Trainspotting’s Irvine Welsh weighs in on trans debate and JK Rowling

Trainspotting author Irvine Welsh has shared his thoughts on trans rights, JK Rowling and Covid lockdowns in a new interview.

Speaking to The Times, Welsh, 65, also spoke about his distaste for party politics and criticised the SNP for its apparent involvement in “social engineering”, referring to actions such as enforcing hate speech laws and its support of gender recognition reform.

Harry Potter author Rowling has been a vocal opponent of the hate speech bill and has been widely criticised for her comments about trans people.

The interview notes that Welsh “says he doesn’t know Rowling well, but loathes how she’s been vilified”, before offering a brief insight into his views on the ongoing debate about rights for trans people.

“Only women and trans people can have that discussion, but what I would say is that I don’t believe trans rights should be advanced at the expense of 50 per cent of the population,” Welsh stated.

His 2022 crime novel, The Long Knives, featured trans characters and had a sensitivity reader ahead of publishing – something that Welsh initially pushed back against, but ultimately saw the value in.

He said: “I was like, ‘Get out! This is censorship.’ But actually it was a really positive experience because the whole trans thing is such a moving picture. So [the reader] gives you the information to make sure it’s authentic.”

Irvine Welsh and JK Rowling (Getty)
Irvine Welsh and JK Rowling (Getty)

Elsewhere in the interview, published on Monday (24 June), the author also expressed scepticism towards Covid vaccines and the lockdown restrictions that temporarily closed down businesses and social spaces in 2020 and 2021.

Welsh claimed that the lockdowns meant that “everybody should put their health at risk to defend the lifestyle choices of the morbidly obese”.

Asked whether he believed this was because overweight people were more likely to die from Covid, Welsh replied: “Yes. I think the emphasis should have been on getting them to lose weight, and the first thing they did was shut the gyms. Crazy.”

This is not the first time the author has commented on Covid. In a 2020 interview with The Independent, Welsh shared his concerns with the government’s actions, comparing the pandemic’s societal impact to the September 11 attacks.

“When you critique capitalism, you think it’s about money and greed but it’s about power, as you see with Covid,” he noted.

“There’s an urge to control people and use the power of the state in any way they can. It’s hard not to think of [Covid] as an internal 9/11. What 9/11 was for foreign terrorism this is domestically, it’s an attempt to control our population.

“I hate talking like this because you sound like those f***ing libertarians or right-wing conspiracy theorist nut-jobs, but there is something very malevolent about the controlling apparatus of the state.”