Transgender Superstar Dana International to the Defense of J.K. Rowling: We Don't Need 'Unnecessary Wars'

A diva's support: The Israeli 1998 Eurovision winner and hit maker says ‘we must not jump too fast with accusations of transphobia’

Itay Stern
Itay Stern
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Dana International, left, and J.K Rowling. 'Sometimes the [LGBT] community goes to unnecessary wars with people who are totally with us.'
Dana International, left, and J.K Rowling. 'Sometimes the [LGBT] community goes to unnecessary wars with people who are totally with us.'Credit: Alon Shastel / At Magazine / REUTERS/Toby Melville
Itay Stern
Itay Stern

Israeli transgender singer Dana International has expressed support for British novelist J.K. Rowling, who has been lambasted by some LGBT people and members of the "Harry Potter" movie cast for her take on transgender women.

“Dear J.K. Rowling, I send you love and kisses from Israel,” International wrote on her Instagram account after Rowling tweeted: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.”

International, whose real name is Sharon Cohen, added: “Sometimes the [LGBT] community goes to unnecessary wars with people who are totally with us.” She said the subject addressed by Rowling indeed required discussion – “One can agree or disagree, but we must not jump too fast with accusations of transphobia.”

Israeli superstar Dana International's Instagram story.
Israeli superstar Dana International's Instagram story.Credit: Screenshot

International, who won Eurovision in 1998 with the hit song "Diva," added: “I remember hearing that the most successful writer in England complimented me on the media, several times.”

Four years ago, Rowling mentioned the Israeli as one of her favorite female singers. The Tel Aviv-born vocalist has been considered an LGBTQ icon since her 1998 victory at the song contest, which was held in Birmingham, England. (And was presented effortlessly by Ulrika Jonsson).

International’s support is significant because even cast members of the “Harry Potter” films, which are based on Rowling’s mammoth-selling novels, have said they disagree with her, contending that trans women are unquestionably women.

In 2016 Rowling revealed she is a Dana International fan.

International has often commented on the subject, saying there is a distinction between trans and cisgender women, and no reason to put them under one umbrella.

Rowling was criticized by LGBT organizations after discussing a May 28 opinion piece on the Devex website, titled “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”

According to the essay, “An estimated 1.8 billion girls, women, and gender non-binary persons menstruate, and this has not stopped because of the pandemic. They still require menstrual materials, safe access to toilets, soap, water, and private spaces in the face of lockdown living conditions that have eliminated privacy for many populations.”

Dana International - Woman in Love

On Twitter, where Rowling has 14.5 million followers, she wrote: “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out.”

The cast of the TV series “Pose,” which explores the queer ball culture in New York in the ‘70s, rejected the British writer’s comments. “I think she’s speaking from this place of just sheer stupidity,” Indya Moore, who plays Angel in “Pose,” told Variety.

“I mean, it’s just so dumb. She’s not even understanding how much death and violence are behind all of those opinions that she’s sharing on social media right now. Like she’s contributing to so much violence through her airing out her thoughts and ideas and opinions. She’s contributing to a stigma that is continuing to take our lives today.”

Diva To Diva - Charlotte Perrelli & Dana International

Steven Canals, a creator of the series, said Rowling doesn’t seem to understand that she can express her opinions because she is a privileged woman. “What I would want to say to her, one cis-person to another, is true allyship is knowing when to fall back and to listen to what the community needs from you,” he wrote on Twitter.

In response to the allegations that she is transphobic, Rowling wrote: “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth.”

Dana International rehearses for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Eurovision, which was held in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 2019.
Dana International rehearses for the opening ceremony of the 2019 Eurovision, which was held in Tel Aviv, Israel, May 2019.Credit: Avshalom Halutz

As she put it, “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them.”

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