The Insidious Transphobia of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” by Megan Phelps-Roper

The Insidious Transphobia of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” by Megan Phelps-Roper

Episode 5: The Tweets

We know how it starts, when Rowling “jumped into the public conversation around sex and gender;” she “weighed in” on the issue. And as trans people lose their human rights and their lives every day, Rowling ponders, “Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong.”

Maya Forstater

The Maya Forstater case that Rowling’s tweet refers to, as well as analyses on Rowling’s history of transphobia as a whole, have been shared on CNN, on Glamour, on Snopes, on Vox, on Medium by Katy Montgomerie and Phaylen Fairchild, on Twitter, and on YouTube by ContraPoints, Jessie Gender, and Caelan Conrad, to name a few.

To sum up, Maya Forstater’s contract with the think tank she worked for was not renewed following several transphobic tweets and private messages in the workplace in opposition to the Gender Recognition Act (allowing people to self-identify on government IDs).

I should be careful and not unnecessarily antagonistic. But if people find the basic biological truths that “women are adult human females” or “transwomen are male” offensive, then they will be offended.

Of course in social situations I would treat any transwomen as an honourary female, and use whatever pronouns etc…I wouldn’t try to hurt anyone’s feelings but I don’t think people should be compelled to play along with literal delusions like “transwomen are women”

Maya Forstater as quoted in Case ruling in Forstater v Center for Global Development Europe

Forstater also did the public the courtesy of compiling all of the tweets from the ruling into one thread in the name of being taken out of context, although they either show that the full tweets were worse, or they unintentionally confirm that the ruling fully quoted what she actually said. And while she did say that trans women were deluded—which Megan actually reads out—she never once said that sex was real.

Enter Kathleen Stock

Kathleen Stock‘s very first words on Witch Trials are “The judgment said that basically her speech in this case could not be protected because it was not worthy of respect in a democratic society.” If these gender critical women are so passionate about context, perhaps we can look at why the judgment said this. After describing an ongoing situation in which Forstater repeatedly refused to use they/them pronouns to describe a colleague because “I recognize a man when I see one” (which is not “us[ing] whatever pronouns etc”), the judgment concluded,

I conclude from this, and the totality of the evidence, that the Claimant is absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.

Case ruling in Forstater v Center for Global Development Europe

When Stock had seen the Forstater decision, she had gone to her blog “in a fury really, and typed out a quite a short piece called This is Not a Drill.” For everyone who wondered what #ThisIsNotADrill meant, it’s this. The post disparages the British LGBTQ+ charity Stonewall for spreading “propaganda that ‘transwomen are women’.” As she tells Megan, she ends the post by calling upon British philosophers to make public statements that “people should be legally permitted to believe that biological sex is immutable and cannot be changed, without fear of losing their jobs.”

Stock has a particular stake in the fight of TERFs losing their jobs since, as she and Megan discuss, a group of queer and trans students at University of Sussex successfully campaigned for Stock’s removal from the faculty.

Kathleen Stock is not going to be coming back to University of Sussex as a professor. Good fucking riddance. This is a monumental victory for trans and non-binary students, who have protested the ways that this university has enabled transphobia, abuse and discrimination. The full weight of a colonial institution, the national media circuit and government ministers, were no match for the unity and solidarity of the queer and trans communities at Sussex University. […]

Fuck the national press media who happily collaborated with the university and Stock to turn this into a debate about ‘free speech’ and ‘academic freedoms’. […] For those reaching out to this account, we will not speak to the press because we will never debate, discuss or organize on the terms of the people who have enabled discrimination and transphobia. This has been a campaign to get Stock out of Sussex, for the sake of the safety and protection of trans and non-binary students. And it fucking worked. Direct action gets the goods, and trans and non-binary students are safer and happier for it.

Anti-TERF Sussex

Everyone, including Stock, deserves to have their basic needs met, which in a capitalist world usually means being employed. But Stock is not owed a job teaching at a university where the students have come forward and made it known that she makes their campus unsafe.

You cannot argue me out of this

Rowling, too, had a heyday with the “worthy of respect” line, twisting it further in her justification for tweeting:

I felt that the tribunal was wrong. I think there is, in my view, considerable evidence for the fact that a woman is the producer of the large gametes, and I found it outrageous that this employment tribunal had decided no, that belief wasn’t worthy of respect. […] You cannot argue me out of this.

J.K. Rowling, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Episode 5: The Tweets

An aside: I really do not have the words to describe how uncomfortable the audio design of this entire podcast was. All I can do is share with you the very worst bits, in which Megan reads out the tweets replying to Rowling in an unsettling monotone voice.

