“You have nothing to fear from people like me” – An open letter to J.K. Rowling

Ugla Stefanía, a.k.a. Owl Fisher, writes an open letter to author J.K. Rowling.

Dear Jo,

I wanted to take this time to write to you about your comments and stance on transgender people.

But before I get into that I wanted to show solidarity with you regarding the domestic abuse you have suffered. As a survivor of sexual abuse myself I know how absolutely horrendous and soul-destroying such an experience is.

To feel unsafe in your own home and from the person you love is bound to leave scars on you forever. I know that it has for me, and I certainly have trouble trusting men and I understand that your trauma affects you in various ways, as it does for all survivors.

I am glad you are out of that situation and are now living a happy, fulfilled life with your husband and kids.

What I also really wanted to address, which is something that I strongly detect in your words and stance, is that you have nothing to fear from people like me.

I find it hard to know where to begin with conversations like this. Like you, I can only come at it from my own experiences. I’m really sad to see that your experiences and situations have lead to you seemingly having distrust for people like myself, and I hope that I can at least attempt to rectify that to some degree.

“What I also really wanted to address, which is something that I strongly detect in your words and stance, is that you have nothing to fear from people like me.”

As a transgender person I have had to fight really hard for who I am. I’ve had to fight countless of people, even medical professionals, to get the health care that I need in order to feel happy in my own skin.

I’ve not only had to overcome doubt and fear from other people, but from within myself as well. I’ve had to chase away my own demons, reconcile with parts of me that I would rather have banished once upon a time, and learned to embrace myself for who I am.

Thankfully health care services are constantly shifting and improving, and modern research show us the immense benefits transgender people feel from getting access to the services that they desperately need.

Even so, we are still in a place where transgender people really have to fight for their access to health care in the UK, with incredibly long waiting lists and convoluted hoops they have to jump through. Seeing people suggest that trans health care is given on a whim and is unregulated therefore doesn’t ring true with experiences of the vast majority of transgender people across this country.

Fortunately, I have come to the other side and I am more happy than ever about where my life is at. Everyone around me can see it—and I feel it, too. My relationships and my interactions with those around me have never been more deeper or more meaningful, and that’s because I don’t have to hide parts of who I am.

The same certainly goes for our young people, which I believe strongly we need to protect and support. People are coming out as trans younger than ever, thanks to increased public awareness and access to services that provide support.

Increases in people or certain groups seeking out those services might seem high when people use big numbers like ‘4400%’, but such statements ignore the nuances and the fact that in the bigger picture, these numbers really aren’t that high when compared to the general population. Blanket statistic statements without context rarely give us the full picture.

Modern research shows us that support and medical help when appropriate is vital to ensure the mental and physical well-being of transgender kids and teens, and the rewards they reep from it are invaluable.

I’ve also been hugely fortunate to have been welcomed with open arms into feminist organisations and feminist groups both in Iceland and beyond, and this has really helped me articulate myself and become a better feminist and campaigner for trans rights.

While there have certainly been instances and discussions that I’ve found frustrating and challenging on transgender issues within those circles, this is also the case with so many other issues within feminism. That’s because feminism has never been a place where we all agree, but a place where we shape new ideas, share our voices and try to create a better society for everyone.

We all can only speak from our own experiences and place in society, and the fundamental aspect of feminism for me is to listen to the voices of those impacted, and those we are speaking of. If we allow the fears of others towards a minority group dictate how we feel about them, we are further marginalising them and doing ourselves and our values a disservice. We need to be able to see our own place of privilege and reflect on that.

I am fortunate enough to have been able to seek out the help I needed in terms of dealing with the trauma that sexual abuse had on me. They provided me with life-saving support and help. The fact I was a trans person never became an issue, nor should it have.

Since then I have worked in the Women’s Aid movement, and I have also always been a strong advocate in terms of raising awareness of domestic abuse and sexual violence. It’s something I find incredibly important as it impacts all of us, and certainly transgender people to a large degree.

This is why I find it so difficult and so hurtful when people claim that my presence there, or my access to such spaces, could potentially be a threat to others. I know for a fact that it isn’t, as I know how these services work, and that these services have been inclusive for decades. Trans women do not pose a threat to other women, whether that is in gendered spaces or in general society.

I recognise that many will still say that they feel afraid of trans women or sharing spaces with them, and will perhaps draw up instances where a trans woman has been abusive. But like with any crop, there will always be bad apples. And as we all know, using extreme cases of violence to paint an entire social group as dangerous is a precarious way to make your argument, and is not founded in fact and reason, but fear and ignorance.

Trans people having access to gendered spaces or services, or trans people receiving more rights will in no way diminish or erode the work that these services offer or that many charities do—whether or not they are directly related to people’s physical characteristics.

