A couple of months ago, celebrated author and creator of Harry Potter JK Rowling was mired in a LGBTQ controversy following a Twitter tirade considered “transphobic” by many activists. Today, that has resulted in the novelist giving back the heralded ‘Ripple of Hope’ Award bestowed by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Organization (RFKHR).
This is very unfortunate because JK Rowling is, if anything, a benefactor for causes. Her massive Harry Potter fortune has been donated to more than 30 global charities and causes through her own charitable trust, Volant.
Naturally, when someone goes so far beyond comprehension to sow good will into the world, people are going to notice and want to reward her for those efforts. Late last year, the RFKHR (led by the daughter of the slain politician Kerry Kennedy) honored JK Rowling with their Ripple of Hope award.
And today, it was mailed back with disdain. Why? How? Let’s find out.
The Trans-Gression of JK Rowling
There comes a point when you just can’t take it anymore and Kerry Kennedy reached that point a month-and-a-half later following a blog post and some errant tweets from JK Rowling. Starting with this one:
Then, some months later, she wasn’t done:
There are hundreds of sociological terms that have required reconsideration and redefinition because of the efforts and personal struggles of many, chiefly among them, the transgender community.
Words we have just begun to scrape a healthy definition moving forward like “AFAB“, “non-binary“, “misgendering” and “gender-fluid“. For some people, having to learn a new language to assuage the angst of a few (million) is too much to ask.
The article JK Rowling shared was focusing on all people who menstruate, which today means “not only women.” The chief Potterhead had a bad day and went off. Following that tweet, she did what she does best — writes.
She took to her personal blog to write “about her reasons for speaking out on sex and gender issues.”
The Trans-Formation of JK Rowling
Another word bandied about is “TERF“. It’s what people in the trans community call JK Rowling: “a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” In that profound blog post of more than 3,700 words, JK Rowling goes into five distinct reasons for her recent rash of trans activism. Most important among them was this:
I’ve been in the public eye now for over twenty years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor. This isn’t because I’m ashamed those things happened to me, but because they’re traumatic to revisit and remember.
I also feel protective of my daughter from my first marriage. I didn’t want to claim sole ownership of a story that belongs to her, too. However, a short while ago, I asked her how she’d feel if I were publicly honest about that part of my life, and she encouraged me to go ahead.jk rowling, blog post, june 10, 2020
So, you would think some would forgive her if she comes off a little unabashed with her views toward women’s liberation and right. But, this is the 21st century. Folk don’t read anymore, much less, care.
Remember that breaking point earlier. Earlier this month was Kerry Kennedy’s:
I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community—one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.Kerry Kennedy, RFKHR Statement
After seeing, reading, and considering that public ouster, JK Rowling decided she had enough hardware on her fireplace mantle and sent that thing back to Kennedy. To wit…
Because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year.
I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honor, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscienceJK Rowling, RFKHR Statement via her personal blog, august 2020
The Trans-Parency of Everyone Else
Sending back an award sucks because JK Rowling deserved that honor because of what it represents. Taking back the award sucks because Kerry Kennedy believed previous views from the award recipient didn’t hold up with what the namesake would have appreciated.
What really sucks is this: People are almost unable to disagree amicably anymore.
I don’t like your opinion, so…I’m a bigot, a hater, some troll, this big douchebag, a racist, or even a “transphobe.” When actually, if you would just ask, you may discover I am none of those things.
But asking requires interest and investment in another person, and these days, we seem to be so self-centered about esoteric opinion, that we would rather assume and go berserk than really discover what was the meaning behind those views.
Protesting for justice is another thing entirely. This is about public discord and private opinion.
If only we could elevate the level of conversation and debate, we may actually learn something about one another rather than sending back an award.
Both of these strong and steadfast women were right in what they did. What was wrong was the intersection where they met — next time, they should talk to each other instead of at each other.
That’s where the understanding and the healing begins.