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JK Rowling Gives Back Prestigious Kennedy Award After Being Criticized By RFK's Daughter

Bennett Raglin/Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

JK Rowling has been making the news quite a bit lately for an ever worsening stream of transphobia.

Her espousement of these harmful messages has led to criticism from many, including Kerry Kennedy, daughter of Robert F. Kennedy and president of Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights.

Kennedy condemned Rowling's recent trend towards blatant transphobia in a statement on the RFK Human Rights website.

"Over the course of June 2020—LGBTQ Pride Month—and much to my dismay, J.K. Rowling posted deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements."
"On June 6, she tweeted an article headlined 'Opinion: Creating a more equal post-pandemic world for people who menstruate'."
"She wrote glibly and dismissively about transgender identity: 'People who menstruate. I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?'"

Kennedy stated that she has spoken with Rowling about her inappropriate behavior but, given Rowling's reaction, the conversation doesn't seem to have been particularly fruitful.

"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."

Kennedy also took the time to refute Rowling's statements about sex and gender.

"From her own words, I take Rowling's position to be that the sex one is assigned at birth is the primary and determinative factor of one's gender, regardless of one's gender identity—a position that I categorically reject."
"The science is clear and conclusive: Sex is not binary."
"Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling's attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father's vision."
"As well, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 1: 'All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights…'."
"Women's rights are not degraded by the recognition of trans rights. On the contrary: A commitment to human rights demands a commitment to combat discrimination in all its forms."

That criticism was apparently too much for Rowling, as she decided to return the prestigious Ripple of Hope Award she was awarded last year.

Rowling also posted a rebuttal on her website, claiming that Kennedy's statement "incorrectly implied that I was transphobic."

"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 honour, 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 conscience."

Many have noted Rowling's growing trend of sharing rhetoric often espoused by Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminists (TERFs) that is intended to invalidate or harm trans people.

Rowling jumped to the defense of Maya Forstater, a woman who claimed that she was fired for tweeting "men cannot change into women." In point of fact, the organization she was contracted with simply chose not to renew her contract.

An employment tribunal judge, Judge James Tayler, later ruled that Forstater's statements were "incompatible with human dignity and fundamental rights of others."

Several Harry Potter actors have also made a point to voice their support for trans rights in the face of Rowling's discrimination, including Daniel Radcliffe. Some, including Emma Watson, have been vocal about their support of trans people for several years.

Watson shared a photo of herself wearing a shirt that says "Trans Rights are Human Rights" back in 2018.

Radcliffe shared his support via the Trevor Project, an organization whose mission is providing help and support to LGBTQ+ youth in crisis.

He didn't mince words in his support for trans women.

"Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either [Rowling] or I."