In a statement on her website, J.K. Rowling returned the Robert F. Kennedy ‘Ripple of Hope’ Human Rights Award given to her in December 2019. The decision came after president Kerry Kennedy issued a statement earlier this month to say that J.K. Rowling’s recently expressed views “diminishes the identity” of transgender people.
Rowling was amongst several honorees at the 51st Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Awards in New York in December 2019, recognising leaders dedicated to “advancing positive social change,” from government, business, advocacy and entertainment.
Following this, Rowling posted a tweet regarding the Maya Fostater case, leading to an ongoing discussion about the author’s views on transgender people. More recently, Rowling published a lengthy statement titled “Reasons for Speaking out on Sex and Gender Issues” to her website, criticized by many Harry Potter stars (including Daniel Radcliffe), celebrities, non-profits, and fan community members.
Kerry Kennedy published statement this month to the RFK Human Rights website, displaying multiple statements made by Rowling in recent months, and saying on her opinions of these views:
“I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non-binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community.
Kennedy went on to say:
“Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision.”
This week, Rowling posted a statement to JKRowling.com, explaining that she was choosing to return her Ripple of Hope award after Kerry Kennedy “incorrectly implied” that she was transphobic:
“Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me,” she said on responses she had to her earlier statements.
“These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women.
“None of them hate trans people.”
After quoting newly-formed Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), and claiming that detransitioned women had spoken to her, she said she had been “forced to the unhappy conclusion that an ethical and medical scandal is brewing” regarding allowing transgender people to medically transition.
Explaining why she was returning the award, Rowling said:
“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.”
Emma Pocock, I am Senior Editor of leading Harry Potter website The Leaky Cauldron (the-leaky-cauldron.org) and have had the opportunity to interview people behind the films, plays, books, and products associated with J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World franchise. I’ve had my writing featured in a special ‘Fantastic Beasts’ edition of Newsweek magazine, reported from the global and U.K. premieres of ‘Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald’, and continue to seek opportunities to report on the global influence of the franchise.