JK Rowling sounds tired in the very last episode of the Meghan Phelps-Roper podcast The Witch Trials of JK Rowling. Rowling’s voice is cracking. She at one point gets emotional (well, maybe not “emotional” in the American sense of the word but Rowling does at one point appear saddened when Phelps-Roper describes her own past in the Westboro Baptist Church. “I can really understand why you had your long dark night of the soul,” Rowling says to Phelps-Roper).
Rowling is most heavily featured in Episode 7, the last episode, of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling. Episodes 6 and 7 dive straight into the meat of Rowling’s viewpoints on the trans community. In Episode 7 Phelps-Roper asks Rowling some difficult questions. She doesn’t coddle Rowling at all. Phelps-Roper clearly thinks Rowling owes some plain answers about her views concerning the trans community.
Episode 6 does not feature Rowling. In Episode 6 of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling Phelps-Roper interviews two trans people: Nathalie Wynn who is a trans woman and Noah, a trans minor who has gone through gender-affirming surgery.
Wynn, who also goes by “Contrapoints” on her massive Youtube channel, describes how frightening it is when anyone goes against the trans narrative. When Wynn once made a mild remark about how no one should be obligated to give her pronouns for every social situation, the backlash was intense. “When I was being Twitter-mobbed where I- the trans community kind of really turned on me,” Wynn describes to Phelps-Roper, “I remember walking around Baltimore with a hoodie over my head and sunglasses and headphones in because I was actually almost delusional about how total my ostracism was. I sort of thought I’d be hated on the street, which is crazy in retrospect but that’s how it felt at the time. It’s overwhelming. And that, honestly, got worse than the transphobia.”
Wynn’s admission that being mobbed by the trans activist community over the slightest deviation from their narrative was WORSE than transphobia is stunning. As if to prove that point, after The Witch Trials of JK Rowling was released, Wynn immediately reversed herself, condemned Megan Phelps-Roper, and released multiple Twitter threads describing how Phelps-Roper was dishonest and “used” her etc. etc.
Wynn had already experienced the trans activist mob once. This time she was clearly trying to get ahead of it before Phelps-Roper’s podcast was released.
Wynn’s suddenly condemnation of Phelps-Roper caught Phelps-Roper by surprise. Phelps-Roper tried to engage with Wynn on Twitter but there was no (public) reciprocation.
Wynn, however, has always had the reputation of being a bit of a snake. Phelps-Roper is not the first person Wynn has first engaged with and then suddenly turned on publicly for no apparent reason. Wynn also made a connection with Blaire White, another trans woman, and said that Blaire White needed to call out infamous child predator Jessica Yaniv.
Blaire White did exactly that in a now-famous interview where White grilled Yaniv. Yaniv responded by brandishing a taser on livestream. Yaniv was immediately arrested after the live. Tasers are illegal for civilians in Canada.
After the White/ Yaniv interview Wynn then made a video saying that it was unethical for Blaire White to go after Yaniv because White was pandering to transphobes. White responded by exposing Wynn as a backstabber. “You told me to do it in a DM!”
After that Youtube drama no one should be surprised that Wynn decided to throw Phelps-Roper under the bus.
In Episode 6 of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, Phelps-Roper interviewed a seventeen-year-old FTM teen named Noah.
Noah’s interview broke my heart. Noah was clearly trying, in his earnest seventeen-year-old way, to address JK Rowling’s views while using his own example to destigmatize the practice of minors getting gender-affirming care.
The interview ends up backfiring on Noah unfortunately.
Noah basically confirmed through his own experience that all of JK Rowling’s warnings about mentally ill minors being “trans-ed” and surgically altered are true. Noah talks about how he had “feminine interests” as a child and had no desire to transition. Once Noah reached adolescence however, he had profound mental health issues including “a very severe anxiety disorder, a depressive disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and attention deficit hyperactive disorder.” Noah also describes having suicidal ideation and self-harm habits.
Noah talks about never even thinking of transitioning to another gender until he started “discovering portions of the internet where people would talk about queer identity issues.” Noah states specifically that his “gateway” was Buzzfeed and videos about trans men transitioning, which fits right into the “social contagion” aspect of how suddenly a massive amount of teenagers say they want to transition.
Noah was clearly a child suffering from very severe mental health disorders so his mother took him to a therapist. The therapist Noah’s mother chose “specialized in gender issues in adolescents.” Noah says that the therapist’s specialty is something “which I find interesting to look back on.”
This same therapist also got Noah to see that what Noah was suffering from was actually gender dysphoria and the right steps to help Noah would be to transition.
Noah then got on testosterone and got top surgery at the age of sixteen, which frankly is risky as hell. Biological females are still developing their breast tissue at the age of 16.
Noah says that transitioning literally saved his life etc. etc. but then later on in the podcast admits that “Transitioning didn’t cure any of my disorders.”
Ugh. Of course it didn’t.
Noah says a lot of sweet things about JK Rowling and how much her Harry Potter books helped him through childhood. “I want to look back on this in ten years,” he tells Phelps-Roper, “And be like, ‘Remember when everyone thought that JK Rowling was transphobic and there was that big dialogue where she, like- I dunno, something-something.”
That statement left a pang in my heart because I don’t know if Noah, despite being only seventeen, will still be around in ten years. Nothing in Noah’s interview gave me any confidence that transitioning saved Noah’s life or did anything for his severe mental health problems. Noah is so sweet and so kind in his interview, but I have grown too jaded frankly to believe that transitioning truly saves lives. And I am tired of seeing someone post about how “My transition literally saved my life!” only to see the same account three years later show a post from the family about how “Our beloved child took his own life yesterday.” It just makes me sad.
