Accuracy in Media

J.K. Rowling is fomenting trans hatred, she’s describing the law in Scotland, the country she lives in. This apparently is something that Vice isn’t capable of understanding.

The magazine says that in a piece headlined, “J.K. Rowling Just Won’t Stop Attacking Trans People Online,” which also states that “[t]he comment is only the latest in a string of efforts by the once-beloved author to amplify a narrative that’s not only essentially false but also ignores the devastatingly high level of violence experienced by trans people.”

This is all in reaction to this tweet sent:


Or the lines: “War is Peace. Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength,” Rowling tweeted. “The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.” “

The background to that is that the Scottish police force has declared that the gender of those charged with a crime will be recorded as the self-declared gender. We might think this is just fine, except Scottish law (which is different from English) states that rape is a crime that can only be committed with a penis. So, it is possible that a transwoman could be charged with rape and recorded as a woman in the crime statistics – for a crime that one must physically make to commit. 

This is what Rowling is talking about, not any hatred of anyone trans nor ignoring any level of violence that might be directed at them. 

It is also true that self-declaration is to be taken as the definition for those found guilty and sent into the prison estate. So, a penised rapist who self-declares as female would be sent into the women’s prison. This has actually happened in England, the country next door, where the rapist promptly – allegedly, the case has not been tried yet – assaulted at least one other woman inmate. 

This is not hatred nor ignorance of violence. It’s pursuing what seems the obviously correct line of inquiry. We do indeed all want people to be their own true selves. The difference between male and female – as PJ O’Rourke once pointed out – doesn’t matter most of the time, like when trading bonds, matters enormously at others, like when making babies. The trick is to know when this matters and what should be done about it when it does.

Vice really needs to grasp – so that it can inform its readership – that concerns about the margins of trans definitions is not the same as hatred towards those trans. Noting that women can now be convicted of rape in Scotland, a crime that requires the use of a penis, is not ignoring anti-trans violence. It is, in fact, a sensible query over when self-declaration is, or is not, sufficient as the definition of a woman.

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