The Witch Trials of JK Rowling: what has Harry Potter author said about trans views on new podcast?

The Harry Potter author claims she ‘never set out to upset anyone’ with her comments
J.K Rowling at the World Premiere of the film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in March 2022 (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)J.K Rowling at the World Premiere of the film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in March 2022 (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)
J.K Rowling at the World Premiere of the film Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore in March 2022 (Photo: TOLGA AKMEN/AFP via Getty Images)

In a new podcast that addresses the criticism of her remarks against the transgender community, JK Rowling has cautioned against "black-and-white thinking," and urged people to “think again, look more deeply.”

The first two episodes of ‘The Witch Trials Of JK Rowling’, a new audio documentary series focusing on the Harry Potter author, were made available on Tuesday. However, the podcast itself is proving to be just as divisive as Rowling’s statements.

The author has been under fire for a number of years for her strong opinions on gender identity, and the stars of the Harry Potter film franchise – Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint – are among those who have spoken out against her views previously. She strongly denies transphobia claims.

The podcast’s host is novelist and activist Megan Phelps-Roper, a former member and spokesperson for The Westboro Baptist Church, known for its hateful views and frequent protests against the LGBT community and other marginalised communities.

Rowling previously tweeted that she had agreed to take part in the project after being approached by Phelps-Roper, because she felt the pair could have a “real, interesting, two-sided conversation that might prove constructive”. Here is everything you need to know about it.

What is said in the podcast?

The podcast episode titled Chapter One: Plotted In Darkness opened with Rowling discussing the backlash she received after sharing her views on gender identity, saying: “I never set out to upset anyone. However, I was not uncomfortable with getting off my pedestal.

“And what has interested me in the last 10 years and certainly in the last few years, particularly on social media ‘You’ve ruined your legacy, oh you could have been beloved forever but you chose to say this’ and I think you could not have misunderstood me more profoundly.

“I do not walk around my house thinking about my legacy, what a pompous way to live your life walking around thinking about what my legacy will be. Whatever. I’ll be dead. I care about now. I care about the living.”

The second episode of the series addressed the impact of the Harry Potter books, which have received criticism from various Christian groups in the US, with Phelps-Roper explaining there was a “clear presence” of good and evil in the franchise before asking Rowling: “How do you discern when a behaviour falls on one side of that line or the other?”

Rowling said: “That is such a deep question and it goes to the heart of Potter and it goes to the heart of much of my world view. There’s a huge appeal, and I try to show this in the Potter books, to black-and-white thinking. It’s the easiest place to be and in many ways, it’s the safest place to be.

“If you take an all-or-nothing position on anything, you will definitely find comrades, you will easily find a community – ‘I’ve sworn allegiance to this one simple idea’. What I tried to show in the Potter books and what I feel very strongly myself, we should mistrust ourselves the most when we are certain.

“And we should question ourselves most when we receive a rush of adrenaline by doing or saying something. Many people mistake that rush of adrenaline for the voice of conscience. In my world view, conscience speaks in a very small and inconvenient voice, and it’s normally saying to you ‘Think again, look more deeply, consider this’.”

Where can I listen to it?

The seven-episode audio series takesn the form of an extended interview with the author conducted by Phelps-Roper, who visited the author at her home in Edinburgh in May and August of last year.

The first two episodes launched simultaneously on Tuesday 21 February, with the next five episodes following one by one each week for the following five weeks. It is accessible on all major audio streaming services, including Audible, Google Play, Apple Podcasts, and Spotify.

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