The definition of 'woman' returns to center stage this month as a new podcast frames the Harry Potter author as the victim of a modern day witch trial. Here’s why we should care.
Thanks for the well considered article. I was a very young child when everyone started talking about a local landowner who was trying to annul his marriage to April Ashley despite knowing her history before he married her. April had attempted suicide before moving to Paris and earning enough money to have sex reassignment surgery in Casablanca. The media outed her in 1961(?) so whipped up moral outrage goes back decades.
I find it frustrating that it seems like an all or nothing proposition when it comes to supporting trans people, or not. If I don't agree with all of the facets connected to transgender issues and I say so, then I'm a bigot. Like you said, this is nuanced. The result of this is that many feel unfree to speak about any concerns, lest we be canceled. Thank you.
You’ve raised questions I hadn’t thought about before, and I’m really grateful for your input. As you’ve pointed out, there really are several layers to this topic. It’s unfortunate that it’s been weaponized by some for political reasons.
Thanks for taking the time to read this longer-than-usual exploration of a complex subject. And for contributing to the discussion. I really appreciate it.
Thanks for this thoughtful analysis. As we know, many people of one sex show mannerisms and behaviors more traditionally assigned to the other. Some trans people are so authentic in their new surgically- and hormone-enhanced identity that no one would suspect they were once other than how they present. As to identity: how much is based on gender? ...the conditioning influences of family, social roles, culture, religion, etc? ...Should gender and identity be separate? What about environment? A child born in the U.S. is exposed to hundreds of chemicals over the course of their lifetime. One Harvard study detected 287 chemicals in babies' umbilical cord blood; 75% of which were toxic. Is gender 'dysphoria' a possible outcome to this exposure? Is this really about choice? I haven't followed Rowling but can imagine struggling with the idea--that transitioning into looking like a woman somehow equates to a life-time of lived experience as a woman. Sigh. Many layers to this issue obviously.
*In the 5th novel in her crime fiction series "Troubled Blood," Rowling's serial-killer villain abducts at least two women by crossdressing in female clothes. So far, I've only read the first few chapters of this book, but this material certainly makes the case Rowling makes in her essay regarding England's Gender Recognition Act. It depicts her worry that anyone claiming to be a woman could use crossdressing as a disguise in order to lure biological women into danger and ultimately do them harm.
There are so many different transgender flash points, including: trans women in women’s sports, puberty blockers for children, the “which bathroom” question, and (some) feminists’ concerns that women are being marginalized once again by men (to name a few). I think a lot of people who are labeled anti-trans might have concerns about one or two parts of a very complicated issue. It’s not so easy to say whether you’re for or against each of the separate issues that surround the trans movement, but it should be easy to accept transgender people and treat them with respect and kindness.
A thorough and thoughtful treatment of a complex issue. I couldn't agree more with the compassionate conclusion. To each his/ her/their own, no?
Thanks Andrew. You covered a lot of information and suggested another approach to explore Rowling's comments and this topic of the definition of a "woman." preK-12 schools are also grappling with providing safe environments for students while also managing what state legislation is proposing almost daily. Book recommendation: This is How it Always is by Laurie Frankel. Although her book is about a transgender boy the story speaks loudly to what you address in your article. Thanks.