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J.K. Rowling reveals past abuse and defends right to speak on trans issues

LONDON (Reuters) - Author J.K. Rowling has defended her right to speak about trans issues without fear of abuse in an intensely personal essay published on her website in which she revealed painful details from her past.

The Harry Potter creator has long been criticised by trans activists who have accused her of transphobia over her comments on social media, including a Twitter post on Saturday in which she criticised the use of the phrase “people who menstruate” in an article referring to girls, women and gender non-binary persons.

“I know it’s time to explain myself on an issue surrounded by toxicity,” Rowling wrote in a 3,600 word essay, published on Wednesday, detailing her research and beliefs on trans issues.

Rowling, 54, said she believed most trans people posed zero threat to others, were vulnerable and deserved protection. But she gave examples of where she thought demands by trans activists were dangerous to women.

“When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman ... then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside.”

LGBTQ group GLAAD accused Rowling of spreading misinformation and sowing divisiveness.

“Her misinformed and dangerous missive about transgender people flies in the face of medical and psychological experts and devalues trans people’s accounts of their own lives,” it said in statement to Vice, retweeted on its own account.

In the essay, Rowling said she was a survivor of domestic abuse and sexual assault and that the trauma of those experiences informed some of her feelings about women’s rights. She also said she has wondered whether she might have sought to transition to being a man had she been born 30 years later.

She said she had received abuse for her views including being told she was “literally killing people with your hate.” She said she refused to “bow down to a movement that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class.”

Rowling said she understood why trans activists consider the use of phrases like “people who menstruate” as a way of including trans women but said it was demeaning to many women.

“For those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating.”

Rowling has drawn criticism from the LGBT community and actors including Eddie Redmayne and Daniel Radcliffe, who feature in the Harry Potter films, for her views.

But she won support from some in the trans community, including Israeli pop singer Dana International.

“Sometimes the community goes to unnecessary wars with people who are totally with us,” the Israeli artist said on Instagram.

Additional reporting by Lee Marzel in Tel Aviv; Editing by Stephen Addison and Nick Tattersall

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