JK Rowling defends ‘transphobic’ comments by revealing her painful past

JK Rowling previously caused a stir with her support of a woman who believes biological sex cannot be changed.

JK Rowling previously caused a stir with her support of a woman who believes biological sex cannot be changed. Photo: Getty

Harry Potter author JK Rowling has revealed she is a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault after facing major backlash over comments that were deemed transphobic.

In a 3600-word essay published on her website, the writer described her first marriage to Portuguese journalism student Jorge Arantas as “violent”.

In defending her right to speak about transgender issues without fear of abuse, Rowling further revealed she was sexually assaulted in her 20s.

The 54-year-old said she wondered whether she might have sought to transition to being a man if she had the chance.

“The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge,” she wrote.

But because it was the 1980s, Rowling said she “didn’t have a realistic possibility of becoming a man”, so “it had to be books and music that got me through”.

“I’ve been in the public eye now for over 20 years and have never talked publicly about being a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor,” she wrote.

The Harry Potter creator has long been a target of criticism by trans activists, who have taken issue with some of her social media posts.

She sparked backlash over the weekend after mocking a headline about “people who menstruate”.

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she tweeted on Sunday.

“Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

At times, the criticism she has received has taken the form of abusive language and threats of violence.

In her essay, she explained in detail her research and beliefs on trans issues, and the concerns she has about how women’s rights and some young people’s lives were being affected by some forms of trans activism.

“I haven’t written this essay in the hope that anybody will get out a violin for me, not even a teeny-weeny one,” she wrote in the conclusion, describing herself as “extraordinarily fortunate”.

“I’ve only mentioned my past because, like every other human being on this planet, I have a complex back-story, which shapes my fears, my interests and my opinions. I never forget that inner complexity when I’m creating a fictional character and I certainly never forget it when it comes to trans people.

“All I’m asking – all I want – is for similar empathy, similar understanding, to be extended to the many millions of women whose sole crime is wanting their concerns to be heard without receiving threats and abuse.”

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