In Iceland, where I’m from, we are already miles ahead in terms of legal rights compared to the UK. This hasn’t negatively impacted anyone’s rights, definitions, or the amazing work many charities do for women—cisgender or otherwise.

All trans people wish for is that they are included in conversations that impact them, i.e. when it comes down to menstruation. It is something that affects transgender men and non-binary people, and to be inclusive of that when appropriate can hardly be seen as erasure; but rather expansion and inclusion.

I am aware of all the amazing philanthropic work that you do, and all the wonderful projects you support with your charitable trust. In your essay that you released on your website, you said you were worried that ‘new trans activism’ would negatively impact your work.

I want to assure you that this is not the case, and I am sorry if you have been lead to believe otherwise. Transgender people certainly don’t have that power, nor do they wish to wield it.

The fight for an equal society regardless of your gender identity does in no way seek to erode such important work, but merely wishes for those who it impacts to be included in the conversation where appropriate.

Transgender people are very often painfully aware of the sex characteristics, that often cause us great distress and agony. This is why many of us seek medical care in terms of hormonal therapy and surgeries that alter those sex characteristics; so that we can feel happy in our own skin.

“I am aware of all the amazing philanthropic work that you do, and all the wonderful projects you support with your charitable trust. In your essay that you released on your website, you said you were worried that ‘new trans activism’ would negatively impact your work.”

Transgender people are fully aware of the physical differences between them and others of the same gender. For example, transgender women and cisgender women certainly have physical differences, as do women within those categories itself—and vice versa for transgender men. Those of us who are non-binary are also fully aware of our physical characteristics and where we fall on the spectrum.

Those differences however, should never be used as an excuse to exclude trans people from services, spaces or communities. Exclusion is never the answer.

There are many people who have also written about this who are much more articulate than I am, and I suggest you read their work, continue seeking out charities that work for transgender people and listen to the stories of transgender people themselves.

This debate has been toxic for a very long time, and I think we all have a responsibility to be aware of that and the massive impact this debate is having on transgender people in terms of their mental health and physical safety. It is easy to fall into a rabbit hole of misinformation that is disguised as reasonable arguments, and I think we all need to remember to remain critical, see the bigger picture and not be swayed by arguments that are founded in conservative values, fundamentalism and zero sum debates.

Many of the arguments that I see put out there in the public domain are robbed of the human experience we all share. If we were able to see that, even for a moment, I strongly believe we would find that all our fears, worries and concerns all stem from the same problem that we can fight together, to create a world where everyone is respected and loved exactly for who they are, regardless of gender, identity, physical characteristics or history.

None of us are the sum of our parts, but we are all the sum of our actions. Let’s make sure that those contribute to a positive, equal and more open society.

The Hamburger Factory
- gourmet burgers

Ok. You’re in Iceland. Most likely for the first time.

You will probably bathe in the Blue Lagoon and take a road trip to Gullfoss and
Geysir. That’s all well and good. But neither Geysir’s nor waterfalls are
something you eat. That’s why we have 15 brilliant and creative hamburgers at
The Hamburger Factory. And they are all perfectly square. Don’t miss out on
Iceland’s most beloved hamburgers.

The Hamburger Factory is Iceland’s most innovative gourmet burger chain.
Packed with burger-craving customers since it’s opening in 2010, among the
regulars is Iceland’s best known fisherman, Eric Clapton. In our restaurants we
welcome tourists with our newspaper like menu and smiley service. They are
packed with fun items and memorable connections to Icelandic pop culture.

Locations:

Omnom Chocolate
- award-winning chocolate maker

    Omnom Chocolate is an Icelandic craft chocolate company based in Reykjavík. We produce handcrafted chocolate from organic cacao beans sourced ethically and sustainably. We’ve developed direct relationships to create premium chocolate with fine flavor cacao beans.

    Our creative flavors are carefully crafted by meticulous chocolate makers. The cacao beans are roasted, winnowed, ground, and refined into melty-smooth chocolate.

    Omnom’s process is one of constant exploration, invention, and experimentation. If it doesn’t please us, if something isn’t absolutely delicious, there’s no reason to be doing it. So, we always start with our taste buds and follow our instincts. Our team searches for the finest ingredients in the world and new ways to improve chocolate. This obsession with knowing where our ingredients come from has led us around the corner to dairy farms in the Icelandic countryside and all the way to rainforest cacao farms of Nicaragua.

    In only a few short years, we’ve grown from our 50 sq. m. petrol station space and become an award-winning chocolate maker. Now, with our headquarters in 101 Reykjavík, our chocolate is sent out around Iceland and all over the world.

    At the end of the day, our goal is to make chocolate.

     

    Alfred’s Apartments
    - gay owned an operated

      Alfred’s Apartments and Alfred’s Studios is a gay operated and owned accommodation in the heart of Reykjavik.

