The J.K. Rowling Index

List of all J.K. Rowling's writings.

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Statement from J.K. Rowling regarding the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights Ripple of Hope Award

Index ID: STRFKHR — Publication date: August 27th, 2020

Since I first joined the public debate on gender identity and women’s rights, I’ve been overwhelmed by the thousands of private emails of support I’ve received from people affected by these issues, both within and without the trans community, many of whom feel vulnerable and afraid because of the toxicity surrounding this discussion.

Clinicians, academics, therapists, teachers, social workers, and staff at prisons and women’s refuges have also contacted me. These professionals, some at the very top of their organisations, have expressed serious concerns about the impact of gender identity theory on vulnerable adolescents and on women’s rights, and of the dismantling of safeguarding norms which protect the most vulnerable women. None of them hate trans people. On the contrary, many work with and are personally deeply sympathetic towards trans individuals.

Kerry Kennedy, President of Robert F Kennedy Human Rights, recently felt it necessary to publish a statement denouncing my views on RFKHR’s website.  The statement incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.  As a longstanding donor to LGBT charities and a supporter of trans people’s right to live free of persecution, I absolutely refute the accusation that I hate trans people or wish them ill, or that standing up for the rights of women is wrong, discriminatory, or incites harm or violence to the trans community.

Like the vast majority of the people who’ve written to me, I feel nothing but sympathy towards those with gender dysphoria, and agree with the clinicians and therapists who’ve got in touch who want to see a proper exploration of the factors that lead to it. They – along with a growing number of other experts and whistleblowers – are critical of the ‘affirmative’ model being widely adopted, and are also concerned about the huge rise in the numbers of girls wanting to transition.

To quote the newly-formed Society for Evidence-Based Gender Medicine (SEGM), a group of 100 international clinicians:

The history of medicine has many examples in which the well-meaning pursuit of short-term relief of symptoms has led to devastating long-term results… The “gender affirmative” model commits young people to lifelong medical treatment…, dismisses the question of whether psychological therapy might help to relieve or resolve gender dysphoria and provides interventions without an adequate examination.

I’ve been particularly struck by the stories of brave detransitioned young women who’ve risked the opprobrium of activists by speaking up about a movement they say has harmed them.  After hearing personally from some of these women, and from such a wide range of professionals, I’ve been forced to the unhappy conclusion that an ethical and medical scandal is brewing. I believe the time is coming when those organisations and individuals who have uncritically embraced fashionable dogma, and demonised those urging caution, will have to answer for the harm they’ve enabled.

RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women. The thousands of women who’ve got in touch with me disagree, and, like me, believe this clash of rights can only be resolved if more nuance is permitted in the debate.

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.

J.K. Rowling


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Hans Christian Andersen Award 2010 – Acceptance Speech

Index ID: HCAAS — Publication date: October 19th, 2010

Hans Christian Andersen is a writer I revere, because his work was of that rare order that seems to transcend authorship. He created indestructible, eternal characters. The Ugly Duckling, The Little Mermaid, The Snow Queen, and The Naked Emperor have become so deeply embedded in our collective consciousness that we are in danger of forgetting that we were not born knowing about them, that Andersen gave them to us. His stories have spoken to generations across many nations and have spawned a million interpretations, yet the originals retain the greatest fascination of all.

Andersen understood that writing for children does not mean pureeing what one would have written for adults. It ought not to be bland or soppy or devoid of challenging ingredients. Those who write for children, or at least those who write best for children, are not child-like or immature, but they do remember with sometimes painful intensity both what it was to be small and confused and how wonderful was that fierce joy in the moment that can become so elusive in later life. Any book that is written down to children or with one nervous sideways eye on the author’s fellow adults or in the belief that this is the kind of thing that ‘they like’ cannot work and will not last. Children are not “they”. They are us. And this is why writing that succeeds with children often succeeds just as well with adults — not because the latter are infantile or regressive, but because the true dilemmas of childhood are the dilemmas of the whole of life: those of belonging and betrayal, the power of the group and the courage it takes to be an individual, of love and loss, and learning what it is to be a human being, let alone a good, brave, or honest one.

Hans Christian Andersen’s work is an eloquent rebuttal to those people who would sanitize children’s literature. For all the warmth, humor, and beauty of his stories, he was not afraid to depict cruelty, injustice, or pain. His Little Match Girl dies quietly of poverty and his Mermaid shows that to risk everything and yet to lose has its own romantic splendor, its own grandeur. I do not presume to compare the Harry Potter books with stories that have lasted two hundred years, but I loved my own characters so much that leaving them all behind after seventeen years was a kind of bereavement. The fact that so many people enjoyed the world that I made stuns me every day, and yet miraculously, it still feels like my own private kingdom where I can’t help strolling occasionally just to see what my surviving characters are up to.

I love meeting young men and women who grew up reading the Harry Potter books. Sometimes they are apologetic. “You must hear this all the time.” But I’m never bored by meeting people who lived at Hogwarts with me. This is the miracle of literature to which no other medium can compare — that the writer and the reader’s imaginations must join together to make the story, so that there are as many different Harrys, Hagrids, and Forbidden Forests as there are co-creators, each one personal to the reader.

The books we read in childhood often have a particular power over us. Perhaps this is not only because we are impressionable and sensitive in youth, but because we are so exacting when we are young — happy to reject anything that does not hold our attention. Children don’t buy books because they think they ought to read them or because they want to display them on their coffee tables. Children keep reading purely because they want to know what happens next, and as such, they are the most demanding yet satisfying readership of all.

So, thank you to everyone, young and old who stuck loyally with Harry through seven volumes of adventures, to everybody at Harry’s many publishers who helped bring his story to new readers and with particular thanks to Gyldendal, my Danish publisher, to my family for putting up with me all these years that I kept disappearing on the Hogwarts Express, and of course, to the Hans Christian Andersen Prize committee and the city of Odense for presenting me with an award I shall treasure all my life.

Thank you very much.


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Prince of Asturias Award for Concord 2003 – Acceptance Speech

Index ID: ASTAS — Publication date: October 25th, 2003

It was a great surprise, and an even greater honour, to be told that I had been given the Prince of Asturias award for Concord.

I certainly didn’t set out to teach, or to preach, to children. In fact, I believe that, with rare exceptions, works of juvenile fiction suffer if the author is more intent on instructing his or her readers than beguiling them with a story. Nevertheless I have always believed the Harry Potter books to be highly moral. I wanted to depict the ambiguities of a society where bigotry, cruelty, hypocrisy and corruption are rife, the better to show how truly heroic it is, whatever your age, to fight a battle that can never be won. And I also wanted to reflect the fact that life can be difficult and confusing between the ages of eleven and seventeen, even when armed with a wand.

I have been writing stories for thirty-two years and have never wanted to be anything other than an author. I lost myself in books as a child, they were central to my existence, and my appreciation of their importance has only increased over time. Children need stories because they need to test their imaginations, try on other people’s ideas, inhabit other lives, send their minds where their bodies are not yet mature enough to go. No film, no television programme, no computer or video game can ever duplicate the magic that occurs when the reader’s imagination meets the author’s to create a unique, private kingdom.

The Prince of Asturias award is very meaningful to me because it celebrates that aspect of the books’ success of which I am most proud: the fact that so many children, of such widely diverse backgrounds, have chosen to accompany Harry during his five years at Hogwarts. I will therefore be donating my prize money to the International Reading Association’s Developing Countries Fund, which promotes literacy worldwide.


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