School dumps JK Rowling name over trans views and replaces her with Dame Kelly Holmes

5 January 2022, 06:31 | Updated: 5 January 2022, 13:04

The school has replaced a house named after JK Rowling with one named after another public figure with controversial views about trans people
The school has replaced a house named after JK Rowling with one named after another public figure with controversial views about trans people. Picture: Alamy/Google

By Daisy Stephens

A performing arts school in Essex has dropped its 'Rowling' house name over the author's stance on transgender issues, but renamed it after olympian Dame Kelly Holmes - who herself has voiced controversial opinions about trans people.

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The Boswells School in Chelmsford, Essex, previously had one of its six houses named after JK Rowling, claiming her perseverance perfectly suited the "self-discipline" theme.

But, the school said in a newsletter it had received numerous requests to scrap the 'Rowling' name and had axed it, saying her views on trans people "do not align with our school policy and school beliefs – a place where people are free to be".

The school made the decision to rename the house after Olympic star Dame Kelly Holmes. However, Dame Kelly has also come under fire in recent years over her views on trans people.

She was criticised in 2019 for saying trans women athletes should not complete in women's sports, saying they had an unfair advantage over athletes who were born biologically female.

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JK Rowling has been at the centre of a row about her views on trans people for over a year.

In 2020 she tweeted criticising an article for avoiding using the word "women", and instead opting for "people who menstruate".

Since then she has defended her views, raising concerns about "the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition and also about the increasing numbers who seem to be detransitioning", and branding it "misogynistic" to deny "the importance of [biological] sex".

"I want trans women to be safe," she wrote, explaining her opposition to allowing "any man who believes or feels he's a woman" into female changing rooms and bathrooms.

"At the same time, I do not want to make natal girls and women less safe."

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The impact of her words have reverberated through the Harry Potter community, with stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson calling her out on her views.

Last month it was revealed that Quidditch organisations planned to change the name of the sport to 'distance' themselves from the author.

US Quidditch (USQ), the governing body for the sport in America, and Major League Quidditch (MLQ), said in a joint statement that the sport had developed a reputation as "one of the most progressive" in the world and that "both organisations feel it is imperative to live up to this reputation in all aspects of their operations".

Matt Bateman, president of QuidditchUK, told the Times it fully supported the change.

"We cannot continue to call ourselves quidditch and be associated with JK Rowling while she continues to make damaging and hateful comments against the many transgender athletes, staff and volunteers who call this sporting community home," he said.