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Backlash as J. K. Rowling compares transgender hormone therapy to gay conversion therapy

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J.K. Rowling has caused a furore online after claiming that transgender hormone therapy is “a new kind of conversion therapy” for young gay people.

The Harry Potter author wrote in reference to gender transitioning on Twitter yesterday (July 5): “Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”

She posted the tweet after a Twitter user claimed she liked a tweet comparing hormone prescriptions to antidepressants. The tweet read: “Yes they are sometimes necessary and lifesaving, but they should be a last resort. Pure laziness for those who would rather medicate than put in the time and effort to heal people’s minds.”

Rowling appeared to claim that the screenshot of her “liked” tweet misrepresented her views. She went on to post a series of tweets to explain her views on mental health and trans women.

.K. Rowling arrives at the 2019 RFK Ripple of Hope Awards at New York Hilton Midtown on December 12, 2019 in New York City. CREDIT: Dia Dipasupil/Getty Images

“I’ve ignored fake tweets attributed to me and RTed widely,” she wrote. “I’ve ignored porn tweeted at children on a thread about their art. I’ve ignored death and rape threats. I’m not going to ignore this.”

She went on to say that she has antidepressants to help manage “OCD, depression and anxiety”, adding that “many health professionals are concerned that young people struggling with their mental health are being shunted towards hormones and surgery when this may not be in their best interests”.

The author continued: “As I’ve said many times, transition may be the answer for some. For others, it won’t – witness the accounts of detransitioners.” Rowling then posted a link to an account of a woman who has “detransitioned” after briefly living as a trans man.

It was in this series of tweets that she called transgender hormone therapy “a new kind of conversion therapy” for young gay people.

A 2019 research study by Stonewall shows that detransitioning is very rare. Of the 3,398 trans patients who spoke to the NHS Gender Identity Service between 2016 and 2017, less than one percent had expressed regrets about transition or had detransitioned.

Rowling’s comments caused a backlash online. Prominent trans activist Munroe Bergdorf said: “JK Rowling is not a scientist. She is not a doctor. She is not an expert on gender. She is not a supporter of our community. She is a billionaire, cisgender, heterosexual, white woman who has decided that she knows what is best for us and our bodies. This is not her fight.

“If you want to know what is best for trans people. Listen to trans people. More specifically, listen to black trans women who are navigating Covid-19, racism & transphobia. Listen to supportive parents of trans kids who have watched their kids flourish after being listened to.”

On Twitter user wrote: “I came out as trans 7 years ago, when I was 14. If hateful TERF like @jk_rowling had been my guardian and had forced me to wait until I was 18 to medically transition, I would be dead. That’s it.”

RuPaul’s Drag Race UK star was also offended by Rowling’s comments: “So when is @jk_rowling going to get taken down for her hate crime messages against the Trans community? AGAIN! The HATE she is spouting off is doing nothing but damaging an already vulnerable group of people and she must have reprocussions for her actions!”

Others, however, came to the writer’s defence. Twitter user Stephen Wilson wrote: Some in the LGBT community are giving @jk_rowling a lot of stick for this tweet. She is speaking the truth. It is possible to acknowledge this while showing respect, support and openness to trans people and those with GD.”

The latest outcry regarding Rowling’s views comes weeks after the author was criticised for speaking out against gender recognition laws.

She then wrote a lengthy essay to defend comments that led to her being accused of transphobia, and to explain why she felt the need to voice her opinions.

Leading up to this, Rowling had criticised an article shared on Twitter for its use of the term “people who menstruate” instead of women. Many claimed she was being transphobic because her comments suggested that you can only be classed as a woman if you menstruate.

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