A woman who misgendered a Dundee councillor has been given support from an unexpected source – Harry Potter author JK Rowling.
The children’s author has lent her support to researcher Maya Forstater on Twitter after the worker lost a landmark employment tribunal case for making “intimidating, hostile” comments about trans people.
Rowling – who sometimes authors books under the male nom de plume Robert Galbraith – wrote: “Call yourself whatever you like…but force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya.”
OMG! We are all crying. This is all i wanted for Christmas https://t.co/5ucPGUHIxY
— Maya Forstater (@MForstater) December 19, 2019
Forstater lost her job with think tank CGD Europe last year after other staff raised concerns about allegedly transphobic remarks she made on social media, including retweeting a cartoon of a person flashing two women with the caption: “It’s alright – it’s a woman’s penis.”
In August this year, after losing her job, Forstater was the subject of a complaint by Dundee councillor Gregor Murray, who claimed she had misgendered them as a man.
The North East councillor – who quit the SNP in May after claiming the party was transphobic – identifies as gender non-binary and prefers to be addressed by the pronouns “they/them”.
In response to Murray’s complaint, Forstater stated: “In reality Murray is a man. It is Murray’s right to believe that Murray is not a man, but Murray cannot compel others to believe this.”
However, employment judge James Tayler has ruled that Forstater’s views – with particular reference to the Dundee councillor – were incompatible with the human rights of others.
He wrote: “It is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Murray has welcomed the judgement – but expressed disappointment at Rowling’s stance.
The Potter author has previously landed herself in hot water for liking a Tweet which referred to trans women as “men in dresses” – described as a “middle-aged moment” by her representative.
In an exclusive statement to the Tele, they said: “The judgement is very welcome, and trans people up and down the UK will be relieved to have it confirmed that such extremist views are not without consequence.
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“She has wasted £80,000 so far on this case, to defend her outright transphobia, and I hope that she does the decent thing and accept that she was in the wrong.
“The intervention of people such as JK Rowling is unhelpful at best. Using her nearly 15 million followers to whip up yet more hysteria against trans people is absolutely unacceptable, and she should be ashamed of herself.
“On a personal note, as someone who grew up with the Harry Potter books, I am absolutely gutted to see her spread such malicious messages.”