Days after a host of prominent literary names signed a letter defending JK Rowling “against hate”, more than 200 writers, publishers and journalists including Jeanette Winterson, Malorie Blackman and Joanne Harris have put their names to another stating their support for transgender and non-binary people.
The letter, which is described as “a message of love and solidarity for the trans and non-binary community”, was pulled together by acclaimed writers Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Daisy Johnson. With signatories also including Juno Dawson, Elizabeth Day, Max Porter, Nikesh Shukla, Sara Collins, Irenosen Okojie, Mary Jean Chan, Naoise Dolan, Olivia Sudjic, Sharlene Teo and Patrick Ness, it states that “non-binary lives are valid, trans women are women, trans men are men, trans rights are human rights”.
“Culture is, and should always be, at the forefront of societal change, and as writers, editors, agents, journalists, and publishing professionals, we recognise the vital role our industry has in advancing and supporting the wellbeing and rights of trans and non-binary people,” the letter reads.
Rowling’s comments on trans rights, including her argument that “if sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased”, have hurt many, while others have rallied to her defence. After the publication of her new crime novel Troubled Blood, which features a serial killer who wears women’s clothing to fool his victims, Rowling was attacked online. The novel made it to the No 1 spot on the UK book charts the following week.
The statement was put together in the wake of an open letter signed by 58 writers including Ian McEwan, Lionel Shriver, Susan Hill and Philip Hensher, which highlighted the abuse directed at Rowling, and the “insidious, authoritarian and misogynistic trend in social media”.
“Rowling has consistently shown herself to be an honourable and compassionate person,” said the letter, which was published in the Sunday Times at the weekend. “We are signing this letter in the hope that, if more people stand up against the targeting of women online, we might at least make it less acceptable to engage in it or profit from it.”
While the new letter, published online on Wednesday, did not mention the Harry Potter author’s name, its signatories, who also include editors, agents, journalists and publishing professionals, said they recognised the importance of showing support for trans and non-binary people.
“We stand with you, we hear you, we see you, we accept you, we love you. The world is better for having you in it,” they said.