J.K. Rowling’s New Book—About A Cross-Dressing Serial Killer—Draws Outrage – Forbes

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Topline

The revelation that Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s latest book hinges on a male serial killer who dresses like a woman infuriated social media users Monday, after Rowling kicked up controversy in recent months over her views on transgender people, which critics denounced as transphobic.

Key Facts

Rowling’s new book, written under her pen name Robert Galbraith, is titled Troubled Blood and is the latest installment of a fictional crime series following private detective Cormoran Strike.

Troubled Blood’s villain is a “psychopathic serial killer,” according to the book’s Amazon page, and turns out to be a man who dresses as a woman.

Reaction on social media was swift, with #RIPJKRowling trending on Twitter by early Monday afternoon, as critics and former fans argued that Troubled Blood’s villain is another example of the author’s alleged transphobia.

“J.K. Rowling is single-mindedly obsessed with trans people and actively frames them as predators in her novels,” tweeted culture critic Elle Dawson, also referencing the second Galbraith book, The Silkworm, that was previously denounced for portraying a transgender character as aggressive.

Award-winning poet Saeed Jones wrote on Twitter: “I almost appreciate the effort JK Rowling is making to remove any vestige of nuance from our understanding of who she is and how she plans on using her time, energy and fortune.”

Rowling has not commented on this latest dustup, but previously defended her views on transgenderism in a blog post: “I refuse to bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it.”

Chief Critic

“Over in the real world the number of trans people killed in Brazil has risen by 70% this past year, young trans women are left to burn in cars and men who kill us (for being trans) are pardoned and sent home,” wrote transgender activist and journalist Paris Lees on Twitter, referencing news stories that highlight ongoing violence against the trans community.

Surprising Fact

There have been few real life serial killers who dressed up as women. The most famous might be Hadden Clark, who after murdering and burying 23-year-old Laura Houghteling near Bethesda, Maryland, in 1992, left the victim’s home dressed as a woman to throw off the neighbors. In entertainment, the transgender killer Buffalo Bill in the 1991 movie The Silence Of The Lambs has been blasted for portraying trans people as predators. 

Key Background

Rowling, who Forbes estimated to be the world’s highest-paid author in 2019 with $92 million in earnings, drew heated controversy in recent months over her stated beliefs on sex and gender. In December 2019, Rowling used Twitter to come to the defense of a British woman who lost her job for believing that biological sex should legally determine one’s gender in the U.K. In June, Rowling penned a lengthy blog post airing her views, saying that as a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor, she has “concerns around single sex spaces.” The blog post was widely panned, and Harry Potter film stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint  spoke out in defense of transgender people. 

Tangent

Also on Monday: Sex and the City star Cynthia Nixon told The Independent that her 23-year-old transgender son Samuel was devastated after hearing Rowling’s views. “It was really painful for him because so much of his childhood was tied up with Harry Potter.” 

Further Reading

JK Rowling’s latest book is about a murderous cis man who dresses as a woman to kill his victims (Pink News)

Vera Bradley Launches Harry Potter Line Amid J.K. Rowling’s Ongoing Twitter Battles (Forbes)

‘Sex Is Real’: JK Rowling’s Support For Woman Fired Over Gender Remarks Stirs Debate (Forbes)

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