I will give Megan credit for also sharing more substantial tweets from disappointed long-time Harry Potter fans, like the admins at MuggleNet and the Potterless podcast.

I do wonder, however, why people like these, or even Daniel Radcliffe or Emma Watson, weren’t featured on Witch Trials as well, since Megan claims that it is so balanced and talks to people from “all sides” when so far, we’ve almost exclusively talked to people who are known to be TERFs in the discussion about trans people. Did Megan reach out to them, and they knew it wasn’t actually good faith, or—more likely—was the plan only ever to primarily serve as a platform for Rowling?

Even after Megan reads these two tweets and others like them, Rowling describes the overall reaction to her statement as “fury and incomprehension.” Meanwhile, she is the one who cannot comprehend that this many people in her audience actually support trans rights:

What’s interesting is the fans that found themselves in positions of power online, did they feel they needed to take this position because they themselves had followers? Possibly. I don’t know. I mean, I do know that there is huge pressure on people to take certain positions at the moment, and I know that there is a huge amount of fear around it. Some of them, I don’t doubt, sincerely felt it. They just couldn’t understand why. “Why aren’t you simply repeating ‘Trans women are women’? Why aren’t you doing that? That is the kind and good and righteous thing to do. I don’t understand.” And I’m constantly told I don’t understand my own looks. I’m constantly told that I have betrayed my own books. My position is that I am absolutely upholding the positions that I took in Potter. My position is that this activist movement, in the form that it’s currently taking, echoes the very thing that I was warning against in Harry Potter.

J.K. Rowling, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Episode 5: The Tweets

I actually never read Harry Potter, in a tenacious attempt to be different from all the other kids my age, so I couldn’t tell you what does or does not contradict its message. I do know that Rowling’s current stance flies in the face of her message to Harvard in 2008, that affirming trans people is the opposite of authoritarianism, and that if Harry Potter was about acceptance, then no, she’s not holding that position.

Since I didn’t grow up reading Harry Potter, I also don’t have this rosy view of Rowling as a progressive and loving icon that her former fans do. Many Potter fans still have faith in Rowling, though, like Jackson Bird, whose essay Megan mentions:

The book series, which I started reading shortly after its debut in the United States when I was 9 years old, was an escape from my lonely childhood of gender confusion. I used to dream about characters from the books showing up on my doorstep to whisk me away to the wizarding world, as they do for Harry in the first book. As I grew up and the series continued, I learned about the importance of critical thinking and standing up for your beliefs — as when Harry has to fight back against a government-sanctioned disinformation campaign denying the return of the evil wizard Lord Voldemort.


J.K. Rowling’s latest opinions, as much as they might sting, can’t take that magic away from me. I can only hope she takes this opportunity to practice some of the same values she taught us and listens to trans fans of her books. Let us tell you about our lives, how we got here, and even how the world you created saved many of us. We’re ready to have a conversation if you are. Send us an owl.

Jackson Bird, ‘Harry Potter’ Helped Me Come Out as Trans, But J.K. Rowling Disappointed Me

This takes us to Rowling’s next TERFy tweet in summer of 2020, which Megan describes as—and you might want to get ready for this one…

A chaotic political moment

The fact that Megan calls this highlighted violence of police brutality and the fight for Black lives “the chaotic political moment that was the summer of 2020” has been overlooked in the vast reactions to this podcast because of the sheer quantity of abhorrent takes to choose from—the most notable of which is coming up at the end of episode 5. But I’ve had an image of George Floyd’s murder together with the words “Chaotic Political Moment” floating around in my head since I first heard them uttered a month ago. Chaotic political moment. The lengths this woman will go to appear to not take side in anything is astonishing. I just can’t with her.

She expands this uncomfortable and detached description of the reckonings in 2020:

This unrest was also present online where social media was full of outrage and anger and uncertainty about COVID-19 and its origins, about racism in the U.S. and what should be done to remedy it. About the gap between the haves and the have nots, and about whether the current systems could remedy these problems or whether those systems needed to be dismantled entirely. There was a reckoning about the past, about historical figures and their statues, but also about prominent people in the present.

