Does J. K. Rowling's New Novel Mirror Anti-Trans Controversy?

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Wednesday August 31, 2022

J. K. Rowling
J. K. Rowling  (Source:Associated Press)

Prolific "Harry Potter" author J.K. Rowling has a new book in which the central character is targeted over perceived transphobia. Is it based on her own life? Rowling says it's not, NME reported.

Still, the parallels are striking, and Rolling Stone seemed skeptical. "The Harry Potter author writes about a YouTube cartoon creator who was doxxed by her own fandom over content viewers found transphobic and racist," the entertainment magazine said. "Sound familiar?"

Detailing the book's plot, Rolling Stone described a storyline centered around the murder of "Edie Ledwell, a creator of a popular YouTube cartoon who sees internet trolls and her own fandom turn on her after the cartoon was criticized as being racist and ableist, as well as transphobic for a bit about a hermaphrodite worm."

"The book takes a clear aim at 'social justice warriors,'" the article said, "and suggests that Ledwell was a victim of a masterfully plotted, politically fueled hate campaign against her."

But Rowling said she's not ripping the story from the headlines about her own controversy.

"I had written the book before certain things happened to me online," Rowling told Graham Norton on Norton's radio program. "I said to my husband, 'I think everyone is going to see this as a response to what happened to me,' but it genuinely wasn't," Rowling added. "The first draft of the book was finished at the point certain things happened."

"Rowling first drew headlines in 2019 when she publicly supported Maya Forstater, a British tax specialist who was fired over tweets that were deemed to be anti-trans," NBC News recalled. "Over the years, Rowling has doubled down on her views in several blog posts and tweets, which many critics have called transphobic."

"Rowling liked tweets that described trans women as 'men in dresses,' mocked an opinion piece that used the term 'people who menstruate,' .... and penned a lengthy statement in June 2020 about the reasons she was 'worried about the new trans activism,'" Rolling Stone said.

The new novel, titled "The Black Ink Heart," is "published under her pseudonym Robert Galbraith," and is "part of her crime thriller series 'Cormoran Strike,'" NME said.

The book was published on Aug. 30.

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.