JK Rowling reacts as police confirm she will not be arrested over misgendering

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JK Rowling will not be charged by police over her comments about transgender people after a new law came into force in Scoland, police confirmed on Tuesday.

The Harry Potter author, who has campaigned to protect women-only spaces, criticised the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act Hate, which came into force on Monday, calling it an attack on free speech.

She publicly goaded police to “arrest” her over the strict new hate speech laws, which potentially cover misgendering, by posting messages on X to her 14 million followers calling a series of transgender women ‘men’.

Police in Scotland have since confirmed the author, worth an estimated $1.5 billion, won’t be charged over the X posts.

Ms Rowling responded to the news that she would not face a police investigation by writing: “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.”

Some activists have praised Ms Rowling for using her high profile to test out the new legislation, which they claim she did to ensure other women with less money and power wouldn’t be pursued by police for similar comments.

She later confirmed this theory, posting: “If they go after any woman for simply calling a man a man, I’ll repeat that woman’s words and they can charge us both at once.”

But others have criticised her for her actions, which they claim intentionally misgender people and cause them distress.

In Ms Rowling’s X posts, she referred to a number of criminals who are trasngender, but also those with no criminal past – leading critics to claim she is trying to draw comparisons.

She also weighed in after GB News broadcaster Albie Amankona mentioned Munroe Bergdorf, an English transgender model and activist.

Mr Amankona wrote: “Like most Brits I am sympathetic to [Ms Rowlings]’s views on biological sex & the need for single-sex provisions. But I suspect like me, most Brits would find calling a trans woman who looks like [Ms Bergdorf] ‘him’ to be obtuse & mean-spirited, though not a criminal offence.”

Ms Rowling replied: “So if trans-identified men are pretty enough (as judged by you, a man) women ought to agree they’re women? Femaleness has no relation whatsoever to how well an individual – man or woman – performs femininity to male standards. This is the very definition of misogyny.”

The law, the author said in a lengthy online criticism, is “wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence those of us speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women’s and girls’ single-sex spaces”.

“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.

Police Scotland said they had received complaints about the Edinburgh-based author’s post. A spokesman added: “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

The devolved Scottish parliament, which has lawmaking powers in some areas, passed the act to consolidate existing hate crime legislation and ban stirring up hatred against several groups.

Protected characteristics include age, disability, race, religion and sexual orientation, as well as gender identity.

But Ms Rowling, and others who support her views, say the new law does nothing more to protect women and girls.

She has faced a torrent of online abuse, death threats and accusations of transphobia for supporting a woman who lost her job after stating that transgender people cannot change their biological sex.

– with AFP