Megan Phelps-Roper, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Episode 5: The Tweets

People in period poverty

It was apparently a reckoning about people like Rowling, who they again imply is a victim of cancel culture. Feeling “really angry” about the “incredibly febrile, oppressive atmosphere that we are all currently living in,” Rowling tweeted her disdain about an article by three global menstrual health experts on “creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”

I find this tweet to be especially infuriating, not least because if she had actually read the article, it mentions “women” 10 times. But what’s worse, the article is focused on how to fight period poverty so that women and others who menstruate worldwide have access to things like clean running water and menstrual supplies. I’m sure that of the 500 million-plus people worldwide who live in period poverty, only a fraction of them even know or use terms like “people who menstruate,” but whether we call them that is probably not very high on their list of priorities. Women are fighting for their lives, and J.K. Rowling has to focus on semantics. Who do you think are the real feminists here: nitpickers like Rowling, or global health heroes like Marni Sommer, Virginia Kamowa, and Therese Mahon?

The audacity

Regardless, Rowling was admittedly furious, and this tweet was her snapping point. She was “angry” and “flippant,” and “seeing this article, she just reacted” with “no courtesy call to [her] management” as there had been for her Forstater tweet.

We are treated to more of the negative responses from her:

Including this gem.

The image from the cover of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, but it says "Harry Potter and the Audacity of This Bitch"

Notably, as blogger Evan Uruhart pointed out,

In the discussion of a mocking tweet of Rowling’s, one in which Rowling made fun of the idea of including trans men in discussions of menstruation, Rowling is given time to explain how she was responding to the oppressive atmosphere of the COVID-19 stay-home orders. She says she was “angry and flippant” and not thinking ahead or planning her words.

The possibility that trans people might also exist in oppressive atmospheres, that they too might feel angry, or become flippant, is never raised. […]

Instead, there are quotes of tweets, purportedly from trans women representing the broader transgender rights movement, that reference a desire to sexually assault Rowling. They are graphic, disturbing, and wrong. But the podcast never once reads out the violent, threatening, or degrading tweets targeting trans people, from Rowling’s side. It never suggests that Rowling’s activist friends engage in this behavior routinely, or asks Rowling to account for that.

Evan Urquhart, Eden, and the Humanity J. K. Rowling Wants You to Ignore

I would (not) march with you

It must have gotten to her, because she then posted this thread—not to apologize, but to “clarify”:

As a cis white woman, I’m really not the victim of any of Rowling’s transphobia here, but I do find it so appalling that she uses “the lived reality of [cis] women” and our “ability to discuss our lives” as her justification for being a bigot. She does not speak for me. And gatekeeping womanhood as she does just makes her a shitty feminist.

And her vow to march with trans people “if [they] were being discriminated against on the basis of being trans” especially stings considering that her TERF brunch, celebrating the launch of Forstater’s campaign to require local government candidates to answer “no” to the question “can a woman have a penis?” before she would vote for them, was on the same day as a massive LGBTQ+ rally protesting Boris Johnson’s ban on conversion therapy just 20 minutes down the road.

Rowling also claims in the podcast, might I add, that she was “arguing against people who are literally saying sex is a construct. It’s not real,” which literally no one said. In fact, there are dozens of tweets telling Rowling that sex is real, reminding her that no one ever said it wasn’t real, and that it is not the same as gender.

But we don’t hear any of those tweets. Instead we get another soundscape of Megan mechanically reading tweets calling Rowling a “rectangle head.”

This tweet was Rowling’s next attempt at “engaging with her critics.”

Seeing through the eyes of a TERF

I think it’s pretty clear by now who Rowling thinks the witch is. But a less obvious takeaway from this tweet and other instances of Rowling and her friends’ general persecution complex is that these trans-exclusionary radical feminists think it is appropriate to speak in these extremes because their entire worldview is constructed in an entirely different way from those of us who affirm trans identities. She sees the word TERF as simple “woman-hate,” because she plainly and unequivocally believes that only cis women are women.

Michelle Goldberg had called trans rights “a really brute sort of misogyny dressed up in progressive clothes,” because to them, it truly is just a new way to hate women. We know they don’t believe trans women are women, but when you actually follow that logic, it takes you to this idea that trans people and allies hate all “real” women. But they clearly haven’t noticed that most cis women—just like them—do believe trans women are women, are not TERFs, and don’t suffer from this brand of “misogyny.” It’s not a woman problem, Joanne. It’s a bigot problem. And TERF is not a slur, just as calling someone homophobic or racist is not a slur. Would she not agree that she’s trans exclusionary? Would she not agree that she’s a radical feminist? They want us to simply replace the word “TERF” with “woman,” but clearly not all women are TERFs. We can’t call out bigotry if we don’t even have the language to do it.

