J. K. Rowling draws flak for slight in new novel

LONDON • Bestselling Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling (photo) has stoked anger in the transgender community by including a cross-dressing serial killer in her latest novel, published on Tuesday.

Penned under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, Troubled Blood is Rowling’s fifth book to feature private investigator Cormoran Strike, the first four of which have been dramatised by the BBC.

Rowling, 55, has faced serial accusations of transphobia in recent months and trans activists said the new book appeared to take a deliberate swipe at the community.

“It’s really sad to see this road J.K. Rowling appears to be on,” said writer and trans advocate Ugla Stefania Kristjonudottir Jonsdottir, who quit Rowling’s literary agency in June in protest against the writer’s stance.

“It’s one thing to have diverse characters, but when you write about a man dressing up as a woman in order to kill women, you are deliberately enforcing an awful trope about transgender people.”

The trans-rights row does not appear to have dented sales, however, with the various hardback, audiobook and Kindle versions of Troubled Blood all occupying top five positions in Amazon’s bestsellers’ list.

The book revolves around the case of a woman missing since 1974 and presumed to be the unknown victim of a long-jailed serial killer.

In one scene in the novel, the murderer disguises himself as a woman to abduct his victim.

Rowling, whose Harry Potter series has sold more than 500 million books, weighed into the trans-rights debate in June, when she published an initial tweet criticising a headline that said “creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate”.

But while many in the trans community were outraged by what they saw as further transphobia from the world’s wealthiest author, others have defended her.

Scottish actor Robbie Coltrane, who played the gentle giant Rubeus Hagrid in the Harry Potter film series (2001 to 2011), told a British magazine that people were “waiting to be offended”.

Ms Bev Jackson, co-founder of activist group LGB Alliance, said it was “extraordinary that people have opinions about a book they haven’t read”.

“There are thousands of thrillers published every year, many of them will feature people who dress up in disguises, and this is fiction,” she added.


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