The open letter was issued in the wake of JK Rowling’s anti-trans tweets during the week.
Over the past week, Harry Potter author JK Rowling has caused controversy with a series of harmful tweets – and later a 3,600 word essay on her website – about trans people, arguing that only women menstruate and weighing in on the tired ‘trans bathroom’ debate.
Multiple stars from Harry Potter, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint and Eddie Redmayne have distanced themselves from the comments and shown support for trans people.
Stars from Pose also challenged her views, with Indya Moore telling Variety: “I think she’s speaking from this place of just sheer stupidity. I mean, it’s just so dumb. She’s not even understanding how much death and violence are behind all of those opinions that she’s sharing on social media right now.
“Like she’s contributing to so much violence through her airing out her thoughts and ideas and opinions. She’s contributing to a stigma that is continuing to take our lives today.”
And co-creator of the series, Steven Canals added: “In this moment, her opinion is really harmful and damaging and just not necessary.”
And now, in an open letter – which can be read in full here – Mermaids have addressed the comments made by Rowling in her blog post.
The letter starts out on an emotional level, showing solidarity with the author as she revealed that she was a victim of domestic and sexual abuse. “We would like to begin by offering our solidarity with you as a survivor of domestic and sexual abuse,” the letter read.
“Reading your moving and honest account, we felt a connection to your pain. That connection exists between us, regardless of any differences we may have around gender identity.”
The letter also makes it clear early on that is is not “an attack on you personally. Nor is it a call for those who support us to send you abusive messages or make unfounded allegations.
“We deplore any such behaviour, and renew our longstanding call for a calm and reasonable conversation away from social media, where all people can listen respectfully to one another and trans people will be treated as valid.”
Addressing concerns about trans rights conflicting with women’s rights, the letter says: “To address the core of your point, trans rights do not come at the expense of women’s rights.
“We see no evidence that trans girls are a threat to other girls in any way. Indeed, it is transgender children who often suffer horrific bullying at school and at home.
“And, as you will have seen, it is transgender adults who are made to feel afraid in modern British society, by those who would seek to characterise them as a threat without any evidence or justification and in the face of considerable evidence to the contrary.”
Further down, it adds: “Trans rights do not affect either, just as the right to equal marriage did not affect the rights of cisgender heterosexual people to marry.
“Assumptions that trans rights remove or negatively impact the rights of women and girls is unproven, inflammatory and untrue, in much the same way that Section 28 allowed inequality to flourish, and affected a generation of LGBTQ+ people.”
It also addresses the common bathroom argument that Rowling referred to in her blog post, with the open letter countering: “It is not simple and it is most certainly not the truth to state that under the current Gender Recognition Act 2004 (which still requires a complicated, medicalised and lengthy process) ‘any man who believes or feels he’s a woman’ can be legally recognised in that gender.
“Furthermore, access to bathrooms and changing rooms is generally not controlled or restricted on the basis of legal gender, so the argument that gender recognition certificates ‘throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms’ is disingenuous…as well as smelly.”
After bringing research debunking the argument, the letter also referred to the anti-trans bathroom bill in North Carolina, writing: “The claim that simpler gender recognition will lead to unsafe changing rooms and toilets is further undermined by a strange and ignominious chapter in North Carolina’s history where, in 2016, these exact concerns led to the introduction of a law demanding people only use toilets which correspond to the gender stated on their birth certificate.
“The new law not only caused a rise in transphobia, it also opened up the possibility of increased harassment of women in public restrooms who weren’t transgender but who didn’t dress or present in a ‘feminine’ way. It also meant that transgender men were being forced to use women’s toilets.”
Elsewhere, the letter debunks Rowling’s arguments about trans children transitioning because of homophobia from their parents, being able to take irreversible medical decisions before the age of 18 and girls being forced to transition.
In closing, the letter says: “We have listened carefully to your blog and take heed of your closing words.
“We do not consider it a crime for women to express concern. We do however consider it abusive and damaging when people conflate trans women with male sexual predators, impute sexual criminality to trans identities, suggest that support of a trans child is parental homophobia and misogyny, and share uncorroborated and inaccurate information which severely damages the lives of trans and non-binary people.
“Again, we call for all threats and abuse to end on all sides of this conversation. For our part, all we are asking is that you meet with transgender young people and listen to them with an open mind and an open heart.
“Don’t speak about trans children, unless you’ve listened to them first.”