U.K. Broadcaster Files Criminal Complaint Against J.K. Rowling Citing Transphobia

A transgender journalist and reality TV personality in the U.K., India Willoughby, has reported Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling to police for misgendering her. “J.K. Rowling has definitely committed a crime,” she said in an interview with Byline TV. “I’m legally a woman. She knows I’m a woman, and she called me a man. It’s a protected characteristic, and that is a breach of both the Equalities Act and the Gender Recognition Act. She’s tweeted that out to 14 million followers.”

Willoughby, who said that Rowling’s comments inspired her followers to send the journalist “some of the worst abuse I’ve ever seen on social media,” achieved fame in the U.K. as a reporter on ITV before and after her transition. She’s since become the first transgender talk-show host on the channel’s Loose Women. She has also competed on Celebrity Big Brother —  Year of the Woman.

Regarding her criminal complaint, which Variety reports was filed with Northumbria Police, Willoughby said, “I don’t know if that’s going to be treated as a hate crime, malicious communications, but it’s a cut-and-dried offense as far as I’m concerned.” She said further, “The equivalent of what J.K. Rowling says, calling a trans person a man deliberately knowing that person is a woman — and I am a woman, regardless of what J.K. Rowling says … should be treated just as somebody calling a Black person the N-word or an Asian person the P-word.”

Rowling responded in a series of posts on social media. “Some time ago, lawyers advised me that not only did I have a clearly winnable case against India Willoughby for defamation, but that India’s obsessive targeting of me over the past few years may meet the legal threshold for harassment,” she wrote. “I ignored this advice because I couldn’t be bothered giving India the publicity he so clearly craves. Nevertheless, we must all do our bit to combat hate, so India will be glad to know I’ve taken note of his homophobia, racism, and humane stance on immigration.” She included screen shots of statements Willoughby reportedly made saying she’d take the “Trump route” regarding immigrants and another where she said she used tampons “so I don’t have to listen to talentless bigoted Black women.”

Rowling further asserted that she believed “the Forstater ruling established that gender critical views can be protected in law as a philosophical belief” and that “no law compels anyone to pretend to believe that India is a woman.” She finished her response by saying, “In my view, India is a classic example of the male narcissist who lives in a state of perpetual rage that he can’t compel women to take him at his own valuation.”

Northumbria Police tell Rolling Stone that they received a complaint but could not comment on the identities of the parties involved. “On Monday, March 4, we received a complaint about a post on social media,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “We are currently awaiting to speak to the complainant further.”

A rep for Rowling declined to comment beyond the author’s post.

Since 2018, Rowling has approved of or has made repeated transphobic comments, sparking public ire. Rolling Stone recently described the author as “one of the hardest-working transphobes online” and referred to Rowling’s 2022 novel, The Ink Black Heart, in which a character is persecuted for transphobia.


In 2020, actor Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed Potter in the film adaptations of Rowling’s novels, spoke out against the author’s views. “Transgender women are women,” he wrote in a letter to The Trevor Project. “Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject.”

This article was updated at 11:39 A.M. on March 7 with a statement from Northumbria Police.