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J.K. Rowling is set to return an award presented to her last year by the Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights (RFKHR) organization after its president denounced her views on transgender issues.
The Ripple of Hope award, whose previous winners include Barack Obama, Joe Biden and archbishop Desmond Tutu, is given to people who have shown a “commitment to social change,” and was awarded to the Harry Potter author in December 2019 for her work with a children’s charity.
However, earlier this month Kerry Kennedy, president of the group and Robert F. Kennedy’s seventh child, made a statement about what she described as Rowling’s “deeply troubling transphobic tweets and statements.” She added that she had spoken with Rowling to express her “profound disappointment that she has chosen to use her remarkable gift to create a narrative that diminishes the identity of trans and non binary people, undermining the validity and integrity of the entire transgender community.”
Kennedy was responding to a series of comments Rowling made on Twitter that outlined her thoughts on gender identity, comments that sparked widespread condemnation.
“If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased,” she wrote. “I know and I love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removed the ability of many to meaningfully discussed their lives.”
Alongside LGBT charities, a number of high-profile actors from the Harry Potter franchise then released statements in opposition to Rowling’s opinions.
On Thursday, Rowling revealed on her website that she had “no option” but to return the Ripple of Hope award, because of the “very serious conflict of views” between herself and the organization.
“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,” she wrote, adding that Kennedy’s statements had “incorrectly implied” she was transphobic and was responsible for harm to trans people.
“RFKHR has stated that there is no conflict between the current radical trans rights movement and the rights of women,” she said. “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.”
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