Criminal Complaint Filed Against J.K. Rowling by U.K. Broadcaster Citing Transphobia

Source: Warner Bros

The social media feud between India Willoughby and J.K. Rowling is heating up now that the former has reported the latter to the Northumbria Police. Rowling is being accused of a hate crime for her repeated use of transphobic rhetoric on social media – some of which has been aimed directly at Willoughby. Here’s everything you need to know!

Who Is India Willoughby?

We all know who J.K. Rowling is (the author behind the Harry Potter franchise), but some of you might not know who India Willoughby is. The 58-year-old was born a boy named Jonathan, but made the transition into a woman sometime between 2010 and 2015.

Source: Twitter/India Willoughby

In 2017, she became Britain’s first transgender national television newsreader and later became the first transgender co-host of an all-women talk show when she joined Loose Women. She also competed in Celebrity Big Brother-Year of the Woman.

Willoughby Reports J.K. Rowling To The Police

Willoughby and Rowling have been feuding on social media for several years now, primarily because Rowling refuses to call Willoughby by her correct pronouns. The feud began in 2018 when Rowling unleashed her online attack against the trans community.

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In an interview with Byline TV, which was released on Wednesday (March 6), Willoughby revealed that she reported Rowling to the police for repeatedly calling her a man on social media. Rowling spreads most of her hate on Twitter, where she has 14 million followers.

Willoughby Cites The Equalities Act and Gender Recognition Act

In her interview, Willoughby says Rowling has ‘definitely committed a crime’ and details what she describes as ‘some of the worst abuse I’ve ever seen on social media’-not just from Rowling herself but also from her loyal supporters.

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“I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman, and she called me a man. It’s a protected characteristic, and that is a breach of both the Equalities Act and the Gender Recognition Act. She’s tweeted that out to 14 million followers,” Willoughby said.

What Is The Equality Act?

The Equality Act (EA) was signed into UK law in 2010. It ‘legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace and in wider society,’ which would be the equivalent of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 in the United States.

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The EA combined three former pieces of legislation-the Sex Discrimination Act 1975, Race Relations Act 1976, and Disability Discrimination Act 1995-into one act to simplify the law.

What Is The Gender Recognition Act?

The Gender Recognition Act (GRA) was signed into UK law in 2004. It allows people with gender dysphoria to legally change their gender by applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) – which India Willoughby has done.

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“The GRA enables transgender people to achieve legal recognition in their acquired gender and change their recorded sex on their birth certificate from male to female or vice versa,” as explained by the UK Parliament.

Likens Trans Rhetoric To ‘Calling A Black Person The N-Word

In her interview, Willoughby admits that she doesn’t know if her police report will be treated as a hate crime or malicious communications, but she feels as if it’s a ‘cut-and-dried’ offense. She even likened Rowling’s rhetoric to racism.

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“The equivalent of what J.K. Rowling says, calling a trans person a man deliberately knowing that person is a woman – and I am a woman, regardless of what J.K. Rowling says … should be treated just as somebody calling a Black person the N-word or an Asian person the P-word,” she told Byline TV.

Rowling Responds And Threatens Harassment Claim

On March 6, roughly two hours after Byline TV released their interview with Willoughby, Rowling responded with a series of posts on X – and she didn’t hold back. The 58-year-old author said her legal team has advised her that she has a winnable case against Willoughby.

Source: Flickr/Builders Beyond Borders

In fact, she might even bring about a defamation case against her. “India’s obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment,” she wrote – adding that she ignored the advice of her legal team in an effort to avoid giving Willoughby publicity.

Accuses Willoughby Of Homophobic, Transphobic, And Racist Remarks

Rowling goes on to share several screenshots of Willoughby engaging in homophobic, racist, and transphobic rhetoric herself – citing various posts from Willoughby’s X account. It’s important to note that Rowling referred to Willoughby as ‘he’ and ‘him’ throughout her rant.

Source: Flickr/Pottermcfly

“Nevertheless, we must all do our bit to combat hate, so India will be glad to know I’ve taken note of his homophobia, racism, and humane stance on immigration,” Rowling wrote. One of the screenshots showed Willoughby calling a ‘fellow trans woman a man on this very site.’

Rowling Alludes To The Forstater Ruling In 2019

In her fourth (of five) posts, Rowling defended herself by referring to the Forstater v Centre for Global Development Europe case from 2019. The landmark decision in that case found that ‘gender-critical views are capable of being protected as a belief under the Equality Act 2010.’

Source: Flickr/Janine Bowen

That means just because someone legally transitions into a man or woman, others aren’t legally obliged to agree. It basically treats gender-critical views in the same light as religious views, environmental views, and ethical views.

Rowling Vows To Cooperate With Police

Rowling concluded her five-point rant by confirming that she would cooperate with police when that time comes. As for right now, it doesn’t appear Rowling has any plans of stopping her rhetoric.

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“Aware as I am that it’s an offence to lie to law enforcement, I’ll simply have to explain to the police that, in my view, India is a classic example of the male narcissist who lives in a state of perpetual rage that he can’t compel women to take him at his own valuation,” she wrote.

Northumbria Police Respond To Rolling Stone

On March 7, Rolling Stone magazine published an article detailing the back-and-forth between Rowling and Willoughby. While the police have yet to make any arrests or citations, they did share a brief comment on where the case currently stands.

Source: Flickr/Emdjt42

“On Monday, March 4, we received a complaint about a post on social media,” a spokesperson for the Northumbria Police said in a statement. “We are currently awaiting to speak to the complainant further.”

Rowling Calls Out Byline TV Interviewer For Calling Willoughby A Man

Shortly after releasing a clip of the interview, the interviewer (Caolan Robertson) called out J.K. Rowling for not responding to his request for a 1-on-1. In that video, Robertson appeared to refer to Willoughby as ‘him’ – though the captions read ‘them.’ Rowling called Robertson out for this.

Source: X/@ZarinaZabrisky

On March 8, Robertson apologized to Rowling on X and offered a sincere apology – adding that he has a great deal of respect for the author. Rowling accepted the apology and asked her loyal fans to end their attack on him – but didn’t mention Willoughby.

Rowling Posts One More (Lengthy) Opinion

In another post on X, J.K. Rowling clarified her beliefs when it comes to gender recognition. While she believes transgenders should be treated equal and free to live their life as they please, she doesn’t believe that means others need to agree or follow along.

Source: Wikimedia/Executive Office of the President

“But this isn’t nearly enough for the dominant strain of trans activism, which asserts that unless freedom of speech is removed from dissenters, unless trans-identified men are permitted to strip away women’s rights, with particular reference to single-sex spaces like rape crisis centres, prison cells, hospital wards, changing rooms and public bathrooms,” she wrote.

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Ryan Handson

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