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‘TikTok Auntie’ Ann Russell brilliantly dismantles JK Rowling’s views on sex and gender

"Here's the thing that I really, really don't get..."

By Alastair James

Words: Alastair James; pictures: Tik Tok/@annrussell13 and Wiki Commons

TikTok star Ann Russell has managed to dismantle JK Rowling’s views on sex and gender in a neat 2 minutes and 47 seconds.

Russell – the so-called ‘TikTok Auntie’ who has amassed a large following with her good-natured videos offering cleaning tips and life advice – took to the platform on Wednesday (31 August) to discuss reading reviews for the Harry Potter author’s latest book, The Ink Black Heart.

In the book, a woman is accused of being transphobic and has her address posted online, and receives death threats before being found dead.

It’s been compared to Rowling’s experiences after airing her controversial views on sex and gender. She has recently tried to dispel this thinking, telling Graham Norton on Virgin Radio it “genuinely” wasn’t based on her own experiences, as reported by The Independent.

Explaining that she was reading The Times’ review of the book Ann notes that the paper made reference to Rowling’s “brave gender critical views”. 

“Now this is what gets me more than… yeah, I’m angry but also really confused. JK Rowling is, I believe, a good writer. I know about all the tropes that she put down in Harry Potter,” Ann says, referencing certain stereotypes that have been picked out since the series’ release. 

“But here’s the thing that I really, really don’t get,” she goes on to say. “I understand women of my age, and I don’t think she’s that much younger than me, can have what they, quite TERF-y views or you can start with them, I get that.”




♬ original sound – Ann Russell

She continues: “What I don’t understand is because I am a feminist and always have been a feminist, I listen. I always have listened to discussions around sex and gender. But because I have listened I have educated myself,” which Ann says is something that happens “when you keep your ears open.”

She says she now understands that “gender and sex are massively more complicated than ever I would have thought.”

“Now I picked that up just by existing and listening to things. So why can’t high profile, intelligent women with lots of resources learn that too? I don’t understand how knowing everything that I have learned over the last 10 years how you can continue to hold such an unpleasant view.”

Ann also tackles arguments that JK Rowling’s view is “brave”, defining brave instead as: “being trans and having the living shit kicked out of you just for looking a bit different and still having the guts to get on a bus.

“That’s brave,” she finishes. 

In the comments one person wrote: “‘I picked that up by just existing’. Such a simple sentence and concept but gave me chills”. Another person said: “I love you. As a trans person who grew up with HP & JKR I can’t explain how hurt and betrayed I feel about it. Part of my childhood is forever tainted”.

While someone else put: “1,000 times this. I’m 57 and spent time with my ears, mind and heart open and learned SO much from my trans kid. Thank you.”

In 2020 Rowling published an essay where she cited concerns about single-sex spaces such as bathrooms and changing rooms and that she has “deep concerns about the effect the trans rights movement” She also mocked people who menstruate. 

Her comments led to several of Harry Potter‘s stars, including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint to issue statements in support of trans people and distance themselves from the author. 

The Attitude September/October issue is out now.