A bestselling children’s author has been sacked after expressing support for fellow writer JK Rowling in the bitter row over transgender rights.
In the latest example of Cancel Culture, novelist Gillian Philip was last week jettisoned from her role writing titles for a major publishing company. It came after the writer, who has penned a popular series of books for eight to twelve-year-olds, added the hashtag #IStandWithJKRowling to her Twitter handle.
Her move sparked a torrent of online abuse and emails to her employer, Working Partners, a ‘fiction packaging’ firm which devises series for publishing houses and commissions authors to write them. Philip, 56, had expressed her support for the Harry Potter creator after she retweeted an article referring to ‘people who menstruate’ and questioned why the story did not use the word ‘women’. Rowling was subjected to trolling and accused of being transphobic.
And Philip – one of several authors who wrote under the name ‘Erin Hunter’ on popular animal fantasy series including Warrior Cats, Survivors and Bravelands – found herself sacked for her support of Rowling.
After Philip received sexualized abuse and death threats from the trans lobby, she tweeted, “Bring it on, homophobes and lesbian-haters.” And this inflamed the situation.
Within twenty-four hours, James Noble, managing editor of Working Partners, replied to the barrage of complaints, saying: “The worlds created by Erin Hunter are meant to be inclusive for all readers and we want to let you know that Gillian Philip will no longer be writing any Erin Hunter novels.”
The decision was condemned by Toby Young, founder of the Free Speech Union, who said: “Every day, people’s livelihoods are being destroyed and their names dragged through the mud because they’ve said something others disagree with. Anyone who challenges the view of these activists is immediately targeted for cancellation.”
Erin Hunter books are published by Harper Collins, which was also targeted by online protesters. Gillian Philip has also written as Gabriella Poole for the Darke Academy series and Adam Blade for the Beast Quest books.
In a statement released after the announcement of her sack, she said: “I am disappointed that the hard work and professional attitude I have brought to my work for Harper Collins and for Working Partners counted for nothing in the face of an abusive mob of anonymous Twitter trolls.”
Meanwhile, two of the biggest Harry Potter fan sites have distanced themselves from Rowling. Websites The Leaky Cauldron and MuggleNet released a joint statement saying that the best-selling author’s views on “marginalized people” are ”out of step with the message of acceptance and empowerment we find in her books and celebrated by the Harry Potter community.”
Both websites announced they would no longer be providing links to Rowling’s personal website, using photographs of her, or writing about her achievements that are unrelated to the world of Harry Potter. The statement also said that Rowling had voiced “harmful and disproven beliefs about what it means to be a transgender person.”
However, MuggleNet founder Emerson Spartz tweeted in support of Rowling, writing: “After hours of stomach churning & frantic pacing, I decided that, as founder of MuggleNet, I have to say something. I can’t believe I have to say this, but @jk_rowling is NOT transphobic.”
Rowling replied to Spartz, writing: “Thank you, Emerson, for being who I always thought you were.”
— J.K. Rowling (@jk_rowling) July 4, 2020