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J.K. Rowling Attacks Reform Bill That Eases Legal Gender Change

Nicola Sturgeon and J.K. Rowling
Ian Forsyth/Getty Images; Cindy Ord/WireImage

It's just the latest transphobic social media salvo the author aimed at trans people.

Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling's latest attack on the dignity and rights of trans people is on a reform bill being put forward by Nicola Sturgeon, the first minister of Scotland, that would simplify the process for trans people to legally change their gender by way of obtaining a gender recognition certificate. This certificate is what's required for them to receive a new birth certificate reflecting their correct gender. To be clear this is a process that already exists in the country, the reform simply shortens the process. Rowling, who has been dubbed a TERF -- meaning a "trans-exclusionary radical feminist" -- is incensed.

Currently, applicants must be "medically diagnosed as having gender dysphoria, go through a minimum two-year process, and be aged over 18," according to The Times. Under the new reform bill, the medical evidence of gender dysphoria would no longer be needed and the age requirement would be lowered to 16.

Those seeking the certificate would also be required to live in their gender for a minimum of a three-month "reflection period," after which they would have to swear to their intention of living the rest of their life as that gender, with a penalty of a two-year prison sentence for false claims.

Upon learning of the reform, Rowling took to social media to stoke fear and share misinformation. "Some groups have voiced concerns that the proposals could erode women's sex-based rights and access to women-only spaces and services, including hospital wards and refuges," she wrote on Twitter. "The law [Nicola Sturgeon's] trying to pass in Scotland will harm the most vulnerable women in society: those seeking help after male violence/rape and incarcerated women. Statistics show that imprisoned women are already far more likely to have been previously abused."

Sturgeon made her disagreement with the author clear in an appearance on BBC Radio 4's The World at One.

"This is about a process, an existing process, by which people can legally change their gender, and it's about making that process less traumatic and inhumane for trans people, one of the most stigmatized minorities in our society," she explained. "It doesn't give trans people any more rights, doesn't give trans people one single additional right that they don't have right now. Nor does it take away from women any of the current existing rights that women have under the Equalities Act."

Sturgeon reiterated that "the rules haven't yet changed. The legislation was introduced to Parliament last week, and it will now go through a full legislative process with all the normal parliamentary scrutiny."

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