The essay

We finally make it to June 10th, when Rowling posted her essay on “sex and gender.”

You have to keep going back to what you actually wrote. And you know, you almost expect there to be some terrible inflammatory language there or some terrible threat to somebody that somehow you didn’t notice that you’d written. But then you remind yourself, no, I just wrote this sort of relatively centrist, moderate in the middle, compassionate thing.

Kathleen Stock, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Episode 5: The Tweets

(Trigger warning: transphobia and sexual assault.) What Stock said about her own essay applies to Rowling’s as well. Megan and Rowling read excerpts from Rowling’s essay in which she says she has “solidarity and kinship” with trans women, and she even notes that trans people, “like women,” are more likely to be killed by sexual partners, and that trans sex workers of color are at an even higher risk. But she also describes people like Maya Forstater and Magdalen Berns, who called trans women “blackface actors” and “pathetic, sick, fucks,” “hugely sympathetic” towards trans people.

A screenshot of Magdalen Bern's no-longer-available tweet. In response to someone saying, "Imagine calling trans people the same thing as blackface actors, but also believing that transphobia isn't real and that TERF is a slur." she says, "You are fucking blackface actors. You aren't women. You're men who get sexual kicks from being treated like women. Fuck you and your dirty fucking perversions. Our oppression isn't a fetish you pathetic, sick, fuck.

The part of Rowling’s essay that gets the most attention is that she shares for the first time that she’s survived not only domestic abuse but sexual assault. These visceral traumas clearly continue to shape how Rowling interacts with the world around her. As trans YouTuber Natalie Wynn explains,

I hope it goes without saying that trans people gaining easier access to legal recognition in Scotland in 2020, is completely unrelated to Joanne Rowling being assaulted by a cis man in the 1990s. This is a non-sequitur.

And again it’s not that I’m unsympathetic to her trauma. And I would be nothing but sympathetic if her feelings about this amounted to simply being triggered by, for example, perceiving someone as male in the women’s bathroom. Which is something most trans women are sensitive to. 


But Joanne’s transphobia has so outgrown the scope of an automatic trigger response. It’s become a fixation for years, to the point where she’s written a 900 page novel about a serial killer who cross-dresses to trick women into being less vigilant. And now, the primary political cause she’s decided to use her superstardom to champion is opposition to trans liberation. And past trauma is just not an excuse for that.

Natalie Wynn, J.K. Rowling

Without the context that Wynn and countless others have provided about the essay, the angry reactions that Megan reads and plays from countless Harry Potter fans sounds completely out of proportion. Megan even lists by name five people who were fired for publicly aligning themselves with Rowling’s views, without naming a single trans person who has been harassed or murdered simply for being trans. Not Brianna Ghey. Not Marisela Castro. Not Brianna Hill. Not Eden Knight, whose death was confirmed the day before this episode released.

Death Eaters

Instead, Rowling compares trans people to the Death Eaters in Harry Potter, which one reader explains “were a movement of genocidal racists and serial murderers, and their members were key antagonists throughout the series as they attempt to kill numerous children and take over the world.” Of course, Megan says in a tweet that “If you listen to the episode, she says she is fighting a movement that attempts to silence women via ‘threats of loss of livelihood and threats to their personal safety’—not trans people writ large.” Here’s what Rowling said when Megan asked her what she says to those who say she’s become like the villain in her own books.

I suppose the thing I would say, above all, to those who seek to explain, to seek to tell me that I don’t understand my own books, I will say this. Some of you have not understood the books. The Death Eaters claimed, “We have been made to live in secret. And now is our time. And any who stand in our way must be destroyed. If you disagree with us, you must die.” They demonized and dehumanized those who were not like them. I am fighting what I see as a powerful, insidious, misogynistic movement that I think has gained huge purchase in very influential areas of society. I do not see this particular movement as either benign or powerless, so I’m afraid I stand with the women who are fighting to be heard against threat of loss of livelihood and threats to their personal safety.

J.K. Rowling, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, Episode 5: The Tweets

Again, I haven’t read the books, but those who have know exactly what she means by this. I find it interesting that Megan, in her tweet, chose to describe the group that Rowling depicts at the end of her quote and not in the middle. She very clearly means trans people, as trans people “have been made to live in secret.” Their cis allies in the movement have not. She’s also said that to cancel someone is to say, “I obliterate you. You are dead.” On the contrary, Rowling seems very much alive.

