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Authors quit J. K. Rowling's agency over trans rights

Rachel Savage

Reuters

London  /  Wed, June 24, 2020  /  01:07 am
Authors quit J. K. Rowling's agency over trans rights

British author J.K. Rowling poses with her medal after being made a Companion of Honour for services to literature and philanthropy by the Britain's Prince William, Duke of Cambridge during an Investiture ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London on December 12, 2017. (AFP/Andrew Matthews)

Three authors who left J. K. Rowling's literary agency over her views on transgender issues said on Tuesday they were disappointed that it had not taken up their offer to discuss trans rights or made a statement in support of the community.

Trans writers Fox Fisher and Ugla Stefania Kristjonudottir Jonsdottir, known as Owl, gay novelist Drew Davies and a fourth unnamed author said they were "saddened" to leave The Blair Partnership because of its refusal to speak up for trans rights.

Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling sparked controversy with an essay this month linking her experience of sexual assault to her concern over trans women's access to women-only spaces, which she said offered cover to "predators".

"It was never about changing anyone's opinion or censoring anyone," Jonsdottir told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in a joint phone call with partner Fisher.

"But for us it was about having an open and an honest conversation within the agency about trans rights and being trans people within the agency, for us as clients but also potential other clients or even staff."

A spokeswoman for The Blair Partnership, which also represents boxer Tyson Fury and retired Olympic cyclist Chris Hoy, said in an emailed statement that the agency was "disappointed" the four authors had left.

"We believe in freedom of speech for all; these clients have decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view," she said.

"We value all our authors' voices and, as an agency, champion equality and inclusivity."

J. K. Rowling declined to comment.

In Britain and the United States, there is heated debate over what it means to be a woman, pitting trans activists against some feminists who believe hard-won rights for women should remain ring-fenced for those born into that gender.

Access to single-sex spaces such as domestic violence refuges and bathrooms is a key flashpoint, with opponents of trans rights saying predatory men could pose as trans women to gain access to such places.

US women's rights groups said in 2016 that 200 municipalities that let trans people use their shelters and services saw no rise in sexual violence or public safety issues as a result.

"Agencies bring authors like me into their agency to be part of that diverse voice," said Davies. "But when it comes down to having meaningful conversations in terms of diversity that becomes much more challenging."

The Blair Partnership declined to comment further.

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