Beloved children’s author JK Rowling has lashed out at new gender rules set to govern SA’s court system, saying they could re-traumatise women who are the victims of male violence.
The outspoken Harry Potter star took to X this week to slam a ruling from South Australian Chief Justice Chris Kourakis that states “the use of preferred gender pronoun is a matter of respect and is an important component of ensuring public confidence in the proper administration of justice.”
The ruling, which will govern the operations of courts in the state, says legal practitioners may “consider the gender pronouns of a person and their preferred title … this includes, but is not limited to, counsel, parties, witnesses, interpreters, solicitors and entities.”
Ms Rowling said it could serve as a form of “state-sanctioned abuse”.
Asking a woman to refer to her male rapist or violent assaulter as 'she' in court is a form of state-sanctioned abuse. Female victims of male violence are further traumatised by being forced to speak a lie. pic.twitter.com/W0pvsyZctx
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) November 3, 2023
“Asking a woman to refer to her male rapist or violent assaulter as ‘she’ in court is a form of state-sanctioned abuse,” she said.
“Female victims of male violence are further traumatised by being forced to speak a lie.”
The ruling, released on Wednesday, is now in effect.
Ms Rowling has been outspoken in her criticism of what she sees as an assault of women’s rights coming from transgender activists.
Writing in June 2020, she argued trans activist were “pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender”, which she suggested could lead to more abuse of women.
Her remarks on the subject have generated controversy and former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has distanced himself from Ms Rowling, writing in an open letter: “Transgender women are women.”
“Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.”
“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments (from Ms Rowling) have caused you.
“I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.”
The issue has also roiled right-wing politics in Australia, with the Victorian Liberal Party, led by John Pesutto, expelling MP Moira Deeming from the Party room after she attended a rally critical of transgender issues in March.
Ms Rowling has expressed sympathy for Left-wing politics and has donated money to the British Labour Party.
Chief Justice Kourakis said Ms Rowling had “misunderstood” the protocol.
“It does no more than allow lawyers and others to inform the court of the correct pronunciation of their name and their preferred gender pronoun so that proceedings are conducted respectfully,” he said on Monday morning.
“However, the presiding judicial officer retains control over all forms of address used in court.
“For many decades, the courts of this state have taken every care to protect victims of crime and other vulnerable witnesses from the distress and trauma which might arise from their participation in a hearing.
“A victim of crime would never be asked to address an accused person in a way which caused the victim distress.
“I would prefer that social media commentators took the time to properly inform themselves before pressing the send button, but my only concern is to assure the South Australian public that Ms Rowling’s anxiety is completely unfounded.”
The South Australian government has refused to comment on JK Rowling’s post.