JK Rowling has been widely condemned for her latest novel after it was reported to feature a “transvestite serial killer”.
The Harry Potter author, 55, has attracted strong criticism for her comments on gender identity, sparking accusations of transphobia – which she denies.
‘Troubled Blood’, which will be released on September 15 under Rowling’s known pseudonym Robert Galbraith, is the latest instalment in her Strike detective series.
In his review of the book, The Telegraph’s critic Jake Kerridge questioned the author’s decision to include, among its characters, a cross-dresser who murders women.
An excerpt of the review reads: “The meat of the book is the investigation into a cold case: the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer.
“One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.”
News of the plot line has been met with outrage and concern on social media.
British Vogue columnist Paris Lees wrote on Twitter: “I don’t expect people who aren’t trans to every truly understand, but all I can tell you is that it’s beyond depressing to live day in day out under the threat and memory of violence towards you while simultaneously being told that you are in fact the threat.”
Meanwhile actor Jen Richards commented: “JK Rowling has basically become Dolores Umbridge, so obsessed with her deeply prejudiced perspective that she’ll go to any length to remain convinced of her own righteousness, no matter what harm it causes.”
And writer Charlotte Clymer commented: “LGBTQ organizations have offered numerous times to meet with JK Rowling in a private setting to respectfully discuss trans identities and the overwhelming medical and scientific consensus behind them, and she’s refused each time. Remember that.”
The novel’s publication comes amid an ongoing dispute over the author’s treatment of trans rights, which was ignited after she took issue with a headline referring to “people who menstruate”.
Responding to the article ‘Creating a more equal post-Covid-19 world for people who menstruate’, she tweeted in June: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Rowling has repeatedly defended her comments, saying: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.
“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”
The Standard has contacted Rowling’s representatives for comment.