ENTERTAINMENT
09/06/2020 11:27 BST

Jonathan Ross Backtracks After Defending JK Rowling: 'I’m Not In A Position To Decide What's Considered Transphobic'

The presenter was criticised for supporting the Harry Potter author over her controversial tweets about menstruation and biological sex.

Jonathan Ross has backtracked on his defence of JK Rowling, stating it is not for him to decide “what is or isn’t considered transphobic”. 

The chat show host faced criticism after he spoke up for the Harry Potter author, after she posted a series of controversial tweets about menstruation and biological sex over the weekend.

On Saturday, the author commented on an article titled, Creating a More Equal Post-COVID-19 World for People Who Menstruate, pushing back against the headline for not referring to those who have periods as “women”.

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Jonathan Ross and JK Rowling

“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?,” she tweeted, before adding: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

The tweet sparked a wave of backlash from the LGBTQ community and its supporters, who accused her of invalidating trans people, with Jonathan speaking out to insist the writer was not “transphobic”.

However, he has since spoken out again after a conversation with his daughters about his original tweet.

He said: “Those who know me will concede I try to be thoughtful & not a dick. Having talked to some people (OK, my daughters) re my earlier tweet, I’ve come to accept that I’m not in a position to decide what is or isn’t considered transphobic.

“It’s a wildly sensitive subject. Let’s keep talking.”

He previously tweeted: “I just ate too many brownies. Again. Oh, and also. @jk_rowling is both right and magnificent. For those accusing her of transphobia, please read what she wrote. She clearly is not.”

In follow-up tweets sent on Saturday, Rowling insisted that accusations that she was transphobic were “nonsense”.

“The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense,” she tweeted.

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe has since spoken out in support of the trans community, after feeling “compelled to say something”. 

Daniel shared a statement through the LGBTQ suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project, and while he claimed that the issue is not about “in-fighting between JK Rowling and myself,” he said: “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”

It is not the first time the author has been called out by the trans community and their allies.

Back in 2018, the Wizarding World creator sparked a backlash when she was seen “liking” a tweet referring to transgender women as “men in dresses”.

Her rep later put this down to a “clumsy” and “middle-aged mistake”.

Towards the end of last year, she was criticised when she spoke out in defence of Maya Forstater, who had been accused of using “offensive and exclusionary” language in a number of tweets relating to proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act, which would allow self-identification.

Last month, Rowling spoke out after tweeting – and swiftly deleting – a post that contained a sentence misgendering a transgender woman.

She said she had “accidentally pasted in” a sentence, which appeared to be from an article about transgender activist Tara Wolf.

Useful websites and helplines:

  • The Gender Trust supports anyone affected by gender identity | 01527 894 838
  • Mermaids offers information, support, friendship and shared experiences for young people with gender identity issues | 0208 1234819
  • LGBT Youth Scotland is the largest youth and community-based organisation for LGBT people in Scotland. Text 07786 202 370
  • Gires provides information for trans people, their families and professionals who care for them | 01372 801554
  • Depend provides support, advice and information for anyone who knows, or is related to, a transsexual person in the UK