J.K. Rowling takes her transphobic comments to the pages in new book


Judy Luo

The Californian’s Pop Culture column covers all the latest controversial pop culture phenomena.

J.K. Rowling, beloved author of the Harry Potter series, recently released a new book on Aug. 30 called, “The Ink Black Heart.”
It is the sixth installment in the Cormoran Strike series, written under the author’s pen name, Robert Galbraith. Since its publication, the book has received a lot of backlash and criticism, and sparked quite the controversy.
The book is about a character named Edie Ledwell, who comes under fire and is murdered for creating a comic called the “Ink Black Heart”, which includes transphobic, ableist, and racist comments. Coincidently, this plot line almost exactly mirrors Rowling’s own experiences of making transphobic comments and losing fans.
But when asked about it in “The Black Heart Interactive Q&A”, Rowling said she had been planning this book for a long time and denied the semblance to her own life.
“When it did happen to me, those who had already read the book in manuscript form were – are you clairvoyant?” she said in the Q&A. “I wasn’t clairvoyant, I just – yeah, it was just one of those weird twists. Sometimes life imitates art more than one would like.”
Like the character Ledwell, Rowling has repeatedly posted transphobic comments, particularly targeting trans women. The retaliation by the public led to her losing many fans and entire fan bases distancing themselves from her. According to Metro, actors in the Harry Potter movie franchise, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Bonnie Wright, Evanna Lynch, and Katie Leung, were among the people offering support for the trans community.
“Transgender women are women,” Radcliffe wrote on Twitter. “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.”
Emma Watson also expressed similar views.
“Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted, according to Entertainment Weekly. “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”
Many people were infuriated that “The Ink Black Heart” attempted to paint transphobic people like Rowling as victims of vicious, hateful trans activists. The activists are depicted as online trolls who go to extremes to kill Ledwell, who is depicted as honorable and respectable.
A lot of controversy also surrounds Rowling’s chosen pen name Robert Galbraith. Dr. Robert Galbraith Heath was an American psychiatrist in an era when homosexuality was considered a mental disorder. During his work as a neurosurgeon, he experimented with many unethical and horrifying “solutions” to change a person’s sexuality, such as shock therapy.
Many people have pointed out the significance of the similarity between Heath and Rowling’s pen name, but Rowling and her representatives have gone to great lengths to say that her selection of the name is merely a coincidence.
“I chose Robert because it’s one of my favorite men’s names, because Robert F. Kennedy is my hero…,” Rowling said during the same Q&A. “Galbraith came about for a slightly odd reason. When I was a child, I really wanted to be called ‘Ella Galbraith,’ and I’ve no idea why. I don’t even know how I knew that the surname existed, because I can’t remember ever meeting anyone with it. Be that as it may, the name had a fascination for me.”
“The Ink Black Heart” was unnecessary and the nail in Rowling’s transphobic coffin. She should have expected the negative response she would get since she already had received backlash when she made transphobic comments on Twitter.
For the person who coined “words are our inexhaustible source of magic” in the Harry Potter series, “The Ink Black Heart” only uses words in the most exhausting way possible.