SNP leadership candidates say JK Rowling is ‘courageous’ and ‘a national treasure’

Two SNP leadership candidates agreed JK Rowling was a “national treasure” during a televised debate.

The Scottish author of the Harry Potter book series has been subject to backlash for her stance on transgender issues, which some critics have described as “transphobic”.

Ash Reagan, Hamza Yusuf and Kate Forbes were asked if Rowling was a “national treasure” during the leadership debate on Sky News on Monday (13 March).

Youssef, the Scottish government’s health secretary, said the author was “brilliant in terms of the books she’s written, but I don’t strongly agree with her on the issue of transgender rights”.

But Forbes and Reagan disagreed. “Yeah, and I think she’s brave,” Forbes said in response to the question.

When asked specifically if she disagrees with Rowling on transgender rights, Forbes replied, “No, I don’t disagree with her.”

Similarly, Reagan replied, “I think she’s a national treasure, yes. I think she was very brave to speak out about an issue where many women who raised legitimate concerns were receiving very threatening communications.”

Last year, Rowling wore a T-shirt calling predecessor of female candidates Nicola Sturgeon a “destroyer of women’s rights.”

The statement was made on Sturgeon’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which aims to make it easier for transgender people to be legally recognized as their gender of choice.

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Sturgeon responded to Rowling’s criticisms, saying, “I’ve spent my whole life campaigning for women’s rights and I’m a feminist and I have a lot of evidence behind it.”

Rowling began receiving criticism on transgender issues in December 2019, when she came out in support of researcher Maya Forstetter, a visiting fellow at the Center for Global Development whose contract was not renewed after she made a number of anti-trans posts on social media.

In June 2020, Rowling advocated an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate”.

You can read The IndependentChronology of JK Rowling’s comments on women’s and transgender rights here.

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