jk rowling trans debate
© REUTERS/Neil Hall; Getty Images / Lauren DeCiccaJK Rowling received death threats after commenting on trans issues.
Last summer, J. K. Rowling, the bestselling author behind the Harry Potter franchise, received torrents of abuse for insisting that there is a difference between a biological woman and a trans woman. "Erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives," Rowling wrote on Twitter, for which she received death threats. Rowling was not surprised by the abuse, which she had suffered before. But she was surprised by another aspect of the response: support. "What I didn't expect in the aftermath of my cancellation was the avalanche of emails and letters that came showering down upon me, the overwhelming majority of which were positive, grateful and supportive," Rowling wrote an essay soon after. The emails were joined by tweets, and even a hashtag: #IStandwithJKRowling.

I wanted to add my voice to those supporting Rowling. I wanted to tweet #IStandwithJKRowling. But I did not. I am running for City Council in Lower Manhattan, and as a candidate for office, I didn't want to risk being called transphobic. So I chose silence.

I knew silence was safer because like Rowling, I know what it's like to be canceled for speaking up. As a public school parent and elected school board member, I publicly defended merit in school admissions; as a result, I was accused of racism and cancelled by fellow parents and ultimately by my union and employer, the Legal Aid Society, where I worked for over 20 years. They chased me out of my job over a 600-word op-ed.

I was in the midst of that ordeal when I stayed silent over Rowling's cancelation. But now, one year later, I have come to believe that the costs of staying silent are too high for me — and for all of us.

The Nigerian writer Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie wrote about the price of our silence this summer in a searing essay about similar attempts to cancel her, and the impulse to remain silent as your name is dragged through the mud. "The people close to you advise you that silence is best," wrote Adichie. "And it often is. Sometimes, though, silence makes a lie begin to take on the shimmer of truth."

She was speaking of individuals, but her caution applies to nations, too. The silence of so many Americans in the face of so many lies — especially about issues of identity like gender and race — is beginning to give the shimmer of truth to these lies. People are starting to believe noxious ideas, like the notion that America is an irredeemably racist nation, or the idea that your sex is not a biological reality.

Staying silent when activists and politicians insist "trans women are women" has real world consequences for real women. The truth is, trans women are biologically male and they should be treated with dignity, love and respect. But many trans activists insist on language that erases the reality of biological women. Their desire to transcend biology, no matter how heartfelt, does not, and cannot, require me to lie or teach a generation of children a falsehood.

When I signed my two eldest children up for their COVID-19 vaccines, I filled out online medical forms which asked me what their "sex assigned at birth" was, as if some cavalier doctor had jumped the gun and carelessly assigned a sex to my three sons and daughter. I have three male and one female children and that is a biological reality that can't be changed.

Defending that reality, refusing to let myriad lies about sex gain the shimmer of truth, is now a risky act of defiance. But it is also, for me, an act of love and protection.

Girls and young women are being swept up in a social contagion which has them believing they are men. Rapid Onset Gender Dysphoria, in which young women with no early childhood expression of gender dysphoria suddenly identify as trans, has spiked in the last decade. "We have a hundred-year diagnostic history of [gender dysphoria], and it always began in early childhood and was overwhelmingly male," reports Abigail Shrier, author of Irreversible Damage, and yet now, there is a 4,000 percent increase in U.K. gender clinic referrals, and they are overwhelmingly for females. And here in the U.S., double mastectomies for gender dysphoric teens as young as 13 is on the rise.

If transitioning was a phase that girls could grow out of in their own time, it would be one thing. But the impact of these surgeries and hormones is in many cases irreversible. And as brave detransitioners continue to tell us, of the scores of young women who sign up for these procedures, too many will come to regret their choices and go back to their female selves forever changed.

So I say now, belatedly, I Stand with J. K. Rowling. And I do so with regret for the delay, with gratitude for her steadfastness, and with deep respect for all the women who have said so before me.

During my year of silence, I have watched with growing alarm the relentless attack on women's rights. I have watched in horror as the reigning orthodoxy has turned against the right to have all female spaces — even changing rooms and prisons. I've watched as we have lost our right to use language which respects and honors us (I am a woman and a mother, not a birthing person), along with the right to athletic competitions that are single sex and the right to proper medical care for all who suffer from gender dysphoria. This care would mean more than "affirming" their self-diagnoses; that is nothing more than the medical establishment fearfully head-nodding in agreement with the patient — a debased standard of care no other patients are subjected to.

If America is to remain a place where we have the freedom to speak simple truths out loud, we must remove the penalties attached to rejecting the woke orthodoxy. Be woke if you want to, but if your ideas have merit — as some do — then convince your fellow Americans of your points; don't bully them into silence.

The cost of silence is too high. It's time to speak up America.
Maud Maron is native New Yorker, an attorney and an Independent Candidate for NY City Council. She lives in Manhattan with her husband and four children. Find her at maudmaron.nyc.