BBC Nominates Rowling’s ‘Transphobic’ Essay for Award, Draws Flak

In the essay, published in June, Rowling made remarks about the classification of trans women as women.

2 min read
File image of author JK Rowling.

The BBC's annual Russell Prize, announced on Monday, 21 December, triggered a controversy with the nomination including author JK Rowling, for a blog post where she ‘defended’ her right to speak about trans issues. The essay drew widespread criticism for being ‘transphobic’, soon after it was published in June 2020.

In her essay, Rowling made remarks about classification of trans women as women, and spoke about her history of sexual abuse in an attempt to put context to her previous comments.

The celebrated author of the “Harry Potter” series, wrote in the essay:

“I want trans women to be safe. At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe. When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman — and, as I’ve said, gender confirmation certificates may now be granted without any need for surgery or hormones — then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside,” she wrote in the essay.
JK Rowling

‘Transphobia Is Not Brave’

People on social media have called out BBC nominating Rowling for the Russell Prize –named after British writer Bertrand Russell – questioning how an essay that 'justified transphobia’ is being praised by the broadcasting channel.

They also added that her piece made ‘dangerous, discriminatory’ claims against members of the transgender community.

What’s BBC’s Response?

The United Kingdom’s public broadcaster defended Rowling's nomination by saying that even though Rowling stirred a controversy with her comments on transgenders, and that "offence is the price of free speech".

Lauding Rowling's "bravery" for writing the blog despite an outpouring criticism of her views, the BBC added that the nomination didn't mean it endorsed her point of view. The award "celebrates journalism and writing that honors the intellectual and moral virtues Russell's prose exemplified," BBC explained on their website.

Furthermore, Amol Rajan, Media Editor at BBC wrote, “We should all applaud bravery in writers – even those with whom we disagree. And Rowling’s essay contained moments of both real beauty and piercing honesty, as when she revealed that she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault.”

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