Credit: Wild Youth (Instagram) and BBC (R)

“I stand with Ian Banham”: JK Rowling wades into Irish Eurovision trans row 

Author JK Rowling has waded into the ongoing Eurovision trans row, declaring her support for Ireland’s creative director Ian Banham. Her input comes as social media users continue to react divisively to Ireland’s Eurovision entry, Wild Youth, deciding to cut ties with creative director Banham over comments he made about transgenderism.

The row, which erupted on Tuesday, was based on furore over screenshots from Banham’s Twitter account in which he said transgender women are men.

Banham, who also worked with RTE on Dancing with the Stars Ireland in its latest series, sent a Tweet in March after the BBC referred to male-born criminal Zara Jade – who was recently sentenced for multiple domestic violence crimes as a “woman”.

In the tweet, Banham wrote, “Exactly! It’s a man. This clown world is ridiculous” in response to the story.

The criminal, who goes by the name ‘Zara Jade’ was jailed at the end of March after stabbing a woman, tying her to a chair and demanding cash. Jade (54) attacked the victim in Halifax in England, leaving her tied up while he went to an ATM.

Jade admitted offences of wounding with intent to do grievous bodily harm, robbery, fraud and false imprisonment at Bradford Crown Court, the BBC reported. The case heard how Jade used tights to tie the female victim into an electrically-powered chair, set in recline position, while the bank card was used to withdraw £300.

The Ministry of Justice later confirmed to the British press that Jade was not sent to a women’s prison. While the spokesperson did not reveal which jail Jade was in, media reported that Jade was serving the sentence in a ‘male prison’.

In 1988 Jade was locked up for five years for rape and other sexual offences and in 2013, was jailed again for another sexual matter.

After it emerged that Banham had called Zara Jade “a man” on social media, Ireland’s Eurovision entry, band Wild Youth said they had cut ties with Banham. In a statement posted on Tuesday, the band – who were chosen to represent Ireland in February and are known for touring with Lewis Capaldi and Niall Horan – said they stand for “unity and kindness,” adding that they will no longer let the experienced creative director “near our team”

Mr Banham’s representatives have yet to respond to a request for comment from Gript.

With just two weeks until the start of the song contest, the band’s frontman Conor O’Donohoe said he “felt sick” reading Banham’s tweets and apologised to those offended by the remarks.

“Wild Youth is a band that stands for unity and kindness. Our song represents our beliefs as a band. We have cut all ties with Ian Banham and will not have him on or near our team or Eurovison journey. We are so sorry for anyone offended by his comments,” the band said.

While Wild Youth profusely apologised, opponents of Banham blasted RTE for their involvement with the music professional.

RTÉ 2fm broadcaster Louise McSharry was among those to hit out at RTÉ for its involvement with Banham, tweeting:

“A little confused as to how someone who’s been openly tweeting obviously offensive stuff as recently as this month played a massive role in DWTS and was given the responsibility of being at the helm of our Eurovision entry in the first place.”

Wild Youth also picked up on the backlash RTÉ received online, claiming that the public broadcaster and its director were “horrified”, tweeting: “And just to note we were with @michaelkealy1 and both himself and @rte were as horrified as we were.”

The band received support from many users who said they were “proud” of them for speaking out and standing up for “trans rights”.

A large number of others, however, accused those attacking Banham of “virtue signalling” for “rapist” Jade.

JK Rowling has been among the most high-profile defenders of Banham, telling her 14 million followers that she supported him, as she accused Wild Youth of “preening, self-satisfied misogyny”.

“The re-traumatisation of female rape survivors, including this man’s victims, on seeing him called a woman by the press counts for nothing, naturally. The so-called kindness and inclusivity of @bandwildyouth is preening, self-satisfied misogyny. #IStandWithIanBanham,” she wrote earlier today in a tweet that received a huge response.

Rowling also reminded divided internet users of the content of Banham’s original tweets, sharing an example:

Irish users, meanwhile, attacked Wild Youth and Banham in their numbers under the band’s tweet.

“You were all horrified by biological and material reality?! Is this true @michaelkealy1 @RTEOne? Is the national broadcaster ‘horrified’ by the fact that a man is not and cannot ever be a woman? If it is true, why does @RTEOne receive ANY public funding @LeoVaradkar?” one user wrote.

He called a rapist a man. He said facts,” said another.

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