Now JK Rowling brands Nicola Sturgeon ‘the First Feminist’ in war of words

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Now JK Rowling brands Nicola Sturgeon ‘the First Feminist’ in war of words

JK Rowling's public feud with Nicola Sturgeon over trans rights rumbled on today as the Harry Potter author sarcastically branded the SNP leader the '

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JK Rowling‘s public feud with Nicola Sturgeon over trans rights rumbled on today as the Harry Potter author sarcastically branded the SNP leader the ‘First Feminist’ after it emerged that the party’s equalities officer threatened to ‘beat the f**k out of terfs’.

In a string of vile tweets now deleted, Cameron Downing, 23, threatened violence against women and – using the derogatory term Terf [trans-exclusionary radical feminist] declared: ‘I f****** hate terfs and transphobes with such a passion they make me want to SCREAM!’.

Aspiring actor Mr Downing has been an equalities officer for the SNP’s London branch since August and previously worked in the same role last year. He also worked as a contact tracer at NHS Lothian. When confronted about the Twitter posts, he said: ‘I apologise for these tweets and for any offence caused to the LGBTQ+ community and have long since deleted them.’

The outburst has sparked a public backlash, with Scottish Conservative MSP Rachael Hamilton thundering: ‘This is abhorrent language for someone in such a position to be using in relation to this debate. Given the sensitive nature of the subject, there is an onus on everyone involved to discuss it in a respectful and civilised way – not least an equalities officer for the SNP.’

Pressure group For Women Scotland added: ‘The SNP seem to actively want mindless thugs in their ranks – as long as it is only women they want to hurt.’  

Ms Rowling, who has faced death threats from trans activists, waded into the row today and chose to resume her ongoing war-of-words with Ms Sturgeon by sharing the story on Twitter and writing: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland: a place where an Equalities Officer feels free to declare in public how much he wants to beat up non-compliant women.’

Responding to another tweet about Ms Sturgeon’s next move, the Harry Potter author sarcastically said: Oh, I’m sure the First Feminist will be all over it, what with her a sterling record of taking women’s concerns seriously and loudly condemning rape and death threats to members of her own party.’

Ms Rowling and the First Minister are at loggerheads over trans-issues and the Scottish Government’s legislation to make it quicker and easier for individuals as young as 16 to change sex with no requirement for medical reports or evidence

JK Rowling

JK Rowling

Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon

JK Rowling’s public feud with Nicola Sturgeon over trans rights rumbled on today

In a string of vile tweets which have since been deleted, Cameron Downing, 23, threatened violence against women and declared: 'I f****** hate terfs and transphobes with such a passion they make me want to SCREAM!'

In a string of vile tweets which have since been deleted, Cameron Downing, 23, threatened violence against women and declared: 'I f****** hate terfs and transphobes with such a passion they make me want to SCREAM!'

In a string of vile tweets which have since been deleted, Cameron Downing, 23, threatened violence against women and declared: ‘I f****** hate terfs and transphobes with such a passion they make me want to SCREAM!’

Ms Rowling, who has faced death threats from trans activists, waded into the row today and chose to resume her ongoing war-of-words with Ms Sturgeon by sharing the story on Twitter and writing: 'Nicola Sturgeon's Scotland: a place where an Equalities Officer feels free to declare in public how much he wants to beat up non-compliant women'

Ms Rowling, who has faced death threats from trans activists, waded into the row today and chose to resume her ongoing war-of-words with Ms Sturgeon by sharing the story on Twitter and writing: 'Nicola Sturgeon's Scotland: a place where an Equalities Officer feels free to declare in public how much he wants to beat up non-compliant women'

Ms Rowling, who has faced death threats from trans activists, waded into the row today and chose to resume her ongoing war-of-words with Ms Sturgeon by sharing the story on Twitter and writing: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s Scotland: a place where an Equalities Officer feels free to declare in public how much he wants to beat up non-compliant women’

Could the row between Rowling and Sturgeon actually date back to 2014? 

2014 – Harry Potter author JK Rowling launched a passionate defence of the Union after revealing she donated £1million to the fight independence

2015 –  Nicola Sturgeon tells SNP trolls  to stop attacking Rowling on social media because it will damage the cause

2020 – Ms Rowling uses a novel to accuse nationalists of selling unicorns to win the referendum

2022 

March – Their public war of words begins  over the SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. Ms Rowling said: ‘The law Nicola Sturgeon is trying to pass in Scotland will harm the most vulnerable women in society’.

