Beira’s Place – J. K. Rowling’s Latest Project

On Monday 12th December J. K. Rowling announced the launch of a new project : Beira’s Place, which provides support, advocacy and information for women survivors of sexual violence aged 16 and over in Edinburgh and the Lothians. The launch occurred precisely at 09:00 GMT with a simultaneous tweet from the new twitter account @beirasplace and a re-tweet from Rowling.

In addition to Rowling’s personal charity Volante, Lumos, and the Anne Rowling Regenerative Neurology Clinic, we have her latest project: Beira’s Place. Find out more after the jump:

The website for Beira’s Place took a little time to catch up displaying a “coming soon” message until 09:15. Meanwhile at 09:02 the journalist Suzanne Moore published a tweet to an exclusive interview she had with Rowling about the project, and giving us the first details of what this was all about. If this had been a book announcement the secret (and surprise) would have been complete, with no evidence of anyone either breaking the embargo early, or leaking details before the announcement.

This will not be the only centre catering to women who have survived sexual violence in Edinburgh. Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre  (ERCC) caters to women, all members of the trans community, non-binary people, and young people (aged 12-18). The CEO of ERCC Mridul Wadhwa caused controversy when she resigned from the Scottish National Party after they voted in favour of a law that would let rape survivors choose the biological sex, rather than gender of the person examining them. Later in an interview with The Guilty Feminist podcast Wadhwa referred to women who may be uncomfortable in the presence of trans women, when being counselled or in therapy, as “bigots” who may need to “reframe their trauma”.

She recounts later hearing the phrase about women needing to “reframe their trauma”. It really got to her,  Why, she harangued her husband, when you are extremely traumatised and go somewhere for support, should your beliefs come into it?  

“I was climbing the walls. It’s not a political thing to me; this is personal. And then, after two days, I had the lightbulb moment and I thought, ‘I don’t have to pace around my kitchen ranting. I can actually do something about this.’ And that’s how it started. So here I am.”  

Suzanne Moore – An Exclusive Interview with JK Rowling about her New Project

And “do something about this”, she has. Beira’s Place has been set up, funded and run solely by women for women. Barely three months after the Guilty Feminist Podcast was released, Rowling set up “WFRS Edinburgh Limited” in November 2021, the company which operates Beira’s Place. Premises were purchased, so that there is no landlord for activists to pressure. It is not a charity, so there can be no legal challenge to the Charity Commission to stop it operating. This last has become an issue since the charity Mermaids which provides support for transgender youth sued the Charity Commission over it’s decision to grant charity status to The LGB Alliance which provides advocacy for Lesbian, Gay and Bi-sexual people, over it’s decision not to advocate for transgender people. This has resulted in both charities being swamped in months of litigation and vast expense. As Beira’s Place is not a charity they cannot seek donations and all expenses will have to be covered by Rowling herself. A commitment that very few would be able to cover, and still fewer would choose to.

And here we are. In Beira’s Place, a service for women run by women.   

Beira (pronounced By-ra) is the Scottish goddess of winter. She rules over the dark side of the year, handing over to her sister Bride when summer comes again. Beira represents female wisdom, power and regeneration. Hers is a strength that endures during the difficult times, but her myth contains the promise that they will not last forever. 

Suzanne Moore – An Exclusive Interview with JK Rowling about her New Project


  1. David Llewellyn Dodds says

    Thanks for this! What depths, breadths, and complexities of folkloristic, political, neo-pagan ‘matter’ the name ‘Beira’ seems to involve! “She rules over the dark side of the year, handing over to her sister Bride when summer comes again.” There’s some interesting ‘re-mythologizing’ or whatever in terms of the (earlier?) ‘Beiraology’ one glimpses in – and via – the Wikipedia “Cailleach” article (as of ” 9 December 2022, at 19:54 (UTC)” – the last item on the Talk page as of “13 December 2022, at 04:25 (UTC)” is a reference to “Beira’s Place, Edinburgh”: a “Beira (mythology)” article got ‘merged’ into the “Cailleach” one, according to a note of “12 March 2021 (UTC)”).

    For, if here “She rules over the dark side of the year, handing over to her sister Bride when summer comes again.” There, if one follows some of the sources linked, one finds, for example, “In the days when the people had no calendar, the various periods of good and bad weather were named after the battles of Beira and the victories of the spirits of sunshine and growth” in Donald Alexander Mackenzie’s Wonder Tales from Scottish Myth and Legend (1917) (p. 10) as scanned in the Internet Archive (and see his first chapter, “Beria, Queen of Winter”, there). And Alexander Haggerty Krappe’s 1936 article, “La Cailleach Bheara. Notes de mythologie Gaélique” summarizes that she was a goddess of fertility, but also of death (p. 302) (following the link provided to its scan). No doubt, ‘to be continued’!

  2. I truly believe that women deserve separate spaces. At the same time, I enjoy challenging my own beliefs by listening to opinions on both sides of this debate. Medical advances have made it so that in some cases it is not very easy to determine the sex of an individual based on appearance only. Critics of the shelter have pointed out that there are many trans women who outwardly “pass” as women. How does the shelter plan to ascertain a individual’s sex in the event it isn’t obvious while maintaining the comfort and sense of safety of those seeking support? How will it defend itself from potential “gotcha” events? I ask this with curiosity as my goal is in no way to criticize the shelter’s efforts.

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