Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling has publicly sided with a woman fired for transphobic tweets after a judge ruled her controversial views were not protected under the nation’s antidiscrimination laws.
An employment judge in central London ruled that Maya Forstater, a tax expert fired for transphobic tweets, has no legal right to publicly question and ridicule the gender identity of individuals.
“Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security,” Rowling tweeted Thursday. “But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill”
Forstater was a visiting fellow at the Centre for Global Development, but did not have her contract renewed after transphobic tweets and has fought the termination in court, according to The Guardian.
But Judge James Taylor said the expressed views do “not have the protected characteristic of philosophical belief.” He said based on evidence Forstater acted “absolutist in her view of sex and it is a core component of her belief that she will refer to a person by the sex she considered appropriate even if it violates their dignity and/or creates an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment. The approach is not worthy of respect in a democratic society.”
Forstater previously wrote about opposition to the Gender Recognition Act, a 2004 law allowing individuals to change their legally recognized gender to correlate with their gender identity. She tweeted “men cannot change into women.”
She repeated that view in court and argued her expression is protected under the 2010 Equality Act, ironically a U.K. law that prohibits a range of discrimination including based on sex. It also covers discrimination based on philosophical views.
The Index on Censorship, a free speech advocacy group in the U.K., supported Forstater’s case, and did so by citing the controversial beliefs of trans-exclusionary radical feminists (or TERFs). “From what I have read of her writing, I cannot see that Maya has done anything wrong other than express an opinion that many feminists share — that there should be a public and open debate about the distinction between sex and gender,” said the CEO of Index on Censorship, Jodie Ginsberg.
Now Rowling’s “sex is real” tweet appears to be adopting the same dogma.
Forstater said on Twitter she’s exploring a legal challenge to the ruling.
“Women face discrimination on the basis of our sex. Women's rights have been hard-won in recent generations. Protections against sex discrimination depend on being able to recognise sex. This is why it is a protected characteristic in the Equality Act,” she wrote.
“This judgment removes women’s rights and the right to freedom of belief and speech. It gives judicial licence for women and men who speak up for objective truth and clear debate to be subject to aggression, bullying, no platforming and economic punishment."