A woman received support from legendary author, J.K. Rowling, sharing transphobic messages on Twitter.
In the summer of 2019, Maya Forstater, a business researcher and feminist, lost her job. This came as a result of expressing herself openly on social media about the UK government launching a public consultation on reforming the Gender Recognition Act 2004 towards ‘self ID’.
According to Forstater’s Crowd Justice account, she was concerned about the impact of self ID on women and girls. Forstater was particularly troubled about single sex spaces and services such as women’s refuges, hostels, prisons, changing rooms and hospital wards, as well as women’s sports. And this when it gets tricky.
Although Forstater claims to be against discrimination aimed at transgender people, in an official court document shared by Forstater herself, one could her forgiven for thinking the opposite. This correspondent has read the entire document to try and understand why so many people were tweeting with the hashtag, now trending, #IStandWithMaya. More importantly, I wanted to know why J.K. Rowling tweeted this:
Dress however you please.
Call yourself whatever you like.
Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you.
Live your best life in peace and security.
But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 19, 2019
And I also wanted to understand why many in the LGBTQ+ community and its allies were expressing strong disappointment.
It turns out that Maya has quite the Twitter history. As described in the official document, Forstater has a strong presence on social media: “She posted 2,994 tweets in 2018 (on average between 5 and 10 tweets a day).”
This is information directly taken from the document:
On 2 September 2018 the Claimant (Forstater) tweeted about the GRA stating “UK gov consultation on reforming the #GenderRecognitionAct –
proposes to dramatically change scope of the law; from requiring medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria for change of sex on birth certificate, to using the basis of ‘self identification’ … I share the concerns of @fairplaywomen that radically expanding the legal definition of ‘women’ so that it can include both males and females makes it a meaningless concept, and will undermine women’s rights & protections for vulnerable women & girls. … Some transgender people have cosmetic surgery. But most retain their birth genitals. Everyone’s equality and safety should be protected, but women and girls lose out on privacy, safety and fairness if males are allowed into changing rooms, dormitories, prisons, sports teams.”
I’m a proud trans Slytherin, darling, Hogwarts has been a safe space for lots of my siblings so, dear, pls cut the sh*t https://t.co/5M3EfpY2Ij
— Andrea Di Giovanni🌶 (@andreadgiovanni) December 19, 2019
Later in September 2018 the Claimant made a number of comments about Pips/Philip Bunce. Bunce is a senior director at Credit Suisse who wears dresses and a wig as Pips and who is reported as saying “for me, being gender fluid means I am non-binary, at no fixed point on the gender expression spectrum. I personally have no desire to transition” and was awarded a place on a list of the Top 100 Women in Business. Forstater’s comments were largely made on Twitter. They included the following:
““I’ve got a Q for my male twitter friends who have pledged not to appear on all male panels – if u were invited on a panel w Pip Bunce – one of FT’s top 100 female champions of women in biz & another guy would u say yes or call the organisers & say sorry I don’t do manels” [A manel is a panel with only men on it]
““Bunce does not ‘masquerade as female’ he is a man who likes to express himself part of the week by wearing a dress”
“Yes. & weird he felt entitled to accept the award, instead of saying “sorry there has been a mistake I am a man who challenges gender norms”
“He is a part-time cross dresser who mainly goes by the name of Phillip”
“Yes I think that male people are not women. I don’t think being a woman/ female is a matter of identity or womanly feelings. It is biology”
“Bunce is a white man who likes to dress in women’s clothes”
At the end of September 2018 the Claimant stated in a conversation on Slack, when challenged about what she had said about Pips Bunce:
“Thanks Arthur. Yes I think feminists and non gender conforming and trans people are natural allies. If you look at the people that are concerned about this they are lesbians, longtime LGBT activists, transsexuals, left wing campaigners.
“They don’t want to enforce gender conformity. But I think there are also a group of misogynist people, and others who want to undermine protections for women and children that have become entryists to the Trans Rights Activists movement that are not natural allies to women: gamergaters, incels, narcissists, extreme porn advocates.
“They are exploiting vulnerable young people and everybody’s empathy and concern to do the right thing in respect of them – (For an example see the recent case of … (I am not saying all trans people – -I know this sounds like ‘moral panic’ and I know most people just want a quiet life, but there is a dark side to some of the people making a political career out of arguing that males should be allowed into women’s spaces. – – this vocal group is never going to be on common ground with feminists, or benefit people suffering gender dysphoria or depression etc) You are right on tone.
“I should be careful and not unnecessarily antagonistic. But if people find the basic biological truths that “women are adult human females” or “transwomen are male” offensive, then they will be offended. Of course in social situations I would treat any transwomen as an honourary female, and use whatever pronouns etc…I wouldn’t try to hurt anyone’s feelings but I don’t think people should be compelled to play along with literal delusions like ‘transwomen are women’.”
On 30 September 2018 in a letter to Anne Main MP, the Claimant stated “Please can you not support the proposed new GRA, and instead make
space for a broader national conversation about how to reconcile the welfare of people who seek treatment for gender dysphoria and the basic human rights of women and girls. Please stand up for the truth that it is not possible for someone who is male to become female. Transwomen are men, and should be respected and protected as men.”
On 2 October 2018 the Claimant stated in part of her response to the complaints against her:
“I have been told that it is offensive to say “transwomen are men” or that women means “adult human female”. However since these statement are true I will continue to say them. Yes the definition of females excludes males (but includes women who do not conform with gendered norms). Policy debates where facts are viewed as offensive are dangerous. I would of course respect anyone’s self-definition of their gender identity in any social and professional context; I have no desire or intention to be rude to people.”
Claimant had retweeted transphobic material, which included:
A newspaper cartoon of a person flashing two women at “Hampstead Heath Ladies Pond” with the caption “It’s alright – it’s a woman’s penis”.A tweet by the Claimant stating: “Pronouns are rohypnol: important article by … Sure, sometimes preferred pronouns are polite, and we can be polite when we choose. Buy every women has learnt from experience that politeness is exploitable & can put us in danger.”
Forstater, undoubtedly, did articulate some transphobic views on social media. J.K. Rowling supporting the self-identifying feminist woman, is without a question, a disappointing act towards her younger transgender readers, who many have found refuge in the national treasure that is Harry Potter.
Forstater is currently using Crow Justice as a platform to fund for legal representation and take her case to employment tribunal on the grounds of belief, about sex and gender on her personal Twitter account.