      Alfred’s Apartments offers spacious apartments at a good price located just around the corner from Laugavegur shopping street. You can choose the apartment starting from a Small Studio for 2 persons to a large One-bedroom Apartment with balcony for 5 persons.

      Their staff will ensure your comfort during the stay and provide the most updated information about the city, gay and night life in Reykjavik.

      Each apartment has a private bathroom with a shower, fully equipped kitchen and free Wi-Fi. Guests can buy groceries at the local grocery store 50 meters from the apartments. Because of their very central location, numerous shops, restaurants and cafés are available in the surrounding area. The Church of Hallgrimur is located 350 m from the apartments, a tourist agency is just 50 m away and the nearest gay bar is less than 5 minutes walking distance.

      Laekur hostel
      In the hostel we have dorms for 4-8 persons with shared kitchen and bathroom facilities. The rooms are furnished with free internet, lockers, and a USB charger by each bed. The beds have linen provided and you can rent a towel in the cafe on the ground floor for 5 EUR.

      All the dorms are mixed with both genders. You can also book a whole room with 4-8 bunker beds.

      Blue Lagoon
      - a world of wonder

      Named by National Geographic as one of the 25 Wonders of the World, the Blue Lagoon is a shimmering expanse of warmth, relaxation, and rejuvenation. Its unique geothermal seawater comes from 2000 meters within the earth where sea and fresh water converge in a tectonic frontier of porous lava and searing heat. Propelled by extreme pressure, the water ascends to the earth’s surface, emerging enriched with silica, algae, and minerals: the elements that endow Blue Lagoon geothermal seawater with its radiant, healing properties.

      From its humble beginnings in the shadows of a geothermal power plant, Blue Lagoon has evolved into a world of wonder, now encompassing a hotel, a restaurant, a luxury lounge, a renowned line of skin care, a research center, in-water massage, and a wealth of spa and refreshment facilities.

      Achieving harmony with the volcanic landscape of Iceland’s Reykjanes lava plain, the lagoon and its surrounding architecture embody the unification of the man-made and the natural, and adhere to the highest principles of sustainability.

      Blue Lagoon. A wonder of the world. A world of wonder.

      Whales of Iceland
      - larger than life

      Whales of Iceland is the largest whale exhibition in Europe (and perhaps even the world), where guests can learn about the giants of the sea in a calm and modern environment. The permanent exhibition features whales like guests have never seen them before. It is truly a giant experience.

      Landsbankinn
      - leading financial institution

      Landsbankinn is a leading Icelandic financial institution. It offers a full range of financial services and is the market leader in the Icelandic financial service sector with the largest branch network.

      The present bank was established on 7 October 2008 but the history of its predecessor dates back to 1886. The bank is owned by the National Treasury of Iceland, which holds 98.2% of its share capital, and other shareholders who own 1.8%.

      Landsbankinn’s strategy is to provide comprehensive financial services that meet customer’s needs. It emphasizes providing exemplary service to customers, developing e-banking for their convenience, increasing the efficiency of support functions, modernizing its technology and ensuring effective utilization of its balance sheet.

      The bank’s vision is to be exemplary and its role is to be a trusted financial partner.

      Special emphasis is placed on promoting a performance-oriented culture in the bank. To follow up on the implementation of this strategy, the bank has defined key goals which are measured regularly to determine progress. These goals include, for example, customer satisfaction and loyalty, profitability, cost efficiency and the correlation between risk appetite and employee satisfaction.

      Landsbankinn wishes to lead the development of a sustainable society in Iceland by integrating economic, social and environmental concerns in its operations. The Bank aims to ensure that both its owners and society at large benefit from its activities.

      It intends to achieve this aim by building solid infrastructure and a strong team of 1.100 employees, by listening to its customers and by respecting and encouraging its employees to actively participate in their community. Landsbankinn was a founding member of Festa, a Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility, and is a member of the UN Global Compact.

      Landsbankinn has been a proud sponsor of the Reykjavik Pride since it was first celebrated in Iceland.

      Dohop
      - get inspired

      Dohop allows people to find the cheapest flights available with just one click. Founded in Reykjavik in 2004, it is the only Icelandic company of its kind and quickly became the go-to tool for finding cheap flights among the locals. Dohop finds the best deals among hundreds of different airlines and online travel agencies, to make sure that the user is getting the cheapest price. Dohop also offers hotel and car rental search engines, so users can make all of their travel bookings from a single website.

      Dohop‘s specialty is finding so-called “self-connect” flight options, which can save travelers money by booking a ticket through two or more different airlines. The ability to look for these self-connect option is what sets Dohop apart from its competition, as it can save people hundreds of dollars on certain routes.