I hope Noah survives.
Episode 7, the last episode of The Witch Trials of JK Rowling, is a straightforward interview between Phelps-Roper and Rowling. In that final episode Phelps-Roper really held Rowling’s feet to the fire with some very pointed questions. The people who have criticized Phelps-Roper for being too easy on Rowling have clearly not heard the entire podcast.
Phelps-Roper grills Rowling about the difference between “direct and indirect bigotry.” Phelps-Roper is repeating a point that Wynn made earlier about how direct bigotry- like the Westboro Baptist Church’s “God Hates F*gs” signs- is less dangerous because it immediately disgusts people. Indirect bigotry- the “I’m not transphobic I’m just asking questions” attitude- is far more dangerous. It puts a veneer of reasonability on an agenda that is in the end the same agenda as the Westboro Baptist Church’s.
I thought Wynn had a decent point here. The “I’m just asking questions” form of trolling — called “sealioning” — involves repeatedly asking bad faith questions that are designed to ultimately argue your opponent into frustrated exhaustion, thereby silencing her.
Obviously there are a lot of transphobes who enjoy sealioning. Hell, I just watched Matt Walsh’s film What Is a Woman? and that movie was 90% sealioning.
That being said, there are many people who have genuine concerns and hesitations about trans activism. They are not sealioning when they ask about trans women athletes who are unfairly taking medals from women or the word “woman” being erased from intrinsic women’s health concepts, or even just calling lesbians “non-men” who are “attracted to non-men.”
As Rowling states, “There is power to words with history, both good and ill, and to me the word ‘woman’ has its own power. And I do not believe we can meaningfully analyze the harms done to women and girls without using language that has concrete meaning.”
We all know what a woman is.
Rowling’s statements, in my opinion, are strongest when Phelps-Roper says to Rowling “You’re essentially making trans women second-class women.” Rowling pushes back immediately. “Women are the only group to my knowledge,” Rowling responds, “That are being asked to embrace members of their oppressor class unquestioningly with no caveat.” Rowling specifies that she has no quarrel with trans people who make a genuine effort to pass as women and go through “full transition.” Rowling goes on to say that “(Trans activism) has argued, continues to argue, that a man may have had no surgery whatsoever, but if he FEELS himself to be a woman, the door of every woman’s bathroom, changing room, rape center should be open to him. And I say no. .. And we are in a cultural moment where that individual’s hurt is being prioritized over the hurt of women. And I think it’s interesting to ask why- the pain of one group is being prioritized over the pain of other groups.”
Rowling, in my opinion, hits it right on the head here. Women are now being asked to accommodate any pre-transition AMAB person if that person says “I am a woman.” In this way, a penis-possessing person’s feelings are put as a higher priority than a woman’s sense of safety. It’s a very ancient form of patriarchy. The new pronouns are a twist but the underlying male supremacy is the same.
Heck, according to some college posters women have a duty to PROTECT penis-possessing people if they choose to use our bathrooms. Penis-possessing people just want to pee, but women aren’t allowed to just pee. We also have to babysit the penis-possessing people on top of other things we have to do in the bathroom.
Phelps-Roper asks Rowling the same questions that trans activists ask TERFs all day on Twitter. Why bar non-passing trans women from bathrooms to protect women? “A bad actor would come in regardless.” Rowling responds, correctly I believe, that women used to feel comfortable ordering men out of their spaces. “If my husband decided that he wanted to use the ladies bathroom,” Rowling says, “The women inside would feel confident in challenging his right to be there. In my view… most decent men watching a man walking into the ladies’ bathroom might well challenge him too. That is now being eroded.”
Phelps-Roper continues to ask Rowling a lot of good questions, some of them Rowling answers better than others. Phelps-Roper also oddly asks Rowling how Rowling can be against children deciding to transition when Rowling wrote books where 12-year-olds literally battle dangerous wizards and make life-threatening decisions all the time.
It was an unusually dumb question from Phelps-Roper and Rowling shot it down immediately. “Those are fantasy books.”
Finally Phelps-Roper asks Rowling the question that ultimately made Phelps-Roper leave the Westboro Baptist Church: “What if you’re wrong?”
Rowling sighs. She had just been explaining her position against minors getting gender-affirming care. “If I’m wrong, honestly,” Rowling says, “Hallelujah.”
Rowling sounds exceptionally tired at that point. When she said “Hallelujah,” I immediately thought of Noah from Episode 6. What if transitioning really DID save his life? What if transitioning actually wasn’t permanent body alterations done to misdiagnosed minors but actually truly life-saving for the vast majority of adolescents? What if Noah is still here ten years from now with a partner and a job or traveling the world and just still living his life as a man? What if Noah is still here and happy instead of another sad statistic on the Trevor Project fundraising page?
Honestly I think JK Rowling would prefer to be the cackling old bigot witch who was totally wrong about everything except how awesome her books were. Rowling hates being the feminist martyr fruitlessly pulling the emergency brake on the oncoming trans activist freight train barreling towards women’s rights.
Don’t burn the witch. Just let her cackle away on her own corner of Twitter while trans kids prove her wrong by living long happy lives. That’s honestly the future that TERFs wouldn’t mind. We just see too much evidence that trans activism in its current state is doing more harm than good.
But hey, maybe we’re wrong. And if so, as JK Rowling said, hallelujah.