JK Rowling has announced the opening of a new "women-only" support service for female victims of sexual violence in Edinburgh.

Launched to follow the 16 Days Campaign for the elimination of violence against women, Beira’s Place will be a support and advocacy service for women in the Lothians aged 16 and over who have experienced sexual violence or abuse at any time in their lives.

The organisers say the service is in response to demand from female survivors for a “women-only” space.

Rowling told fellow gender-critical campaigner Suzanne Moore that Beira’s Place, named after the Scottish goddess of winter, follows controversy around another Edinburgh centre for survivors which is run by a transgender woman.

READ MORE: Scottish feminists hit back at UN gender recognition warning

Last year, chief executive of Edinburgh Rape Crisis Centre Mridul Wadhwa was asked on a podcast about her experience running the space as a trans person, and calls for only those assigned female at birth to be allowed into such centres.

"If [survivors] bring unacceptable beliefs that are discriminatory in nature, we will begin to work with you on your journey of recovery from trauma," she said. "But please also expect to be challenged on your prejudices.”

Wadhwa also said that rape survivors should “reframe” their trauma and added: “You also have to rethink your relationship with prejudice.”

Rowling said the claim that trauma should be reframed got to her.

She said: “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.”

Wadhwa said the crisis centre was forced to lock its doors in 2021 following constant abuse directed at her and her staff.

The crisis centre later opened back up after a consultation with security experts but with added security measures to protect its workers.

In October, Wadhwa told openDemocracy that she is still victim to frequent smears that she is a sexual predator and continues to suffer threats of violence.

She said she still fears for her safety.

“It's only recently that I've really stopped looking over my shoulder or not thinking actively that I could be harmed,” she said.

“But that doesn't mean that I don't think I will be harmed. Even now, I do believe that I will be harmed. I believe it is almost inevitable.”

The announcement of Beira's Place comes just a week before MSPs are set to vote on the final stage of the Gender Recognition Reform Bill, which aims to make it easier for transgender people to legally change their gender.

The board of Beira's Place is made of up women critical of the bill.

Alongside Rowling - an outspoken critic of GRR who has donned a T-shirt calling Nicola Sturgeon a "destroyer of women's rights - former prison governor Rhona Hotchkiss, previous Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, GP Margaret McCartney and director of For Women Scotland Susan Smith.

The National: JK Rowling

Rowling is vocal in her gender-critical views which have led to accusations of transphobia from some equality groups.

Her position on the trans community has been branded “cruel” and “inaccurate” by the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).

The author, who is fully funding Beira’s Place, said the centre will deliver an "unmet need" for women in the Lothians area.

“As a survivor of sexual assault myself, I know how important it is that survivors have the option of women-centred and women-delivered care at such a vulnerable time," she said.

“Beira’s Place will offer an increase in capacity for services in the area and will, I hope, enable more women to process and recover from their trauma.”

The National: The board of directors of Beira’s Place. From left: Susan Smith, J K Rowling, Johann Lamont, Margaret McCartney, Rhona Hotchkiss.The board of directors of Beira’s Place. From left: Susan Smith, J K Rowling, Johann Lamont, Margaret McCartney, Rhona Hotchkiss. (Image: Nicole Jones)

Isabelle Kerr MBE, CEO of Beira’s Place, said: “Violence against women and girls is an issue that crosses all cultures, classes, and religions.

"These are gendered crimes that are overwhelmingly perpetrated by men and disproportionately experienced by women.

"Beira’s Place recognises that effective sexual violence services must be independent, needs-led, and provide responsive, women-centred services so that they are free from the pressure of current political agendas.

READ MORE: JK Rowling slates Scottish Labour for support of GRA reform

"We are committed to ensuring that our service is free, confidential, and accessible to women survivors who may need it.”

The service will be run by a paid staff of experienced support workers, headed up by CEO Kerr and Deputy CEO Susan Domminney.

Based in the heart of Edinburgh, the centre will open for confidential off-site assessments and appointments in the New Year.