JK Rowling not included on BBC reading list, like most other authors

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In yet another story that shouldn’t be news but is because of a transphobic moral panic; The BBC’s Big Jubilee Read lists “70 great reads” and doesn’t include JK Rowling.

The list celebrates 70 years of writing, marking The Queen’s Platinum Jubilee. The Reading Agency have compiled the list which is comprised of novels, short story anthologies and poetry collections published in the Commonwealth since 1952.

Spanning 31 countries and six continents, BBC big read are proud to boast what a “truly international collection” this is and how “fitting a tribute” it is to the most widely travelled monarch in history. The BBC article does not elaborate on why any of that is.

Indeed the first entry on the list is “The Palm-Wine Drinkard” by Amos Tutuola from Nigeria. A country whose people were often the victims of the UK Government’s Windrush Scandal. A scandal in which the UK Government were wrongly detaining, denying legal rights to and threatening the deportation of migrants from Britain. Some who had been settled here for decades, even. At least 83 illegal deportations were carried out by the Home Office.

Ignorance of the brutal and bloody history of British Empirism and the more recent examples of British xenohobia is probably quite the fitting tribute to the monarch, actually. However that’s not what has found people frothing with rage on the internet this time.

Instead people are angry because JK Rowling was not included on the list. They are claiming this is due to bias against the author for her “gender critical” (read: transphobic) views. Daughter of the late Terry Pratchett also took to Twitter to note her father’s absence from the list, sarcastically remarking on how that wasn’t bias either. Other notable exclusions include JRR Tolkien’s Lord of The Rings.

Many have also remarked on the fact that the list describes itself as being there to promote books that “readers might not have read before”. That includes Susheila Nasta, who worked on the project and spoke to BBC Radio 4 on the subject. She adds that the Philosopher’s Stone was on the longlist of 153 books, but didn’t make the final cut. With the reasoning for that being that “its a children’s book”.

All reasonable things to say, but you can’t reason with bigotry. Transphobia is a cult and will not tolerate any criticism against anyone who supports or is involved with it. So this complete non-story has become a story posted about in mainstream media publications, who could instead use their inches for talking about our healthcare crisis or the enormous rates of LGBTQIA+ homelessness in the UK.

For months now JK Rowling has been talked about in the media with regards to her transphobia and the backlash she is facing because of it. It feels like every day the media are running a new story on her, even if its just a minor thing like another celebrity having something either positive or negative to say.

I’m just so bored of it, and yes I’m aware that by writing this piece I have become part of the problem. But I don’t see the problem going away any time soon, the media don’t care about random homeless kids; their names won’t bring in the views like how slapping “JK Rowling” in the title will.

Gemma Stone
Gemma Stone is a transgender writer who has been covering the rise of transphobic hate campaigning in the UK. She has written hundreds of articles dissecting aspects of transphobia including debunking blatant disinformation. She is very tired and trying her best, and hopefully having a positive impact on such a beautiful community.

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