With Harry Potter author JK Rowling penning a lengthy essay explaining the reasons for her repeated transphobic sentiments, Hollywood celebrities–including some key figures from the Harry Potter film series–have come out against the author.
Rowling published her essay June 10, in which she came out as a survivor of sexual assault and domestic violence, and in which she decried what she sees as an explosion of women transitioning to male, only to “untransition” later. The author embraced her labeling as a TERF–a transgender excluding radical feminist–and claims that most teens who experience gender dysphoria will grow out of it. Rowling makes it clear that she sees the rise of transgender rights as a threat to women orchestrated by men.
The argument didn’t land, at least not with several Potter alumni. The Harry Potter of the big screen, actor Daniel Radcliffe, released a statement defending the transgender community, and pushing back against Rowling’s essay.
“It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm,” Radcliffe wrote on The Trevor Project blog. “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.”
Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are.
— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) June 10, 2020
Potter star Emma Watson, who played Hermoine Granger in the film series, also chimed in. “Trans people are who they say they are and deserve to live their lives without being constantly questioned or told they aren’t who they say they are,” Watson tweeted. “I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”
Actor Eddie Redmayne, who plays the lead in the Potter spinoff series Fantastic Beasts, also shared his thoughts. In the past, Redmayne has also been attacked by the transgender community for taking a role as a transgender woman in The Danish Girl. “As someone who has worked with both JK Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand,” he told Variety. “I disagree with Jo’s comments. Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid. I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”
Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley in the series, also voiced her support for trans people. “If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgment or question. Transwomen are Women. I see and love you,” she tweeted.
Here are my thoughts. Sending love to all. ?????????? pic.twitter.com/P30YHfnzBN
— Evanna Lynch (@Evy_Lynch) June 9, 2020
“I imagine being trans and learning to accept and love yourself is challenging enough, and we as a society should not be adding to that pain,” actress Evanna Lynch wrote in a blog post. “The Harry Potter world/fandom/community is literally made up of millions of people and I for one will work to make it feel inclusive because trans women are women.”
Meanwhile, Warner Bros., the studio that produces the Potter and Fantastic Beasts films, issued a statement pledging itself to diversity and rejecting Rowling’s sentiments. “Warner Bros’ position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world. We deeply value the work of our storytellers who give so much of themselves in sharing their creations with us all,” the studio said in a statement to Variety. “We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content.”
At present, Warner Bros. has at least three more Fantastic Beasts films in the works, continuing to flesh out the Potter cinematic universe. It’s unclear at this time how Rowling’s comments might affect the future of the franchise.