J.K. Rowling’s ongoing commentary online about transgender people led four authors to resign from the Blair Partnership, Rowling’s literary agency: Fox Fisher, Drew Davies, Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir, and an author who chose to remain anonymous. The authors asked their agency “to reaffirm their commitment to transgender rights and equality,” and following discussions with the company, the authors “felt that [agency leaders] were unable to commit to any action that we thought was appropriate and meaningful.” They said, “Freedom of speech can only be upheld if the structural inequalities that hinder equal opportunities for underrepresented groups are challenged and changed.” Blair Partnership said it couldn’t abridge the “fundamental freedom” of letting authors express their views, with a spokeswoman saying they support diverse voices but refused to have staff “re-educated.” Jónsdóttir said, “We tried speaking with them internally before going public…. As trans people it’s just a matter of values…. We don’t want to be associated with an agency that doesn’t value the same things that we do.”
“Four or five” staff members at Hachette UK expressed reluctance to work on Rowling’s new book The Ickabog because they oppose her views on transgender issues, but were told they weren’t allowed to refuse the project. The publisher released a statement that said,
We are proud to publish J.K. Rowling’s children’s fairy tale The Ickabog. Freedom of speech is the cornerstone of publishing. We fundamentally believe that everyone has the right to express their own thoughts and beliefs. That’s why we never comment on our authors’ personal views and we respect our employees’ right to hold a different view.
We will never make our employees work on a book whose content they find upsetting for personal reasons, but we draw a distinction between that and refusing to work on a book because they disagree with an author’s views outside their writing, which runs contrary to our belief in free speech.
Hachette said, “We are approaching all the conversations with empathy and compassion and on a case-by-case basis.”
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