18 thoughts on “The Insidious Transphobia of “The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling” by Megan Phelps-Roper

  • April 17, 2023 at 6:47 am

    You keep using the word “equivocating”, I do not think it means what you think it means. What I think you mean is “equate”.

    • April 17, 2023 at 8:46 am

      Oh my gosh!!! Thanks for telling me. Well they definitely equivocate too! 😅

      • April 19, 2023 at 11:54 am

        Yes they do 🙂

  • April 25, 2023 at 5:40 pm

    It seems like your review of the podcast is mainly about Barry Weiss’s connections to problematic people. I can see why that might lead you to dismiss the podcast as a waste of time, but you say you listened to the whole thing. I’m curious what you found a chance phobic exactly about the podcast itself?

  • May 9, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    Hi Rebekah,
    Thanks for this post. It led me to actually listen to the podcast and move beyond the limited perspective I had received from the Sam Harris’ interview with Megan. It also led me to listen to the Contrapoints response, which was very helpful. I recognize the significant effort that goes into putting together a lengthy post like this. It was clearly a labor of love and you offer many good observations on how the podcast does not live up to the fair-handed intentions espoused by Megan. That said, some aspects of the post caught my attention for less noble reasons, so I want to offer what I hope is received as friendly, constructive criticism. I really don’t want to misrepresent you in any way, so if I have misunderstood something then please let me know.

    To start, I want to note that your many valid points are more likely to be summarily dismissed by readers who think that you are acting in bad faith – which I assume you don’t want. Your passion comes through loud and clear, but it appears to come with a serving of hyperbole and speculation which can be easily interpreted as a less severe version of the bad faith activism that the podcast is critiquing. To clarify what I’m referring to, some examples that caught my attention are:
    1. On the first page, you (drawing from Caelan) accuse Megan of selfishly using people as mere plot devices in her story, then go on to impugn her knowledge of how to counter bad ideas and equate it to what the rest of us figure out in kindergarten (more on this below – she may know more about this than you think).
    2. For Episode 1, you speculate that Megan was coached by the Free Press on what to say and then question her honesty about the “highly, highly” doubtful origins of the letter for which you’re “almost positive” you know the origins. The dot joining which you use to reach that speculation is reminiscent of conspiratorial thinking.
    3. For Episode 4, you reinterpret Rowling’s statement that biological women “require certain protections” into an assertion that trans women don’t need protections (I believe she acknowledged this need at some point), and interpret the discussion of Karen White instead of cis men’s crimes as evidence that “they’re not concerned about women’s safety” (rather than just the consequence of focused discussion), and take Goldberg citing the need for clear delineations as evidence that she “doesn’t care” “that trans people are fighting for their lives”. These do not read as fair and accurate interpretations. Beyond that, the listing of advertisers in this episode is, whether you intended it or not, going to be interpreted as an endorsement of “cancel culture” by virtue of being read as a suggestion to boycott them.
    4. On the last page you claim that they (presumably Megan and Rowling) prefer a world in which “trans people stay at the bottom if they are there at all“. Regardless of your intention, this reads as if you think they might actually want to eliminate trans people altogether.

    Again, you’ve made a lot of good points in this post, but I raise these observations because I assume you want those points to be received without being seen as misrepresenting people and acting in bad faith. Which leads me to my second critique…

    I may very well be wrong, but it also felt to me like you were not only criticizing Megan’s approach in the context of the podcast, but were also leaning toward skepticism of the open dialogue strategy in the context of social justice issues in general. I infer this from the observations above, in the quotes you select from Caelan, and in your handling of Megan’s response to Natalie’s “indirect bigotry”. Though Natalie’s video shows how antagonistic activism isn’t anything new (contrary to many claims), the mere presence of that behavior in past successful movements does not infer that it was necessary for their success.

    More practically, there has been a fair bit of work to study persuasion, in both the individual and larger social contexts. If you are not already familiar with David McRaney and his “You are not so smart” podcast, I recommend taking a look. If you want your activism to be effective then I suggest that he is a voice worth listening to. In case you haven’t already guessed it, the most effective strategies have a lot in common with Megan’s idealism and stand in opposition to more antagonistic methods. While it is important for a movement to grab the public’s attention, not all attention is good for the success of the movement.

