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J.K. Rowling will not be arrested for comments about transgender women, police say



J.K. Rowling shared a social media thread on Monday, the day a new Scottish hate-crime law took effect, that misgendered several transgender women and appeared to imply trans women have a penchant for sexual predation. On Tuesday, Scottish police announced they would not be investigating the “Harry Potter” author’s remarks as a crime, as some of Rowling’s critics had called for.

“We have received complaints in relation to the social media post,” a spokesperson for Police Scotland said in a statement. “The comments are not assessed to be criminal and no further action will be taken.”

Scotland’s new Hate Crime and Public Order Act criminalizes “stirring up hatred” against people based on their race, religion, disability, sexuality or gender identity.

“In passing the Scottish Hate Crime Act, Scottish lawmakers seem to have placed higher value on the feelings of men performing their idea of femaleness, however misogynistically or opportunistically, than on the rights and freedoms of actual women and girls,” Rowling wrote, in part. “The new legislation is wide open to abuse by activists who wish to silence those of us speaking out about the dangers of eliminating women’s and girls’ single-sex spaces, the nonsense made of crime data if violent and sexual assaults committed by men are recorded as female crimes, the grotesque unfairness of allowing males to compete in female sports, the injustice of women’s jobs, honours and opportunities being taken by trans-identified men, and the reality and immutability of biological sex.”

Rowling also appeared to test the new measure by sharing images of 10 transgender women — pairing a convicted rapist and sexual offender alongside an activist and a broadcaster — and referring to them all as men.

“I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offense under the terms of the new act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment,” she wrote. 

Rowling doubled down on her criticisms of the law on Tuesday and celebrated the announcement by police that she would not be prosecuted. 

“I hope every woman in Scotland who wishes to speak up for the reality and importance of biological sex will be reassured by this announcement, and I trust that all women — irrespective of profile or financial means — will be treated equally under the law,” she wrote on X.

Rowling has faced criticism for years for her comments about transgender people, including questioning whether more young people have come out as transgender in recent years as the result of a “contagion” fueled by social media. She has also contended that trans girls and women pose a sexual violence threat to cisgender women in restrooms, changing rooms and prisons, and reiterated those claims on Monday.

“It is impossible to accurately describe or tackle the reality of violence and sexual violence committed against women and girls, or address the current assault on women’s and girls’ rights, unless we are allowed to call a man a man,” Rowling wrote Monday. “Freedom of speech and belief are at an end in Scotland if the accurate description of biological sex is deemed criminal.”

Britain’s first trans broadcaster, India Willoughby — one of the 10 trans women Rowling shared an image of — slammed the author Tuesday in posts of her own on X. Before  the police said that Rowling would not be arrested, Willoughby called on the police to “start making prosecutions and protecting the trans community.” 

“If somebody put your name on a list of sex offenders, along with other innocent people, and then published that list to 14 million people would you be annoyed?” she said in a video, referring to Rowling, who has 14 million followers on X. “Would you maybe go to the police and ask them to do something? Would you be upset? Would you consider it hateful? Because that’s what happened yesterday.”

Speaking with the broadcaster Sky News on Tuesday, British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak declined to comment on Rowling’s remarks specifically but characterized the new Scottish law as a violation of free speech.

“We should not be criminalizing people saying common sense things about biological sex,” Sunak said. “Clearly that isn’t right.”

Sunak himself has been criticized for his remarks on transgender Britons. In February, he mocked the Labour Party’s position on the definition of a woman within minutes of British lawmakers hearing that the mother of a murdered trans teenager was in Parliament at the time.

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