J.K. Rowling, the tirelessly transphobic author of the Harry Potter book series, has come under fire for recently sharing an article in which a cisgender inmate of New Jersey’s only women’s prison complained about being housed with transgender female inmates. Neither the article nor Rowling mentioned that the prison has a long history of guards raping and beating its cis inmates.
The article that Rowling shared — first published at Reduxx.info, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist (TERF) website with numerous articles opposing trans women’s rights in sports and female prisons — cited just one inmate at the Edna Mahan Correctional Facility for Women.
The cited inmate, Miseka Diggs, said that inmates who had been traumatized by cis men felt “scared to death” by trans inmates. Diggs said she herself felt uncomfortable showering around trans inmates who have not had bottom surgery, convinced that they were sexually leering at them.
The article repeatedly misgendered trans female inmates as “men.” It included no comments by prison officials nor mention of the high rate of physical and sexual violence that trans women experience when incarcerated in male prisons.
On May 28, Rowling published a tweet linking the article. In her tweet, Rowling wrote, “Vulnerable and traumatized women pay the highest price for luxury beliefs. These are the real world consequences of redefining woman to include the penised.”
Rowling’s tweet then quoted Diggs, who told the publication, “We feel like we are part of some sick joke. This is a nightmare that we can’t wake up from.”
However, numerous Twitter commenters pointed out that the prison has a history of rape and abuse committed by guards and civilian workers against the predominantly cis inmate population. The abuse, which was noted in a 2020 U.S. Justice Department report, got so bad that last June, the state’s governor announced his plans to close the prison. No date has been set for its closure.
The Justice Department’s report noted that officers regularly coerced prisoners into sexual acts, groped them during strip searches, and “routinely” demeaned them as “bitches” and “dykes.” Inmates described the systematic rapes as “an open secret” in the prison.
Prison cameras, meant to prevent assault and misconduct, regularly go unmonitored, the report added. Women who speak out against the violence were placed in solitary confinement as a punishment. The report concluded that “nearly every level of oversight” in the prison had failed to address the rape and violence there.
In 2016 and 2018, six correctional officers and one civilian staff member were charged with crimes related to sexual abuse. More recently, 15 prison officers were criminally charged and 30 staff members were suspended over bloody inmate beatings in January 2021 that resulted in one inmate having her skull broken.
Numerous social media commenters noted that Rowling chose to highlight a fear of transgender inmates instead of the very real cis-on-cis assaults already happening there. She has not publicly commented on the prison’s violent history.
Naturally, this is just the latest example of Rowling airing her transphobia. She first ended all doubt about her transphobic views in late 2019 when she tweeted support for an anti-transgender activist. Since then, she hasn’t stopped attacking transgender people, writing long essays denigrating them, repeating baseless conspiracy theories about kids being coerced into transitioning, and promoting transphobic merchandise vendors on social media.