Last month, comedian Eddie Izzard made headlines after announcing that she would prefer, going forward, to be addressed with she/her pronouns. Izzard has long identified as gender-fluid and remains an icon of such in Britain thanks to her decades of trailblazing representation. Of course, she faced immense transphobic abuse following the news, because Britain is currently in the midst of a wildly transphobe-dominated era of political and media manipulation. So, it was no surprise that Izzard was asked about one J.K. Rowling in a recent interview.
Rowling used to write books but now she mostly seems to stir up hatred against trans women on Twitter, wielding her immense influence to talk over trans and non-binary people online. Rowling has dominated the conversation so thoroughly, using her unbeatable power to drown out the voices of those who she has placed in harm’s way. This isn’t anything new. We’ve written about this a depressing number of times recently. Many famous figures, including a variety of Harry Potter actors, have refuted her bigotry. GLAAD condemned her.
Izzard’s own response was, well, a touch misguided, to say the least:
‘I don’t think J.K. Rowling is transphobic. I think we need to look at the things she has written about in her blog. Women have been through such hell over history. Trans people have been invisible, too. I hate the idea we are fighting between ourselves, but it’s not going to be sorted with the wave of a wand. I don’t have all the answers. If people disagree with me, fine, but why are we going through hell on this?’
OK, I get the basic message here: Why is there such furor over this issue when a unified front against centuries of systemic bigotry would be the best way forward? It’s a bit Pollyanna-esque but whatever. Not a terrible idea. Izzard is a center-left Labour Party figure, much like Rowling, so this doesn’t seem especially out of step with her typical politics.
But come on, Rowling is definitely a transphobe.
Oh, but read her essay, you say? The one where she claims that the trans movement ‘is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it’? The one where she repeated age-old smears about trans women and public bathrooms by claiming they ‘make natal girls and women less safe’? You know old Jo, the woman who told her fans to support a small business that made merch with slogans like ‘trans men are my sisters’ and ‘f**k your pronouns’. That non-transphobe who GLAAD called out for spreading a ‘misinformed and dangerous missive about transgender people.’ The woman who says she ‘want[s] trans women to be safe’ but is so toxic that she was forced to return a human rights award because of her hatred?!
Yeah, that one. Definitely transphobic.
All you need to prove that fact is check out the sheer number of Twitter accounts with #IStandWithJKRowling in their profiles that tore into Izzard last month, smearing her with transphobic abuse and calling her a danger to society. Maybe Rowling doesn’t think she’s transphobic but all the transphobes certainly do.
It’s not my business to tell Izzard what to believe, or to demand that she call out Rowling as public enemy number one. Still, given her prominence in the Labour Party, it would have been good of her to condemn this woman who wields immense power within the political sphere and stand with the trans and non-binary folks who are facing massive discrimination within their own ranks.
Rowling can’t be reasoned with. She doesn’t want to be. She’s surrounded by too many Yes People and so much money that the idea of being wrong seems foreign to her. She is keenly aware that her position of celebrity as a cishet woman with cash to burn gives her a louder and less contested platform to spew her oft-refuted nonsense than any trans or non-binary person on this planet, including Izzard. Why bother humoring that? It does nothing but further harm those who need help the most.
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