    Lastly, though I have no stake in being a Megan Phelps-Roper apologist I thought it would be interesting to try and steelman her approach with this podcast:
    1. If she is in fact aware of the research noted above (as I would guess) then the grace she extends to the gender critical viewpoint can also be seen as her engaging in the kind of dialogue which is necessary to gain the trust of those who hold that perspective, which makes them more open to the alternative viewpoints that are shared.
    2. While the series title does lend itself more to the implication that Rowling is the witch than the witch hunter, let’s not forget that (a) Rowling’s fame is based on witchcraft, (b) Megan’s background was deep in the anti-witchcraft era of Harry Potter, (c) witch trials are classic examples of mob justice, which is a prominent theme of the series, and (d) a catchy title is important to downloads. She has said the title was intended to be open to interpretation, including directly stating this in the first episode. In the absence of unambiguous indications to the contrary, we should not assume that is a lie.
    3. As far as I know, Megan doesn’t have any kind of history that puts her in the same camp as Rowling on gender issues. Guilt-by-association is a precarious criteria for pigeonholing somebody, especially when the association is in a context where she explicitly tells us that she is trying to not take a side. Even if you think she failed in that goal, your perspective on that is not a reliable insight into her intentions.
    4. Megan’s history of being heavily focused on the promotion of open, civilized conversation regardless of ideological differences is good reason to believe her when she says that her goal in this case is no different, even if the end result does not appear to be as balanced as she thinks it was. As noted previously, to say that she is the “epitome of bad faith” is mind-reading her intentions.
    5. Rowling is the centerpiece of the project and its success is likely dependent on Rowling’s approval. If she pulled her support, it may not have ever been released. That’s a tough line to walk and will inevitably bias the result in favor of not alienating her.
    6. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I read you as saying that Megan’s past has given her a “dangerous lens” because it causes her to mistake the expressions of pain and hurt in the more aggressive interactions as equivalent to the expression of hateful dogma from her time at Westboro. The distinction between emotional responses and hateful dogma is fair, but it also does not mean that there is no dogmatic rhetoric to be found on the trans-activist side. I think Natalie did a good job of acknowledging this, and we shouldn’t assume that Megan is also not aware of this distinction even if it was not overtly addressed in the podcast (though perhaps it was and I just don’t recall).
    7. While episode 7 does not feature Megan confronting Rowling with vigor, the questioning of Rowling was such that – in my opinion – Rowling was cast in a far less flattering light than she was in the first 5 episodes. If that’s a legitimate observation then that is a telling way to end the series.

    Sorry for the length of this comment. I hope you can appreciate that I’m not trying to be adversarial and why I would think it was worth sharing these observations.

    • June 15, 2023 at 11:46 am

      Hi Travis, thanks for your comment and for waiting for my reply! I’ll do my best to address your points below.

      1. While I did speculate about the podcast’s origins, I don’t think it’s wrong or conspiratorial to do so. I laid out the clues that led me to that (tentative) conclusion because Megan’s alleged letter was never released, or even described in detail, and so I don’t think my hypothesis is a great stretch. But at the end of the day we don’t know for sure, and I wish we had more information.
      2. Rowling does acknowledge in her essay discussed in chapter 5 that “Trans people need and deserve protection. Like women, they’re most likely to be killed by sexual partners. Trans women who work in the sex industry, particularly trans women of colour, are at particular risk.” Barring the obvious implication here that “trans people” are not women, she follows this whole section with “At the same time,…” leading into fear mongering about men in women’s restrooms. So that contradicts what she said here which is that “[our sex class] is the basis for our oppression” during a discussion about domestic violence. She implies that trans women cannot suffer the same oppression as cis women, which is based in their “sex class.” Regarding the listing of advertisers, you can interpret that as cancel culture if you want to. Brands should suffer consequences for being featured in transphobic podcasts. Finally, I disagree that the interpretation of correctional officers causing more harm than Karen White was not fair and accurate. I believe it was more than fair, and wholly accurate.
      3. Yes, I believe that they “might actually want to eliminate trans people altogether.”
        (Next numbered list!)
      4. Sorry but I don’t buy this explanation of the title as ubiquitous. Overall in your analysis I think you are taking Megan at her word too much. Maybe it’s not a scientifically provable fact, but I don’t think she is genuine—that’s probably the biggest difference between your view and mine. (a) I think HP being about witchcraft ties to the idea of Rowling being a witch even more (b) Megan said her family didn’t have anything to do with the anti-HP mania, and she was allowed to read it (c) I think this point also lends itself to Rowling being the witch, that’s why it’s a prominent theme (d) I agree. To your description of “the absence of unambiguous indications to the contrary” what frustrates me about the podcast as a whole is that there isn’t really anything unambiguous. It’s all open to interpretation, so this is my best educated attempt to interpret it.
      5. You might be interested in Caelan’s video. They list some transphobic or transphobic-ish tweets Megan’s liked in the past. I don’t think that proves anything, but it starts to raise a little red flag.
      6. I think that takes us back to the problem of making a podcast that is featuring J.K. Rowling in the first place.
      7. Of course, everyone has biases and their own dogma. Whether Megan is aware of the distinction or not, she really goes out of her way to exaggerate similarities between WBC and trans people/allies, which is not fair.
      8. I didn’t find episode 7 particularly interesting, but instead pretty predictable. I was surprised that Natalie was featured in ep 6 and that her good points were platformed here at all, so maybe there was no going back after her segment as seeing Rowling as positively as we might have in earlier episodes. My biggest problem with episode 7 is the way it was advertised as “Rowling’s opponents will feel they’ve been vindicated after hearing this!” which was not at all the case.
      • July 24, 2023 at 1:01 pm

