Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling set the cat among the pigeons today, when she made a series of tweets against the idea of sex being a social construct. While some called her out for her limited understanding of the difference between sex and gender, some others appeared to agree with the writer’s controversial stand.
Here’s what Rowling tweeted:
And Tweeple wasted no time in calling Rowling out for her ignorance and educating the author.
But many others, including cis gender women as well as members of the LGBTQIA+ community, jumped to Rowling’s defense as well.
It all boils down to the difference between sex and gender. For many decades, gender activists have argued that gender is a social construct; it is who a person feels they are irrespective of their sex assigned at birth. Sex meanwhile has been understood to be biological sex. However, of late an argument is being made about even sex being a social construct. Watch this video by transgender activist Riley J Dennis to understand this argument.
Usually, trouble arises when the terms sex and gender are used interchangeably, because this takes away power from people to self-identify. It is also harmful because it enables greater forms of discrimination, most notably using the washroom of one’s choice. There is a worldwide movement to have gender neutral bathrooms, but in a world where traditional gender roles and gender segregation are still strictly enforced in many cultures, and given the rampant trans-phobia of many educated people, this will no doubt be an uphill battle. But transgender people and allies will persevere and hopefully prevail in the not so distant future. For more information have a look at this list of transgender resources compiled by GLAAD.
*Feature Image: J.K. Rowling Official Portrait Photography Debra Hurford Brown © J.K. Rowling 2018 from J.K. Rowling’s official website