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  • Writer's pictureAmy Nickell

JK Rowling and Nastygate: In defence of Nick Hilton

This morning, I discussed with Eamonn Holmes and Isabel Webster about whether JK Rowling deserves the title 'Britain's Nastiest Novelist'.

The debate was hooked to a piece in The New Stateman by Nick Hilton that referred to the Harry Potter author's current writing style as 'brittle, insecure and cruel'.

While I wouldn't direct personal insults in her individual direction; there is a notable parallel to the accused flavour of writing – JK Rowling's gender-critical politics.

The three words are the perfect descriptor of the gender critical movement, which is, indeed, 'brittle, insecure and cruel'.

The guise is that these groups are 'standing up for and protecting women's rights' while excluding a whole category of marginalised women.

In a nutshell, they conclude that transgender identities aren't really real, unlike biological sex, and legal recognition or rights would be some sort of luxury rather than necessity.


Such raw scepticism of transgender people platformed by someone with such huge influence has real-world consequences reflected in policy changes, hate crime statistics and shifts in societal attitudes.

Last year, 115 negative articles a month were written about trans people, up from 22 in 2016. Hate crime statistics rose by 11% last year while the government continues to up anti trans legislations.


JK has closely allied with people who say the Gender Recognition Certificate, the document that allows a transgender person to be recognised for who they are, is a 'legal fiction'.

Without one, transmen would be called a 'wife' and a trans woman 'husband' if they were legally married and come the day they passed away, neither death certificate would reflect the life they lived and the loved individual they were.

Brianna Ghey, the 16 year old who had her life brutally cut short last year will be remembered as a beloved daughter and granddaughter while her death certificate records her as male because at 16 she was yet to qualify for a GRC.


In cases that don’t involve legal documentation, such as a changing rooms or toilets, gender critical logic lands society back to policing women's bodies - which is most harmful to gender non-conforming women. Taller women, broad shouldered women and anyone perceived as masculine in any way are increasingly viewed with suspicion.


The rigidly binary viewpoint of sex and gender is almost always resistant to considering new information on the complexity of biology through endocrinology and neurology.

The truth is that the assignment of sex at birth isn't binding, and the assignment can be wrong.

Saying otherwise disregards not only trans identities but intersex people, which make up roughly 1 in 2,000 live births - hardly a rarity.

Its Feminism 101 is to push against the notion that a woman's fate is predetermined by biology – yet when it comes to transwomen, gender-critical thought prescribes just this.

That's why, unlike JK, I'm with Emma Watson, who told BAFTA: 'I'm here for ALL of the witches', trans and cis alike.



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