Alice Walker defends J.K. Rowling's TERF views in new essay

"I consider J.K. Rowling perfectly within her rights, Walker says

By Kelly McClure

Nights & Weekends Editor

Published March 10, 2023 8:17PM (EST)

"The Color Purple" author Alice Walker attends the "The Color Purple" Broadway Opening Night at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)
"The Color Purple" author Alice Walker attends the "The Color Purple" Broadway Opening Night at The Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre (Mark Sagliocco/Getty Images)

In a new essay posted to her website last week, "The Color Purple" author, Alice Walker, defended the trans-exclusionary radical feminism views of fellow writer, J.K. Rowling.

"I read the first Harry Potter novel and thought it extraordinary, Walker writes. "I felt something old and wise, fresh and exciting had been offered humanity. Life with its vicissitudes prevented reading volumes that followed."

Addressing the anti-trans statements made by Rowling that have led to what she refers to as a "witch hunt," Walker goes on to say "I consider J.K. Rowling perfectly within her rights as a human being of obvious caring for humanity to express her views about whatever is of concern to her. As she has done."

Rowling, whose notoriety as the author of the Harry Potter books has been shadowed in recent years by the infamy of her TERF opinions, appeared on a Bari Weiss produced podcast last month to shrug off the backlash. 

When asked by podcast host Megan Phelps-Roper — a one-time affiliate of the Westboro Baptist Church — if she's worried about what her "legacy" will become, Rowling remarked, "Whatever, I'll be dead."

"The use of "guy" for both male and female eroded the ability of children to easily feel confident in which gender they were," Walker writes in her essay, defending Rowling's views. "From that confusion, considered irrelevant, apparently, to the forming of young minds, has come much cutting off of parts and restructuring of essential physical equipment. If such restructuring is freely chosen at eighteen or twenty, at least there is a sense the person involved may have lived long enough to know, definitely, what is desired.  Younger than that, I feel there may in fact be reason, later on, to mourn and weep. After all, the human body is a miracle, of whatever sex, tampering with a miracle is unlikely to serve us."

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Walker's essay, which was covered by Out Magazine on Thursday, received backlash of its own ramping up to the weekend, with many people taking to Twitter to express their disappointment.

"I think the worst part of Alice Walker's support for J.K. Rowling is the cynical deployment of her community elder status as if almost reassure us that her support for gender-confused is well-informed when in fact she sounds like every other TERF," tweets Zoé, a writer and assistant professor of photography at RISD.

"I think what Alice Walker revealed is that many of our Black Feminist faves are probably TERFs," comments dr. jenn m. jackson. "Not only that, they have a host of terms, concepts, and theoretical principles they can attempt to marshal to navigate around their transphobia. It just is what it is."

By Kelly McClure

Kelly McClure is Salon's Nights and Weekends Editor covering daily news, politics and culture. Her work has been featured in Vulture, The A.V. Club, Vanity Fair, Cosmopolitan, Nylon, Vice, and elsewhere. She is the author of Something is Always Happening Somewhere.

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