October 6 – Ms Rowling donned a t-shirt branding Ms Sturgeon a ‘destroyer of women’s rights’. 

October 7 – The First Minister suggests that the author is not a ‘real feminist’ – and that she is.

October 10 – Ms Rowling brands Ms Sturgeon ‘the First Feminist’. 

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The row escalated when Edinburgh-resident Ms Rowling branded the SNP leader a ‘destroyer of women’s rights’ – wearing a T-shirt with it as a motif – and Glasgow MSP Ms Sturgeon ratcheted up the row by suggesting that the author is not a ‘real feminist’ – and that she is. 

Rowling has since liked a tweet comparing Sturgeon to ‘Mean Girl’ school bully Regina George – a movie character.

The women have been on opposite sides of the independence debate ever since 2014 when JK Rowling donated £1million to the campaign against Scottish independence after warning that it could be a ‘historically bad mistake’ to leave the UK.

Ms Rowling said she believes Scotland is an ‘exceptional’ country but is convinced that independence would carry serious economic risks.

The animus is likely to have started in 2014 when the author donated £1million to help bankroll the campaign against Scottish independence, made 100 days before the referendum. It was the the biggest donation made to the pro-UK Better Together campaign, run by her friend and former neighbour, Alistair Darling, who would win 55% to 45%.

Ms Sturgeon was the SNP’s deputy leader and the result led to her boss Alex Salmond leaving his job and his protégé taking over.

Ever since Ms Rowling’s donation sparked a torrent of vile abuse from nationalist cyber bullies – or ‘cybernats’. At one point the abuse became so vile Miss Sturgeon stepped in and urged them to stop because it could harm their cause.

As well as the £1million donation, Ms Rowling, historically a Labour supporter, even used one of her recent books to slam Sturgeon’s Yes campaign.

One main character in her 2020 book Troubled Blood, Ms Rowling, writing under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, said of the Yes campaign: ‘The leaders are promising rainbows and unicorns if only they cut themselves free of London. Anyone pointing out pitfalls or difficulties is scaremongering. Experts don’t know anything. Facts lie’.

Their public feud began in March when Ms Sturgeon introduced her Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill. The controversial new laws would set up a quicker and ‘less medicalised’ system for trans people to change their gender – and from a younger age.

After the First Minister stood up in the Scottish Parliament, Ms Rowling made her first direct attack, tweeting: ‘The law Nicola Sturgeon is trying to pass in Scotland will harm the most vulnerable women in society’. The SNP leader came out and told the BBC she did not hold the same view as Miss Rowling: ‘I fundamentally disagree. The rules haven’t yet changed’.

The First Minister was asked directly about Ms Rowling’s t-shirt and dismissed her critics on the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, declaring: ‘Abusive men are a risk to women – that is what we should be focusing on. We shouldn’t be seeking to further stigmatise and discriminate against a tiny, tiny group in society that are already one of the most stigmatised groups in society.

‘There are many, many real threats to women out there right now, from attacks physical attacks, attacks of sexual violence to the removal of abortion and reproductive rights to what women in countries in Iran are going through.

Ms Sturgeon accused Ms Rowling and others of discriminating against transgender people

Ms Sturgeon accused Ms Rowling and others of discriminating against transgender people

Ms Sturgeon accused Ms Rowling and others of discriminating against transgender people

Demonstrators from Women Scotland (FWS) gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for a rally in opposition to the proposals, claiming they are putting women's rights 'in crisis'

Demonstrators from Women Scotland (FWS) gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for a rally in opposition to the proposals, claiming they are putting women's rights 'in crisis'

Demonstrators from Women Scotland (FWS) gathered outside the Scottish Parliament for a rally in opposition to the proposals, claiming they are putting women’s rights ‘in crisis’

‘The threat to women in our society today is not from trans women, it is from abusive men, from lawmakers who want to take away our rights and that is what we should be focusing on.’

‘I’ve always thought, on this issue, where people have very strong views, we should all try to treat each other with respect, and that’s what I will continue to do.’

And in a thinly-veiled attack on the feminist credentials of Ms Rowling, and members of For Women Scotland (FWS), she said: ‘There are no shortages of attacks on women that feminists, real feminists, as I consider myself to be, should be focusing on right now’, and accusing them of trying to ‘stigmatise and discriminate’ against transgender people.

