Last week, staff at Hachette, the company that published J.K. Rowling’s new book, threatened to strike unless the company stopped carrying the book because of Rowling’s views on transgenderism, (which included the shocking perspective that biological women are women); the company stood by Rowling. Now four writers represented by Rowling’s literary agency have resigned because the agency refused to issue a public statement of support for transgender rights and pledge action.
Fox Fisher, Drew Davies, Ugla Stefanía Kristjönudóttir Jónsdóttir and one another writer who prefers to remain anonymous quit the Blair Partnership because they could not assert the company “supports our rights at all avenues,” according to The Guardian.
The writers stated, “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 wasn’t willing to have staff “re-educated” just to please the four writers. Jónsdóttir, who co-authored the “Trans Teen Survival Guide” under the pen name “Owl Fisher,” wanted Blair Partnership to initiate staff training with the group All About Trans but said “these requests weren’t met positively by the management … We tried speaking with them internally before going public. We felt like we had to speak out about it. 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.”
Davies added, “I’m gay, I know what it’s like to be a minority, and I also know what it’s like to be in an industry where you have to be aware of your public persona and how that might affect sales. Every queer person has a shared experience of someone in a more powerful position saying something that feels hurtful.”
A Blair Partnership spokesperson stated:
We support the rights of all of our clients to express their thoughts and beliefs, and we believe in freedom of speech. 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.
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