JK Rowling returns human rights award over trans comments criticism

The Robert F Kennedy Human Rights organisation gave Harry Potter creator its Ripple of Hope honour last year – but author said on Friday she is giving it back after one of its members criticised her views on gender issues.

JK Rowling has handed back an award given to her last year from a group linked to the Kennedy family in the US, saying its president “incorrectly implied” that she is “transphobic”.

The 55-year-old Harry Potter author has been at the centre of a row over trans rights.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The president of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights – a group which previously presented Rowling with an award – was among those who criticised the bestselling writer’s views.

Author JK Rowling.

Announcing her decision to hand back the Ripple of Hope award, Rowling wrote online that Kerry Kennedy, the organisation’s president and the daughter of the late senator Robert Kennedy, “felt it necessary to publish a statement denouncing my views” on the group’s website.

“The statement incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people,” Rowling said.

“As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community.”

She said in a post on her website: “In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year.

“I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.”

Rowling has previously said that she was partly motivated to speak out about the issue because of her experience of abuse and sexual assault.

Actors from the Harry Potter universe, including Daniel Radcliffe and Eddie Redmayne, have criticised the author.

Four authors resigned from Rowling’s literary agency after claiming the company refused to publish a statement in support of transgender rights.

Rowling wrote in her latest statement: “I’ve been particularly struck by the stories of brave detransitioned young women who’ve risked the opprobrium of activists by speaking up about a movement they say has harmed them.

“After hearing personally from some of these women, and from such a wide range of professionals, I’ve been forced to the unhappy conclusion that an ethical and medical scandal is brewing.”

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this story on our website. While I have your attention, I also have an important request to make of you.

The dramatic events of 2020 are having a major impact on many of our advertisers - and consequently the revenue we receive. We are now more reliant than ever on you taking out a digital subscription to support our journalism.

Subscribe to scotsman.com and enjoy unlimited access to Scottish news and information online and on our app. Visit https://www.scotsman.com/subscriptions now to sign up.

By supporting us, we are able to support you in providing trusted, fact-checked content for this website.

Joy Yates

Editorial Director


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.