After J.K. Rowling published a transphobic screed earlier this month, multiple trans authors represented by the same literary agency, The Blair Partnership, asked the company to reaffirm its support for the trans community, and its commitment to trans equality. The company apparently refused—so they’re walking.
In a joint statement, writers Fox Fisher, Drew Davies, and Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir said that after private discussions, “We felt that they were unable to commit to any action that we thought was appropriate and meaningful.” Per The Guardian, an additional author, who wishes to remain anonymous, has also vowed to leave The Blair Partnership as a client.
“This decision is not made lightly, and we are saddened and disappointed it has come to this,” the statement reads in part, adding later, “Freedom of speech can only be upheld if the structural inequalities that hinder equal opportunities for underrepresented groups are challenged and changed.”
“We stand in solidarity with LGBTQIA—and allied—staff in all areas of publishing who are working incredibly hard to champion diverse voices and experiences to challenge the homogeneity of the industry,” the statement continues. “But the issues of inequality and oppression are far reaching, from racism to ableism and sexism. Agencies and publishers need to create platforms for underrepresented groups from the ground up and make meaningful change within their culture. Representation must extend into real and authentic representation of diverse voices.”
According to the statement, the authors have also donated to Shakti Women’s Aid, a Scottish charity that supports women of color who have experienced domestic abuse.
Earlier this month Rowling fired off several transphobic tweets that landed her in hot water on social media. She followed that tweetstorm with a lengthy blog post, in which she revealed that she is a domestic abuse and sexual assault survivor but used that background to peddle debunked myths alleging that trans people are dangers to women in private spaces like bathrooms.
Jónsdóttir told The Guardian that after Rowling’s blog post they had asked The Blair Partnership to issue a public statement in support of trans equality, and that they had also suggested staff training with the group All About Trans—a company they work with—as an adviser. But these requests, Jónsdóttir told the publication, “weren’t met positively by the management.”
The Blair Partnership has responded to the departures with a statement of its own: “We support the rights of all of our clients to express their thoughts and beliefs, and we believe in freedom of speech,” the company said. “Publishing and the creative arts are dependent on these things. It is our duty, as an agency to support all of our clients in this fundamental freedom and we do not comment on their individual views.
“We are disappointed by the decision that four clients have taken to part ways with the agency. To reiterate, we believe in freedom of speech for all; these clients have decided to leave because we did not meet their demands to be re-educated to their point of view. We respect their right to pursue what they feel is the correct course of action.
“We value all our authors’ voices and, as an agency, champion equality and inclusivity. We remain committed to making the agency the most welcoming environment it can be for everyone. The diversity of our clients’ voices is our strength and we take enormous pride from each and every one.”