Women’s Rights Campaigner Kellie-Jay Keen, who designed the T-Shirt Ms Rowling and other protesters wore yesterday, said of Sturgeon’s attack: ‘It seems utterly implausible that anyone who cannot define a woman as an adult human female could even begin to call themselves a feminist’.

What is the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill – and why are JK Rowling and Nicola Sturgeon rowing about it?

The SNP’s Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill sets out proposals to speed up the time it takes to get a gender recognition certificate (GRC).

The legal update would also lower the age at which trans people can obtain the document from 18 to 16.

The Bill would cut the length of time a person has to live in their acquired gender before applying from two years to three months.

They would then have to undertake a mandatory three-month ‘reflection period’, confirming at the end of this if they wish to proceed with their application.

A medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria would no longer be required, removing the need for doctors’ reports. 

However even some in the SNP have been critical of the reforms.

For Women Scotland says it campaigns to protect and strengthen women and children’s rights, and aims to ‘protect ‘sex’ in law and policy’, ‘help people speak up’ and ‘promote evidence-based discussion’.

A statement on its website adds: ‘We believe that there are only two sexes, that a person’s sex is not a choice, nor can it be changed. Women are entitled to dignity, safety and fairness.’

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Caroline Ffiske from Conservatives for Women said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon’s comments about JK Rowling not being ‘a real feminist’ are absurd. JK Rowling has been a hero and an inspiration for tens of thousands of women across the United Kingdom who have become increasingly concerned about the impact of gender ideology’.

Hundreds of women gathered outside the Scottish Parliament to oppose the changes, brandishing banners accusing the First Minister of wanting to erode rights and setting out the definition of a biological woman.

Ahead of the demonstration, Ms Rowling posted a picture of herself on Twitter wearing a t-shirt bearing the slogan ‘Nicola Sturgeon – Destroyer of women’s rights’.

Ms Rowling, who has faced death threats from trans activists, wrote: ‘I stand in solidarity with @ForWomenScot and all women protesting and speaking outside the Scottish parliament. #NoToSelfID’.

Dozens of protestors at the rally For Women Scotland (FWS) also wore the t-shirt, which caused a campaigner to be ejected from a parliamentary committee in June while a minister was giving evidence.

The plans have faced a backlash in recent months, with a watchdog warning this week that allowing people to self-identify could cause ‘confusion’ about their status in other parts of the UK.

FWS bosses called on activists to ‘come, lend your voice and send a message that women matter’, as a committee meeting on the issue was held.

Posting a picture of herself wearing a t-shirt with the message ‘Nicola Sturgeon, destroyer of women’s rights’, Harry Potter author Ms Rowling lent the group her support.

She tweeted: ‘I stand in solidarity with @ForWomenScot and all women protesting and speaking outside the Scottish parliament. #NoToSelfID’.

Papers lodged alongside the Bill by the Scottish Government estimate the changes could result in the number of people applying for a Gender Recognition Certificate (GRC) increasing from 30 a year to 250-300.

Five MSPs on the committee backed the legislation but the two Conservatives – Pam Gosal and Rachael Hamilton – opposed it.

The Bill sets out plans to speed up the time it takes to obtain a GRC, and also lowers the age for obtaining one from 18 to 16.

A medical diagnosis of gender dysphoria would no longer be required, removing the requirement for doctors’ reports. The period of time someone must have lived in their ‘acquired gender’ before applying would be reduced from two years to three months under the legislation – although a three-month ‘reflection period’ would be introduced to the process.

A previous consultation by the Scottish Government found 60% of respondents backed moving to a system of self-declaration.

A majority of MSPs on the committee backed removing the need for any medical evidence or diagnosis ‘believing that trans people know their own minds’. However some on the committee were ‘concerned that the removal of the requirement for gender dysphoria and the requirement for medical evidence may extend the GRC process to a large and more diverse group of people’.

They fear this ‘could potentially mean the process is open to abuse from bad faith actors, particularly predatory men’.

Concerns have also been raised about the impact the reforms could have on single-sex spaces for women and girls – such as female-only toilets or changing rooms.

The report said most MSPs on the committee agree that while such views are ‘sincerely held’, they are satisfied the Bill would not change any of the existing protections women have under the Equality Act 2010, ‘including the ability to exclude trans people from single-sex services where proportionate and appropriate’.

The committee report said: ‘The majority is satisfied that the Bill will not change or remove women’s rights, make changes to how toilets and changing rooms operate, redefine what a man or a woman is, nor change or expand trans people’s rights.’ 

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