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JK Rowling returns Kennedy family award citing ‘very serious conflict of views’

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“Harry Potter” author J.K. Rowling returned the Ripple of Hope Award she received from the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization last year in the wake of recent criticism from the organization. 

Kerry Kennedy, the president of the human rights group and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, said in a statement earlier this month that, throughout LGBTQ Pride Month, Rowling posted “deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements.”

Rowling, who has been criticized in the past for her views on gender issues, drew criticism from LGBTQ organizations earlier this year over several social media posts and a lengthy essay she published on her website explaining her views.

Rowling hit back at Kennedy organization in a Thursday statement on her website, saying that she returned the award “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 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,” Rowling said. 

Kennedy said in her statement earlier this month, “I have spoken with J.K. Rowling to express my profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gifts to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and nonbinary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community—one that disproportionately suffers from violence, discrimination, harassment, and exclusion and, as a result, experiences high rates of suicide, suicide attempts, homelessness, and mental and bodily harm. Black trans women and trans youth in particular are targeted.”   

“Trans rights are human rights. J.K. Rowling’s attacks upon the transgender community are inconsistent with the fundamental beliefs and values of RFK Human Rights and represent a repudiation of my father’s vision,” Kennedy continued.

Rowling said Thursday that Kennedy’s “statement incorrectly implied that I was transphobic, and that I am responsible for harm to trans people.” 

The “Harry Potter” author was initially given the award last year for her work founding Lumos, “an international nonprofit NGO with a mission to move children worldwide out of orphanages and institutions and into loving family care by 2050,” according to the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights organization website.

Rowling’s June comments prompted responses from several stars of the Harry Potter film franchise, including Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed the wizard protagonist. 

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” Radcliffe wrote in a statement.

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I,” he continued.

Tags anti-LGBTQ bias Harry Potter JK Rowling Kerry Kennedy Transphobia

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