      More recently, Dohop has developed a unique product called Dohop Go!, which allows users to check for the cheapest available flights from their home airport. This tool is perfect for those who are looking for travel inspiration but are not willing to overpay for their flight ticket. Dohop Go! is now available in the Dohop Flights App, both for Android and iOS, along with its traditional flight, hotel, and car search engines. “

      Macland
      - for all your Apple needs

      From starting out as a proper startup with only a good idea and the need to change things, to becoming an established company with 6 employees. Starting from scratch and expanding organically has allowed us to love our expansion and take our customers on the ride with us.

      Macland is located at Laugavegur 23 (101, Downtown Reykjavik)
      For all your Apple needs. We are here.

      Aurora Reykjavik
      - northern lights center

        Aurora Reykjavik is a Northern Lights Center situated in downtown Reykjavík at the Old Harbor next to Icelandair Hotel Marina and Vikin Maritime Museum.

        Aurora Reykjavík is Iceland’s first educational and recreational Northern Lights Center where multimedia is used to explain when, why and how the Northern Lights work, with the highlights being large HD projection of the Aurora’s. We also share myths and legends about what our ancestor thought about those mystical lights.

        The Northern Lights Center is for all ages. Children are our favorite guests and we created the exhibition in a way that children can have a look freely and parents don’t have to worry about things being broken.

        Aurora Reykjavik offers a great selection of souvenirs that are designed and made by Icelanders along with nice little coffee corner, where you can enjoy free coffee and tea while browsing through the souvenirs or just planning your next step.

        Contact Aurora

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          Ísey skyr
          - once tasted never forgotten

          Our Story
          Once upon a time, 1,100 years ago in fact, Nordic settlers began arriving in Iceland. They brought with them the skills and knowledge for producing skyr. As time passed, the know-how and recipe for this nutritious food slowly faded out elsewhere in the Nordic region. Luckily, the Icelandic skyr-making tradition continued.

          For centuries, Icelandic skyr formed a cornerstone of the national diet, helping to keep people strong in living conditions that were often harsh. On family farms countrywide, it was the women who nurtured this dairy and passing on both the recipe and the original Icelandic skyr cultures from mother to daughter.

          Ísey skyr builds on this remarkable legacy. It was some of those very same women, the recipients of their mothers’ expertise, who, around 90 years ago, taught Icelandic dairy scientists the art of skyr-making. The production process is more high-tech these days, and the quality standards more rigorous. However, the basic recipe and the use of original cultures to ferment the skimmed milk remain the same. Protein rich, fat-free, creamy and delicious – Ísey skyr is as relevant to consumers now as it was all those centuries ago.
          This is our secret and you are in on it

          You can read more about Ísey skyr on our website.

          Núðluskálin
          - noodle bar

          Núðluskálin is a small gay owned and operated fusion noodle bar.

          All of our courses are individually made from fresh ingredients and therefore highly customisable.
          We offer fully Vegan versions of all courses.
          Though originally a take-away we now seat over 30 people.

          Núðluskálin is located right in the heart of Reykjavík on Skólavörðustígur 8 (street leading up to the big Church) near the junction with Laugavegur (main street).

          Seatours
          - adventure cruise

          Ferry Baldur – the gate to the West fjords
          and VikingSushi Adventure – Bird & Nature watching Tour for everyone all year around

          The “VikingSushi Adventure” is the right boat tour for travelers who are adventurous and want to experience something new – close up to the nature seafood simply doesn’t come fresher than this! The archipelago area of the Breidafjordur Bay always surprises her visitors during winter or summer with spectacular sights. Where else you get to try delicious fresh scallops and sea urchin roe straight from the ocean served with soy sauce, wasabi and ginger.

          600x400-seatours-tasting

          This old volcanic area, characterized by the typical basalt formations of the islands, is the home of countless birds. Here you will also find the strongest currents in Iceland. The VikingSushi Tour takes roughly two hours and our captain is also the tour guide.

          600x400-seatours

          The VikingSushi Tour is a true adventure through incredible nature which should not be missed by any traveler to West Iceland.

          Birds, possible to spot:
          -puffins (from the middle of April until the middle of August)
          -eider ducks
          -shags
          -kittiwakes
          -fulmars
          -white-tailed eagle

          The car ferry Baldur is the bridge to the West fjords via the island Flatey
          Ferry Baldur crosses Breidafjordur Bay daily from Stykkisholmur on the Snæfellsnes peninsula to Brjanslaekur in the north. A ferry ride considerably shortens the route between the south and mid-west of the country and the West Fjords region. It also gives you the opportunity to experience a floating restaurant.

          Take a stopover at the charming island Flatey when you are crossing the bay or go to a day tour to Flatey and back to Stykkishólmur. At Flatey are no cars allowed and between the houses of the 18th century you get the feeling of a journey back in time.

          Contact Us


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          Thank You. We will contact you as soon as possible.