville (editor), Lucy Scholes (critic), Kirsty Logan (author), James Birkett (editor), Rory Gleeson (writer), Will Forrester (editor and cultural manager), Doireann Ní Ghríofa (poet and essayist), Beth Watt (marketing assistant, Mslexia), Heather Parry (writer, editor and co-director of Extra Teeth magazine), Lilly Gottwald (senior designer), Juliet Mushens (Mushens Entertainment), Louise O’Neill (author), Ella Risbridger (author), Jo Morris (librarian), Samantha Shannon (author), Emma Glass (author and nurse), Julia Armfield (author), Jo Lloyd (author), Mary Watson (author), Krystal Sutherland (author), Lisa Williamson (author), A N Devers (writer and owner of The Second Shelf bookstore), Ibrahim Zanta (Pathways project manager), Holly Bourne (author), Molly Aitken (author), Natasha Pulley (author), Lucy Powrie (author), Alexa von Hirschberg, (editorial director), Carrie Plitt (literary agent), Lisa Gillespie (D&I Programme Manager, DK), Naoise Dolan (author), Max Porter (author), Sinéad Gleeson  (author), Jacques Testard, (publisher, Fitzcarraldo Editions), Lucia Osborne-Crowley (author), Peter Bunzl (children’s author), Eloise Williams (author), Dr Mary Jean Chan (poet).

And here are the signatories of the pro-Rowling letter:

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