Troubled Blood

In “Troubled Blood” by JK Rowling, the serial killer Dennis Creed tricks his female victims into his van by wearing a woman’s coat and wig to appear unthreatening. He “camouflaged himself behind an apparently fey and gentle facade”. He was abused as a child, then aged 12 began covertly watching women undress and stealing their underwear, which he wore while masturbating. He is a “genius of misdirection in his neat little white van, dressed in the pink coat he’d stolen from Vi Cooper, and sometimes wearing a wig that, from a distance, to a drunk victim, gave his hazy form a feminine appearance just long enough for his large hands to close over a gasping mouth.” He keeps his victims’ jewellery as trophies.

Is this transphobic? The Guardian books blog said not, saying he is “not portrayed as trans or even called a transvestite”. They say, don’t rise to the Telegraph’s criticism, a week ago (I found the article on Tumblr)

the disappearance of GP Margot Bamborough in 1974, thought to have been a victim of Dennis Creed, a transvestite serial killer. One wonders what critics of Rowling’s stance on trans issues will make of a book whose moral seems to be: never trust a man in a dress.

Pink News did, though it did not report the details. Much of the abuse seems based on the Telegraph review, and the books blog points out the Telegraph likes enraging social justice advocates. Vanity Fair’s headline was “JK Rowling proves her commitment to transphobia in her new novel”, apparently without reading the book. The Independent only read the review, not the book, and recounted Rowling’s other reported transphobia in a worthless article saying nothing anyone interested in the issue didn’t know already.

Vicious transphobe Catherine Bennett repeated Rowling’s transphobic ploy of portraying the dispute as between decent and reasonable women with “concerns” against a baying transactivist mob. Bennett also again obscures the difference between hate crime, which is actual crime, and hate speech, which isn’t. Making misogyny a hate crime would not criminalise any tweet which is not criminal already, as incitement to violence or terrorist threat.

There is a real trans woman serial killer: Beate Schmidt, who murdered five women and a baby. However, fiction multiplies that- “The Silence of the Lambs” came before Rowling’s 900 page doorstop.

Should we care? Well, Rowling clearly hates trans people, demonising us repeatedly. Defences include the argument that Creed is not a trans woman. Well, who is to say? Many people would transition if there was not the storm of hatred, but do not. I know trans women diagnosed by psychiatrists who put off transition. Creed is a figment in a transphobe’s imagination, but some trans women masturbate when dressed female, and may even steal underwear if they cannot get it any other way, especially as children.

Why did Rowling make Creed a cross-dresser? Well, he is a serial killer. Without the writerly skill to make Creed horrific, terrifying or repellent, she resorts to clichés. She finds cross-dressers repulsive, so she imagines her readers will too. She also says he was abused as a child. We cannot assess whether Creed is really trans, because he is a mere grab-bag of characteristics, rather than a character.

That defence of Rowling is transphobic. Creed is not a trans woman, it says: Look, he murders people! Well, trans women can be criminals, just as gay people or left handed people can be. One “bad apple” does not taint all of us, and it is transphobic to judge us all by one criminal trans woman.

Creed wears a woman’s wig and coat. Rowling is associating trans behaviour with murderousness. That is enough to be transphobic. Yes, trans women may be criminals; but there are so few of us, we are a tiny proportion of criminals. For a demonstrated transphobe to give a criminal trans behaviour is transphobic.

Should there be an outcry? There is an outcry because trans people have no power. Ideally, people would see how immoral Rowling’s transphobia is, and stop buying her books. In the real world, some people may buy the book because of Rowling’s transphobia. I imagine Bennett avidly reading a book she would otherwise have sneered at. People tweet because we can’t do anything else. Transphobes at the Telegraph and Times are loudly delighted.

9 thoughts on “Troubled Blood

  1. I’m really uncomfortable with your wording when you say ‘real trans women masturbate when dressed female’ you link to an article which I find really offensive… Were you aiming to be dry? As in, aye, yeah whatever..

    I don’t think you should try to speak for everyone in your name, I certainly didn’t do that, or ever ‘dress’ prior to transition… And stating that trans women Jane a sexual fixation or fetish for women’s clothing is just damaging.

    So I’m tempted to think I must have read it wrong? But in fairness you’ve given no pointer, and then you conclude with ‘so they could be assessed’

    Do you really want to say to the world that ‘real’ trans women (seriously, ‘real’?) masturbate when ‘dressed up’ as women?

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    • Welcome, Friday. Thank you for commenting.

      “Real” as opposed to fictional, such as Rowling’s character.

      My post which I linked to, claiming to refute the hypothesis of autogynephilia, summarises the work of Julia Serano. She theorises “Female embodiment fantasies” as an account of the fact that some trans women before transitioning masturbated when dressed female. I did, and I do not want that to be a dirty little secret that transphobes use to incite transphobia, but a commonly understood phenomenon. “Autogynephilia” is the hypothesis that the masturbation causes desire to transition. With Serano, I doubt that causation is proved. If anything, I think inability to transition in ordinary life causes the sense of arousal: there is evidence that those who transition younger, now, do not exhibit the correlation. It is still difficult, but it was even more difficult last century.

      I’ve just added a paragraph saying Rowling, unable to make a serial killer truly horrific, has added in a grab bag of characteristics she finds repulsive. Creed has insufficient existence to assess whether he is trans, or has any quality Rowling does not arbitrarily give him. There is nothing, not even a one-dimensional character, to assess whether Creed would transition if it felt able to.

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      • Hi Claire, thanks for your kind response.

        In your reply you said “some trans women masturbate…”

        And

        ‘real’ trans women

        I would have read your post much differently if you had used that wording /punctuation in the article itself… Not all trans women dress up and masturbate, I agree it shouldn’t be a secret, it has already been weaponised against us, but “real trans women masturbate while dressed as a woman” to me is a charged statement due to loose wording. And ofc real should be ‘real’ to denote you don’t actually mean real… No one twue way ofc.

        I’m not one of the super familiar and up on the subject people, to someone like me, and likely many other people especially cis women, your wording just makes it sound like we’re all furiously jerking off in women’s clothing prior to transition and cross dressing as children, you do not speak for me, so “some trans women” is much more universally understood and doesn’t attempt to speak for all trans women.

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