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It’s ‘not fair’ to describe JK Rowling as a ‘transphobic bigot,’ according to Ireland’s broadcasting regulator.
The Harry Potter scribe has attracted the ire of LGBTQ+ campaigners and others in recent years for her problematic views on transgender people. She’s often dubbed a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist) online.
Amid the commentary around the author, a complaint was made after an Irish radio station called her a ‘transphobic bigot’.
For the first time in three years, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI) upheld a listener’s complaint over Rowling being called ‘transphobic, without providing any evidence to back this up’, as per The Journal.
The comments were made during a panel discussion on Today FM’s The Last Word with Matt Cooper in September last year. The contributor’s statement was challenged by other participants on the programme, despite it being a ‘very serious accusation’, according to the complainant.
The panel had been discussing tweets from Jedward, who’d criticised Rowling’s comments about transgender people, prompting the remarks.
In its defence, the broadcaster also said the definition of transphobia was ‘the irrational aversion, anxiety, discomfort or hatred of people because they are or are perceived to be transgender’, some of which they believed to be exhibited by Rowling. Also, it was part of a ‘lively miscellany in which opinions are encouraged’ rather than a transgender debate, as such.
The committee decided it had broken its Code of Fairness, Objectivity and Impartiality in News and Current Affairs. In its ruling, the BAI said, ‘The committee were of the view that, given the seriousness of the statements made by the panel member, and the lack of challenge by the presenter, the broadcast was not fair.’
Rowling’s controversy began with tweets taking issue with saying ‘people who menstruate’. She wrote, ‘I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
Rowling added, ‘If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.’
Other Hogwarts alumni have defended trans rights, including Daniel Radcliffe, Katie Leung, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, with the latter of whom writing, ‘Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.’
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