Roxane Gay, Margaret Atwood sign open letter supporting trans and nonbinary people
Author Margaret Atwood was among the authors who signed a letter in support of trans- and non-binary communities. (Bernard Weil / Toronto Star / Getty Images)
Between 1,500 and 2,000 writers, publishers, and other members of the literary world from Canada and the United States signed an open letter this week in support of trans- and non-binary communities.
Stephen King, Margaret Atwood, Roxane Gay, Neil Gaiman, Maureen Johnson and David Bowles are among those who signed the letter, which joins a list of others who uncover divisions in the literary community. Hundreds of writers in Ireland and the United Kingdom signed similar letters in response to J.K. Rowling's expression of what many consider transphobic views.
"As members of the writing and publishing community of the United States and Canada, we are strongly committed to trans- and non-binary people and their rights," the letter said. "We are writers, editors, journalists, agents and professionals in various forms of publishing. We believe in the power of words. We want to do our part in shaping the curve of history towards justice and fairness.
"To that end, we say, non-binary people are non-binary, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights. Your pronouns are important. They are important. You are loved."
When asked why she initiated the letter, Johnson said, "It's just common decency ... much of the discourse [on trans rights] surrounds JK Rowling because she is a very prominent person and by holding certain positions gives her name, it becomes a really big deal. "
"Many of us who are writers have seen the impact [Rowling's comments] have on trans- and non-binary readers," she continued. "It's one of those situations where you say, 'I can't believe we have to say this, but of course we support you.' As simple as that."
But it's definitely not supposed to fix anything, said Johnson. "It's only there to start a discussion or to give a kind word to anyone who needs it."
Rowling, author of the "Harry Potter" novels, was criticized by the gay and transgender community in December for supporting Maya Forstater - a British researcher who lost her job after saying that people were of their biological gender can not change. "There are two genders. Men are male. Women are female. It is impossible to change the sex," wrote Forstater on Twitter.
Rowling got into the hot water again in June after being offended by a comment that used the broader phrase “men who menstruate” instead of “women”. She responded to the immediate backlash on Twitter by saying, "When sex isn't real, there is no same-sex attraction. When sex isn't real, the lived reality of women around the world is erased. I know and love trans people, but by." erasing the concept of sex deprives many of the ability to meaningfully discuss their lives. It is not hate to tell the truth. "
Rowling defended her tweets later that month in an essay posted on her personal website that only sparked more backlash.
And last month the creator of "Harry Potter" was criticized again for the allegedly transphobic plot in her new novel "Troubled Blood".
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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