JK Rowling billboard in Vancouver condemned as transphobic, covered up

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) — Less than 24 hours after a billboard proclaiming “I Heart JK Rowling” went up in East Vancouver it is being covered up, and one city councillor is applauding the move saying the message was insidiously hateful.

The billboard went up at the intersection of Glen Drive and East Hastings Street Friday evening, according to a Twitter post from the person claiming to have paid for it.

Coun. Sarah Kirby-Yung asked Pattison Outdoor Advertising to take the billboard down, Saturday morning.

“It’s hateful. The billboard was clearly intended by having a message that said I love J.K. Rowling to target the trans community, be an anti-trans message without getting into the statutory definition in the realm of hate speech,” she tells NEWS 1130.

“The clear intent here is to incite hate against the trans community to incite division. It’s clearly designed to cause harm and distress and that’s not something that we want to see in the city of Vancouver. We have had some really challenging incidents with homophobic preaching in the West End, people are really stressed right now in terms of the pandemic and a lot of other things that are happening and experiencing a lot of challenges and the last thing that we need is to divide people and push them apart instead of trying to get everybody through these tough times.”

In June, Rowling published a series of tweets that caused a firestorm of responses from the LGBTQ community and others. A Harry Potter fan group tweeted its disapproval of Rowling’s post and encouraged followers to donate to a group that supports black transgender women.

Rowling said she respects “every trans person’s rights to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them.” She went on to say she would march “if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”


GLAAD issued a response on Twitter, calling Rowling’s tweets “inaccurate and cruel.” The advocacy organization dedicated to LGBTQ equality then asked those upset by the author’s comments to support organizations that help black transgender people.

Kirby-Yung welcomes the news that the billboard is being covered up.

“I think it’s really important when we see these clear actions that are designed to be hateful that they are met with shows of solidarity from the community, from both people within the trans community and allies outside of the trans community to stand up and have a voice that is stronger than the hateful ones, and overcome the hate that we’re seeing so people feel that they are supported and that these actions don’t drown out the voices of support that are there,” she says.

“There’s a difference between dialogue and freedom of speech and actually intending to be hateful and divisive. That’s what this billboard was, and I think the community saw that and they responded and I’m really proud to see that show of support.”

With files Bethlehem Mariam and The Associated Press

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