J.K. Rowling’s criticism of Scotland’s hate crime law raises concerns surrounding trans women

J.K. Rowling’s criticism of Scotland’s hate crime law raises concerns surrounding trans women

When Scotland’s new hate crime law went into effect Monday, among its loudest critics was author J.K. Rowling, who took it upon herself to publicly challenge the new law by deliberately misgendering transgender women and daring police to arrest her.

Rowling posted a thread on X about 10 trans women, whom she called men, and grouped activists and a broadcaster together with a convicted rapist and sexual offender in an apparent attempt to draw a connection between trans people and sexual perversion. She criticized Scotland’s new law, claiming the legislation is “wide open to abuse” by activists who want to silence people like her from speaking out about “the reality and immutability of biological sex.”

“I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment,” she wrote, adding the hashtag “#ArrestMe.”

Under Scotland’s Hate Crime and Public Order Act, it is a crime to incite hate against people based on their race, religion, disability, sexuality or gender identity. The legislation does not include biological sex as a protected characteristic, but the government has said that it is crafting legislation specifically aimed at tackling misogyny to protect women and girls, the BBC reported.

Rowling’s posts have been widely condemned, including by several of the activists she singled out — some of whom noted her claims about them were misconstrued and taken out of context.

Police Scotland said Tuesday that it is not pursuing criminal action against Rowling. “We have received complaints in relation to the social media post,” a police spokesperson said in a statement. “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

A lot has been written about Rowling’s rise as one of the U.K.’s most high-profile transphobes. Despite her fundamental misunderstanding of the differences between gender and sex, she has made her anti-trans crusade central to her public persona.

In testing the bounds of the new law aimed at protecting marginalized groups in Scotland, Rowling cast the lack of criminal action against her as a win for women’s free speech.

“I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women – irrespective of profile or financial means – will be treated equally under the law,” she wrote.

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