Standing in solidarity

Daniel Radcliffe criticizes J.K. Rowling’s tweets on sex and gender

Daniel Radcliffe
Daniel Radcliffe (Photo: Gage Skidmore, via CC BY-SA 2.0)

Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has issued a statement saying, “Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people.” It comes in response to tweets from Potter author J.K. Rowling regarding sex and gender.

Rowling posted a tweet Saturday appearing to criticize an opinion piece that referred to “people who menstruate” (a reference that takes into consideration the fact some trans men and non-binary people menstruate).

“‘People who menstruate’,” queried Rowling. “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

She followed this up with several tweets responding to claims that she did not understand the difference between sex and gender.

“I’ve spent much of the last three years reading books, blogs and scientific papers by trans people, medics and gender specialists,” said one of her tweets. “I know exactly what the distinction is. Never assume that because someone thinks differently, they have no knowledge.”

Related: J.K. Rowling unleashes string of anti-trans tweets

Rowling went on to say that a lesbian friend had contacted her to applaud her stance, before posting a thread on how she views some trans activists as wishing to erase, “the concept of sex.”

Her tweets have prompted a huge response. Many expressed disappointment and labeled her transphobic. It is not the first time Rowling has been criticized for her tweets on gender and trans issues.

Now, Harry Potter star Radcliffe has issued a lengthy statement. Posted on the website of The Trevor Project, the US-based nonprofit that provides support to LGBTQ youth (of whom Radcliffe is a celebrity ambassador), he said: “I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in-fighting between J.K. Rowling and myself, but that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now.

“While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment,” said Radcliffe.

“Transgender women are women. Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations who have far more expertise on this subject matter than either Jo or I.

“According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”

Related: J.K. Rowling strikes back at fans who are angry Dumbledore won’t be “explicitly” gay in new film

He goes on to recommend the Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth for those wishing to learn more.

He went on to speak directly to fans of the Harry Potter stories.

“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you.

“If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; if you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life — then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred. And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.”

Rowling has not issued any response to Radcliffe’s statement.