        First time reader here, and I think Travis R made an excellent point about:

        “To ostart, I want to note that your many valid points are more likely to be summarily dismissed by readers who think that you are acting in bad faith – which I assume you don’t want. Your passion comes through loud and clear, but it appears to come with a serving of hyperbole and speculation which can be easily interpreted as a less severe version of the bad faith activism that the podcast is critiquing.”

        What kind of blog is this? I found it on a top list of best skeptics blogs, but it reads more like bad faith activism to me. What I’ve read so far isn’t true skepticism, which makes me worried, because bad faith activism is dangerous to me and my feelings, in fact it is hate speech towards my feelings. I would like you to stop it if you would please.

  • May 12, 2023 at 3:06 pm

    I left a comment here a few days ago that included a couple links and so was held for moderation. Wanted to alert you in case it slipped your attention.

    • May 12, 2023 at 5:41 pm

      WordPress had flagged it, so I didn’t see it. Thank you for taking the time to write it! I look forward to reading it when I have a little time 🙂

  • June 16, 2023 at 6:21 pm

    Thank you for responding even after all this time. I honestly never intended to spur any kind of debate with those numbered points. The first list was just an attempt to backup the claim that you were sometimes characterizing people with uncharitable attributions that go beyond the information we have, and which can therefore appear to be the kind of “bad faith” engagement that the podcast was in part critiquing. The second list was an attempt to show an example of how one could offer a more charitable interpretation of Megan’s position.

    Regardless, I want to highlight the part of the comment that was between those lists. If I could have a redo, I would drop the lists because those clearly were not helpful. I should take my own advice. The larger goal was to encourage you to become familiar with the research around persuasion and how people’s minds change because I sensed you leaning into a more antagonistic approach which I understand to be counterproductive to effective activism. You are welcome to disagree with that assessment, but I thought it was worth sharing that perspective. If nothing else, I recommend looking at adding David McRaney’s most recent book to your non-fiction reading list, and\or his podcast to your rotation.

    • July 11, 2023 at 10:23 pm

      I understand you think you know a lot about this subject matter because you listened to a podcast, but it doesn’t seem to have occurred to you that your tone is very condescending and dismissive.

      It is certain that, at the very least, Phelps-Roper lacks the expertise or journalistic ability to provide a thorough portrayal of Rowling and the people who oppose her (VERY OBVIOUSLY) transmisist agenda. It is even more certain that Rowling herself hates trans people. I do not consider this language to be too strong. She is funding Posey Parker, a genocidal transmisist who is very open about her desire to force trans people to detransition, and if they won’t do that, throw them in prison. Or worse. And she is willing to throw absolutely everything else under the bus in pursuit of this goal, including women’s reproductive rights. She’s also willing to associate with a woman who started a sexual relationship with a minor (who could not consent under the law in many places) and got pregnant by that child, simply because that woman is as openly hateful of trans people as she is. Rowling is long past the “a few concerns” stage of things, and we should not allow her to pretend her motives are pure.

  • July 5, 2023 at 7:44 pm

    I think it’s important to critique ideas where important matters of justice are concerned, but to use the inflammatory words “insidious” and “transphobic” is so clearly hyperbolic that it makes you appear unserious. It gives off the aroma of click bait and performative outrage that is such a turn off to anyone not already convinced. If you are preaching to your own choir, I hope it’s gratifying.

  • September 1, 2023 at 6:11 pm

    I recently listened to the podcast. In many ways I was disappointed with it (and pissed off by it), as well as with Megan, considering her past. While she seeks to avoid repeating the sins of her past, she wound up in the opposite extreme doing the exact same thing. I’m also working my way through the series to analyze them deeper.

