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JK Rowling reported to police for throwing transphobic insults at talk show host

J.K. Rowling, The Ickabog, transphobia
J.K. Rowling Photo: Shutterstock

Author J.K. Rowling has been reported to the police by British TV broadcaster India Willoughby for misgendering her. This follows a years-long feud between the two triggered by the Harry Potter author’s history of transphobic comments.

“J.K. Rowling has definitely committed a crime,” Willoughby, the first transgender talk show host in the United Kingdom, said in an interview with Byline TV. “I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman, and she called me a man. It’s a protected characteristic, and that is a breach of both the Equalities Act and the Gender Recognition Act. She tweeted that out to 14 million followers.”

The police report was initiated due to comments Rowling made earlier this month on Twitter, in which she called Willoughby a “man” who is “narcissistic, shallow, and exhibitionist,” further calling her a “cosplaying misogynistic male fantasy of what a woman is.”

Willoughby, who appears on Loose Women and has competed on Celebrity Big Brother —  Year of the Woman, directly responded to these comments by saying in a now-deleted post on X, “Genuinely disgusted by this. Grotesque transphobia, which is upsetting. I am every bit as much a woman as J.K. Rowling. Recognised in law, and by everyone I interact with every day. The debate about whether JK Rowling is a transphobe is over.”

Additional comments were made by Rowling in which she defended her misgendering of Willoughby, in which she claimed “there is no human right to universal validation.” The talk show host responded by saying in an additional now-deleted post, “If I ever get murdered, you know who to blame. #StochasticTerrorism.”

Stochastic terrorism is a term used to describe when a public media figure attacks a specific target with the intent of sending their supporters after the target to inflict further harm.

As a result of these posts, Willoughby states that she’s been subjected to “some of the worst abuse I’ve ever seen,” citing actions by the many accounts that follow Rowling and support the type of comments that she’s made.

Following this incident, Willoughby contacted the Northumbria police department, stating that this incident constitutes a hate crime. Byline TV says that this could lead to the arrest of Rowling.

In response to this interview, Rowling has stated that lawyers she talked to advised her she may have a case for defamation. She went on to cite alleged posts on X by Willoughby as examples of Willoughby making bigoted comments. She concluded by further misgendering Willoughby and using the Maya Forstater ruling in defense of her comments.

In 2021, British gender critical activist Maya Forstater successfully won a U.K. discrimination case in which she was fired for stating that transgender women are men. This has been used to establish a legal precedent that gender-critical – that is, TERF, trans exclusionary radical feminist, or transphobic – beliefs are legally protected and are not inherently hate speech.

In a statement to Rolling Stone, Northumbria Police stated, “On Monday, March 4, we received a complaint about a post on social media. We are currently awaiting to speak to the complainant further.”

Rowling has a long history of transphobic comments. She has previously implied that she makes too much money to care about the plight of trans people, and late last year has stated that she would gladly go to prison for misgendering trans people.

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