Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

J.K. Rowling And The Pettily Returned Kennedy Award

Illustration for article titled J.K. Rowling And The Pettily Returned Kennedy Award
Image: Bennett Raglin (Getty Images)

Harry Potter creator J.K. Rowling once wrote a book that was 766 pages. Yet somehow, her grievance against the trans community is her longest, most drawn-out story, which now includes the return of a year-old award after receiving some rightfully constructive criticism.

Here’s the Cliff’s Notes version of events: Since June, J.K. Rowling has unleashed multiple transphobic comments unto the world, including a rather lengthy screed posted on her website. Yes, it was definitely Pride Month. Yep, the globe was in the throes of protesting systemic racism and state-sanctioned violence. Oh, you bet she could have focused on literally either of those vital developments and properly educated herself. But she didn’t.

What makes this behavior even more nonsensical (if you can believe that’s possible), is that only a year prior, the nonprofit Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization honored Rowling with the Ripple of Hope, an award that recognizes those who, per the site, “demonstrated a commitment to social change and reflect Robert Kennedy’s passion for equality, justice, basic human rights, and his belief that each of us can make a difference.” (This year’s recipients include Dr. Anthony Fauci and Colin Kaepernick.) Naturally, when the author started to show signs that her passion for basic human rights didn’t quite extend to trans folks, the organization’s president and Robert F. Kennedy’s daughter, Kerry Kennedy, felt a need to address Rowling both privately and publicly. Kennedy posted a response on the organization’s site, which detailed why Rowling’s stance was so harmful:

I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community—one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.


Keen on having the last word, Rowling doubled down on her anti-trans sentiments and retroactively rejected the award from the meanies who dared to stand by the trans community:

In solidarity with those who have contacted me but who are struggling to make their voices heard, and because of the very serious conflict of views between myself and RFKHR, I feel I have no option but to return the Ripple of Hope Award bestowed upon me last year. I am deeply saddened that RFKHR has felt compelled to adopt this stance, but no award or honour, no matter my admiration for the person for whom it was named, means so much to me that I would forfeit the right to follow the dictates of my own conscience.

Cool story, Ro. Hopefully the honor will continue to go to deserving community figures and this instance will be remembered as little more than a bad spell.

If you want to support LGBTQ youth, consider donating to GLSEN, which promotes anti-bullying initiatives and gay-straight alliances in schools nationwide, and The Trevor Project, which operates a confidential hotline staffed by trained counselors who provide crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention services.


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