Things that are the product of human imaginations

Rowling must be punished for knowing the difference between sex and gender:

 The indiscretion for which she must be punished is saying that sex is real.

That’s sex as in male and female, not as in the activity. What kind of body a person has, not what they might plan to do with it in a “social bubble” (an England-only social bubble, it should be stressed). Sex as in the real, observable, and immutable difference between men and women.

Fortunately for her own sanity, the woman who made up muggles and quidditch and death eaters knows the difference between things that are real and things that are the product of human imaginations. She knows that sex is determined by chromosomes whereas gender is a made-up set of rules about how men and women ought to be.

Another important difference between things is the difference between ideas in the head and brute facts of the body. We can all imagine our bodies any way we like, and we can also change them in some fairly minor ways through makeup, piercing, exercise, surgery and the like…but we can’t change them too radically if we want to stay alive to enjoy the changes. One thing we can’t change is our bodies’ histories. We can do a lot to resemble the sex we’re not but we can’t change what we were when we first tasted the air.

Unfortunately, she also knows what it’s like to experience both domestic abuse and sexual assault, which is one of several reasons why discussions about sex and gender are personally important to her. She, like so many women, has a very specific dog in the fight about who should be included in the definition of “woman”, and how laws and policies should protect women’s rights.

And guess what: so do most women. So, in fact, do nearly all women. A few may be so sheltered that they never experience domestic abuse or sexual assault, but even they probably still experience knee-jerk contempt and dismissal.

With Wednesday’s post she has made it crystal clear where she stands. Yesterday’s headlines focused on the disclosures she has made about her personal experiences, not her challenge to the Scottish Government to reconsider its plans to reform the law around gender recognition. Those who stick to secondary sources will have read about the darkest parts of the author’s life, but will likely have little grasp of why she has decided to write about them now.

Those in the outraged online echo chambers might try their best to drown out voices who want to talk about sex, but telling people not to read the world’s most famous author feels like a losing strategy. This discussion cannot be ignored. We cannot vaccinate women and girls against male violence, so we have a duty to listen to survivors.

And a duty to refuse to let trans ideologues shut them up.

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