What if I were to buy a pair of flippers and put them on? What if I were to then shake my arse about on a regular basis and adopt a diet of frozen peas and bits of stale bread? What if I decided to communicate orally solely through a series of quacking noises? What would that make me? Insane? Deluded? Confused? Happy? Perhaps I would end up all of those things but the one thing I most definitely would not become is a duck. You’re intelligent; you saw that coming, or at least I hope you did. With a shred of luck (as opposed to a shred of duck) and a half decent education you can probably see where I’m going next. Imagine if we could all always see what’s coming next.
I never really imagined there would be a moment in my life where I would feel compelled to defend J K Rowling. Indeed, I’m not even sure I am defending her in the strictest of senses; I’m just standing with her. I think she has a point. And in agreeing with her I suppose indirectly I am defending her right to speak freely and that right, in these times, gets more crucial by the day. Not only is there passion to her opinion but more importantly there is truth. Fact. Things that cannot be denied unless everyone is ready to deny the entire underlying concept of our mortal existence. I have never read any of Rowling’s books and have only ever been mildly distracted by screen adaptations of her work. I have never sat all the way through a Harry Potter movie and I can safely (and happily) say that I never will. All I really know about her is that she struggled a lot when she was younger and then she got through all that and made a good life for herself whilst managing to keep her feet on the ground and now she is being attacked for saying things that she believes and also saying things that cannot, in a real sense, hurt anyone.
I think I’m correct in saying that Rowling is fully in support of the transgender movement and surrounding community and like everybody else she has loads of friends who are transgender (I must confess that to my knowledge I have no transgender friends; this does not make me feel guilty just because everyone else apparently does, but if you are my friend and are secretly transgender then just say so, it wouldn’t bother me one jot but be warned it does not automatically qualify you for a crown and a rosette). I must hang out with the wrong people because at the moment it seems like half the world is transgender and the other half is their friend, and certainly in the universe that the J K Rowling celebrity and chums sub-genre has filled it is abundant with both.
I also think I’m correct in saying that Rowling has published a lengthy article stating why she feels uncomfortable with single sex spaces and her problems with the phrase “people who menstruate” (rather than the anatomically correct term – women). As you can probably tell I’m much too lazy to read the whole thing but I recognise that the general gist is that anyone can be as transgender as they like but no one can ever truly, completely change their gender to the extent that their former gender is no more. Not a hint of it. Nary a trace nor whisper. And you can harrumph all you want about that but it is a fact. It is undeniable. At the very least there will always be the memory of a gender past, and that is enough. I am very content for every community and movement to live in peace and harmony for all time. I am as different to the next person as the next person is to me and I wouldn’t want to be targeted for any of my manifold oddities; but regrettably some stand very firm on the notion that science can be outwitted by desire.
What amazes me also is the sheer ingratitude of some of those who have chosen to join in. Take Rupert Grint, for example. Who the fuck is Rupert Grint? What is he for? Better question – who the fuck would he have been if it hadn’t been for J K Rowling? Another nobody – that is not necessarily a fact but it’s a pretty safe assumption. He owes almost everything he has to J K Rowling but here he is turning his back on her. If it was me I’d keep my head down and remember who to thank. Maybe it’s a generational thing. Ditto Daniel Radcliffe, who I had been steadily learning to both like and respect but has now gone and ruined all that built up goodwill. Emma Watson also ‘completely supports the transgender community’ to the extent that she has stepped away from Rowling and now the author has even lost the backing of some of those frightfully sad Harry Potter fan sites like LotterPotterWank.com or WeShouldGetOutMore.co.uk (what a crushing loss). Where is the sense of loyalty? Disagreement shouldn’t mean distance.
As her friends and acquaintances choke in their hurry to leave Rowling stranded (and that even includes Eddie Redmayne, a half trick pony and threadbare ghost of an actor who even manages to make Radcliffe look diverse) she should find some comfort in the knowledge that not everyone thinks she has said the wrong thing or that she shouldn’t be entitled to her opinion. There is something that gasps of desperation in the actions of those who owe her their careers but have decided to kneel at the altar of the super PC brigade. Rowling’s comments are only offensive because she is dealing with a community that has allowed itself the delusion of empowerment necessary to feel offended by almost anything. The raise of an eyebrow. The twitch of a vein. A piece of toast.
That great philosopher, Rupert Grint, said recently “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment.” It’s easy enough to say that just to give yourself a few inches of breathing space and a pat on the head (worth remembering that in the trans world sometimes a few inches are all that matter). I suppose in an ideal world all that guff about love and judgement might be true but then who said the world was ideal and, more to the point, with this statement is Rupert not automatically judging the opinion of J K Rowling? There will never be a world without judgement, I’m afraid; to instinctively judge on some level is a great flaw of our species and it is an irreversible one. Women can try all they want to become men and the same can go the other way but whether they like it or not they will always have the odd flashback of being something else and so some facts can never be erased. It’s really a shame that it should all matter so much and take up so much time. Men and women and everything else in between: it isn’t easy being human but we all knew that anyway. How I crave the simple life of a duck.
G B Hewitt. 09.07.2020