    I literally stopped episode 1 within about 15 seconds to investigate the sponsor. Fire ( The first red flag for me was the free speech absolutism. This is often an indicator of an agenda-driven mission that claims high ideals, but is limited in it’s scope to just being anti-woke. I read the article on their lawsuit against CA. I picked a single quote to investigate, “persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial.”, and followed it down a rabbit hole. The first thing I noticed was Fire is extremely loath to link to outside sources. This tells me that seek to maintain control over the narrative, via echo chamber. The quote I picked was cut down from a much longer sentence (which is why I left the period in their quote):
    “Persons that say they are ‘not a racist’ are in denial of the inequities and racial problems that exist.” (Taken from I. X. Kendi’s book “How to be Antiracist”)

    Fire’s misquote means people who claims to not be a racist are denying that they are. The real quote means they’re denying the existence of inequities and racial problems. Those are two vastly different things. I don’t agree with the full sentence either, but Fire changing the context is outright lying and manipulation. (I don’t agree that saying your not a racist is denial of the problems. Racism, at it’s core, is literally the belief in the superiority of one’s race, everything else is a manifestation of that belief. One can simultaneously believe their race is not superior and know that inequality and racism exists. People who aren’t racist can also be infected with racist ideologies that permeate our society repeated ad nauseum – think “Affirmative Action is reverse racism” – and not even realize the origin or full context of these ideologies.)

    One shouldn’t be surprised about the lopsided presentation of the podcast given it’s sponsorship. Megan literally sold out. It’s funny how quickly she went down the “dark web” hole. It does have a tempting message that seems shiny and logical on the surface. Until one begins to ask certain questions and doesn’t take them at face value. Smart people are very intelligent at rationalizing their irrationality.

    I do believe that JKR doesn’t intend harm, but her extreme focus driven by her horrific past blinds her to the suffering of others (rather than enhancing empathy) and limits her “research” to only that which confirms her biases. Along with the huge array of logical fallacies she commits, she is incapable of understanding that the people who once vilified her didn’t become her allies, they’re using her to justify their hatred of LGBTQ people. If conservatives can separate the T from the rest (a tactic that has taken hold in recent years), then they can separate the rest and regain the ground they “lost” and usher back the pre-Stonewall era of bigotry and hatred that they enjoy so much. Many conservatives and christians don’t even realize that there are eugenicists hiding within their ranks. They play the long game and keep their messages of hatred alive. JKR doesn’t seem to even be aware how she continues to feed this insipid infection of society. I am in no way excusing JKR, ultimately, she made the choices that have hurt a lot of people and has continues to remain willfully blind to broader reality.

  • September 9, 2023 at 10:43 pm

    “The Free Press is an anti-trans publication with a record of distorting and excluding information that doesn’t fit their harmful narrative”

    The amount of projection in this diatribe is something to behold. Even more ironic, considering the latest blog titled, “On Writing White” is coming from a privileged white who regurgitates white talking points in the most white way possible.

    You came in with a conclusion, then perused through The Free Press looking for “evidence” to support your conclusion.

    Bari Weiss didn’t leave NYT because it was “not conservative—or centrist—enough for her” — she said she left because NYT did not defend her against alleged bullying by colleagues and caving into Twitter critics. This folks, is the self-described “critical thinker” and “skeptic,” who couldn’t bother to spend a few minutes to fact-check — but that of course, wouldn’t fit her narrative. She needs to smear her opponents (how dare someone be critical of my religion?) Then she goes on ranting about FIRE because, gasp, they support free speech! You know free speech — the thing that’s part of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights? Well, little Miss whitey here doesn’t like free speech or Universal Declaration of Human Rights — it hurts her narrative when people can talk back and criticize her ideology. She prefers to go back to the 19th century when fanatic whites like her were free to proselytize and force her religion on others without resistance. Ah, the good ‘ol days!

    You know what is “harmful?” A “movement” where its members harass women, who regularly send death and rape threats to women, who use emotional blackmailing, who try to silence critics and get them fired. It’s not surprising that depression among girls and women has skyrocketed, and now white liberal women are the most unhappy group in the country. Congrats — this is the accomplishment of your “movement.”

    The rest of the non-WHITE Western world completely rejects your gender ideology — perhaps should stop excluding this information that doesn’t fit your backward narrative.

  • December 7, 2023 at 5:36 am

    I note that Rebekah Kohlhepp is a Middle Class, Heterosexual, CIS, White Woman. Need any more be said?


What do you think?