Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional nor an expert on transgender issues. I am no more qualified to have or express an opinion on these topics than any of the other thousands of people weighing in and throwing stones.
In all honesty I had not been following the recent controversy surrounding JK Rowling all that closely. Primarily this was because I don’t believe we should control or be controlled by the opinions of others, and secondly because I don’t believe that we should value the opinions of celebrities to the degree that we do. However, I did finally read the essay Rowling published on her website explaining why she decided to speak out about sex and gender issues, an essay which I was surprised to learn had been published weeks earlier. Despite the barrage of headlines I saw popping up about Rowling’s conflict with trans-activists, it was nearly a full month after the publication of her essay that I saw the headline that she had written such a response. Having read the essay and some (not all) of the many tweets surrounding the controversy, I can say that I stand in support of JK Rowling. I have outlined the three main reasons for my support below.
1. Free Speech. One of the five reasons she gave in her essay for speaking out was freedom of speech, and I agree that this is a right we need to guard vehemently. Our ability assess things, come to our own conclusions, and engage in a free exchanging of ideas with others in which conclusions can be challenged, is the cornerstone of growth, improvement and progress. When we react to an idea with such hostility as is being displayed toward JK Rowling (such as name-calling, sexual harassment, death threats, etc.), this is not a reaction that could be categorized as disagreement with an idea, but rather is a clear attempt to silence her.
When we shut down the discussion of controversial topics, we are hindering the growth and learning of our society, and sometimes doing a disservice to the very people we are trying to protect. Keeping difficult or inflammatory topics relegated to the shadows deepens the culture of secrecy and silence that smothers the voices of the lonely, hurting, marginalized and vulnerable who are suffering in those shadows, gagged by society’s unwillingness to examine what goes on in the dark. It’s a story we hear from victims of abuse time and time…