J. K Rowling ignited a new trans war of words on Twitter last night with singer-songwriter Billy Bragg as she claimed ‘bearded men’ define what a woman is and suggested he was ‘throwing [his] support behind threats of rape and death’.
The row erupted over an interview by Graham Norton at the Cheltenham Literary Festival last weekend, where he strongly criticized cancellation culture.
Bragg, 64, retweeted a video of the interview and said Norton was “really good” about cancellation culture, “and J. K. Rowling”.
The 57-year-old author then saw the tweet and attacked the singer, saying he was “enjoying the recent spate of bearded men confidently stepping on their soapboxes to define what a woman is and back up their rape threats and death”.
But Mr. Bragg did not define what a woman is at any point in his original tweet and simply supported Mr. Norton’s suggestion that people discuss trans issues with parents of trans children or doctors and psychologists, rather than refer to the perspectives of celebrities.
After Ms Rowling – who was also recently embroiled in a row with Nicola Sturgeon over legislation to help trans people self-identify in Scotland – appeared to suggest that both Mr Norton and Mr Bragg were “misogynists”, she received widespread backlash from social media users for a claim for which she provided no evidence.
In Mr Norton’s interview, the TV presenter criticized those who claim they have been ‘cancelled’ but still have a large platform and have been seen writing articles or being interviewed about the issue.
He added that “cancel culture” is “the wrong word” and should instead be replaced by “responsibility” for what people say.
It follows a bitter row with Nicola Sturgeon over legislation to help trans people self-identify in Scotland.
J. K. Rowling “I am thoroughly enjoying the recent spate of bearded men confidently stepping on their soapboxes to define what a woman is and lending their support behind threats of rape and death to those who dare to disagree”
Billy Bragg, 64, tweeted in support of Graham Norton’s comments, adding that he answered a question about JK Rowling well
The interviewer asked Norton about J. K. Rowling especially in light of his comments.
He declined to comment on her stance on transgender issues, but said: “When they ask me about it, I become a part of it.
“My voice adds nothing to this discussion and I’m kind of embarrassed to be dragged into it in any way.
“If people want to shed light on these issues, then talk to trans people. Talk to parents of trans kids, talk to doctors, talk to scientists.
“Talk to someone who can shed some light on it.”
Sharing the interview with his followers, Mr Bragg said: “Norton is really good here for John Cleese, telling him the ‘cancellation culture’ is just accountability, and J. K. Rowling, suggesting that the media speak directly to trans teens and their parents, rather than simply amplifying the perception of a celebrity.
But Ms Rowling was quick to hit back, writing: “I’m very pleased with the recent wave of bearded men confidently stepping on their soapboxes to define what a woman is and throwing their support behind rape and death threats to those who who dare to disagree.
“You can make fun of yourself, but it takes real courage to pass yourself off as an Old Testament prophet.”
He also appeared to make a thinly veiled attack on Mr Norton and Mr Bragg claiming they were misogynists, adding in response: “I like beards. I just don’t like them when they’re attached to misogynists.
Mr Bragg later responded to her tweet and said: “It’s hard to think of anything that better illustrates Graham Norton’s point than the sight of someone with 13.9 million followers responding to the call for fair hearing from trans teens and their parents, equating it to *checks notes* support for rape and death threats.’
Her misogynistic comments sparked a backlash on social media, with countless social media users questioning how Mr Norton could have engaged in such behavior in advocating for people to discuss transgender issues with experts and those affected.
Singer Simon Curtis responded: “Graham Norton is a misogynist because he says the media should get commentary from experts instead of looking for clickbait celebrity quotes, and Matt Walsh, a living parody of a ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ villain, is your new friend?
“What have you become?”
A second said the author had “lost the plot”.
J. K. Rowling has courted controversy over her views on transgender rights in recent years, and says she has received death and rape threats from those who disagree with her.
It comes after another recent high-profile scandal saw Ms Rowling go to war with Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon.
Ms Rowling called her a “destroyer of women’s rights” – wearing a T-shirt with that as a motif – and today Ms Sturgeon fueled the row by suggesting the author is not a “real feminist” – but she is.
The author took the action as she supported campaigners who gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to protest the devolved government’s controversial gender reforms included in the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill.
But Ms Sturgeon pushed back, saying: “Aggressors are a risk to women – that’s what we need to focus on.
“We should not seek to further stigmatize and discriminate against a small, tiny group in society that is already one of the most stigmatized groups in society.
“There are very, very real threats to women right now, from attacks, physical attacks, sexual assault attacks to the removal of abortion and reproductive rights to what women are going through in countries in Iran.
“The threat to women in our society today is not from trans women, it’s from abusers, from lawmakers who want to take away our rights, and that’s what we need to focus on.”