In Mother Night, Kurt Vonnegut compared the bigoted mind to a clock with missing gears — a “cuckoo clock in Hell” which can keep perfect time for long stretches, but which makes sudden, unimaginable leaps. Author J.K. Rowling made one such leap on Sunday, taking a piece of news — Scotland is considering amending a law to make it easier for people to self-identify their gender — and jumping straight to the most upsetting (to her) possible consequence of such a law, where cisgendered women who have just been raped will be informed by police that their penis-possessing rapist is female.
Even though this hasn’t actually happened in real life, even though the Gender Recognition Reform Bill hasn’t even gone to a vote, and even though women — cisgendered and otherwise — are already capable of committing sexual assault, Rowling is very concerned.
“War is Peace,” she wrote on Twitter, quoting 1984. “Freedom is Slavery. Ignorance is Strength. The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.”
In her tweet, she linked to an article by The Sunday Times, which itself cited a piece by The Scottish Sun, which published correspondence between Member of Parliament Kenny MacAskill and Assistant Chief Constable Gary Ritchie. The two men explored a hypothetical situation under the law amendment, “Where a person, born male but who identifies as a female and does not have a full gender recognition certificate and then commits rape.” Assuming that actually happened, and assuming the current law is amended, they said that police would be required to log the rapist as female when filing their report.
In the U.K., a gender recognition certificate is required to legally interact with the government. The purpose of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill is to simplify the process. Scoland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said, “It will make the existing process of gender recognition less degrading, intrusive and traumatic. In other words, it will make life that bit easier for one of the most stigmatized minorities in our society.”
There is no rational reason to think that reducing red tape around the gender recognition process will lead to an increase in rapes, or that survivors of sexual assault would suffer even more than they currently do. It’s a bigoted leap of logic, the kind that Rowling has made many times before. She even set the villain of her latest book as a male serial killer who wears dresses. Last year she returned a human rights award after saying the organization’s stance on trans rights conflicted with “my own conscience,” and she also accused the transgendered, non-binary, and gender nonconforming community of “[erasing] the lived reality of women globally.”
War is Peace.
Freedom is Slavery.
Ignorance is Strength.
The Penised Individual Who Raped You Is a Woman.https://t.co/SyxFnnboM1
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) December 12, 2021