J.K. Rowling is at it again. The author of the beloved Harry Potter book series is using her platform as a famous, very rich, white, cis-woman to attack trans women, a marginalized group often target with bigotry and violence. Rowling’s descent into TERFdom began with her liking tweets by notorious trans-exclusionary radical feminists, then tweeting vaguely transphobic statements that hid under the guise of feminism while supporting transphobes. Finally, she went full Death Eater creating vile transphobic propaganda and delivering a blogged manifesto of bigotry.
Rowling’s transformation from adored author to bigot spigot might not come as a surprise to those who’ve been clocking her dog whistles. However, this all is still incredibly harrowing to trans people, who are being targeted by a woman with legions of fans, and to Harry Potter fans who feel betrayed by Rowling’s prejudiced pronouncements. Generations of kids of every gender have been growing up feeling comforted by her tale of misfits and magic. For them, the story of a scarred orphan who lived under the stairs and rose to glory was an inspiration. Harry wasn’t just a hero, he was embraced by a community of amazing people who loved him for exactly who he was. From that, a fandom was born that reflected this inclusive community vibe. Sure, Potter fans might get into battles over House designations and canon queries, but they nonetheless found a lot of love in their shared passion for this magical world of witchcraft and wizardry.
Among this community are the stars of the Harry Potter films, several of whom have spoken out to slap down Rowling’s repulsive transphobia.
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 [Rowling] 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.
To Potter fans, he said,
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.
Radcliffe’s co-star Emma Watson first showed her support for trans rights in 2018, when she posted this pic on her Instagram:
In it, she wears a t-shirt that reads: “Trans rights are human rights,” while promoting the charity Mermaids, Gendered Intelligence, and Stonewall UK, UK groups that work to protect LGBTQ children and adults.
Yesterday, Watson spoke out once more in support of trans people’s rights. While the former Hermione did not mention Rowling, her tweets suggest she’s seen the author’s posts.
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.— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) June 10, 2020
She also offered a donation Mermaids and Mama Cash, a feminist activist group that is trans-inclusive.
Happy #PRIDE2020 Sending love x— Emma Watson (@EmmaWatson) June 10, 2020
Katie Leung also took to Twitter to share her thoughts. The actress who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter movies employed a bait-and-switch meme in the best way. First, she tapped into Potter fans curiosity about her thoughts on playing the problematic character.
So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes…(thread)— Katie Leung (@Kt_Leung) June 7, 2020
Then those who clicked the tweet to reveal the supposedly gossipy goods received instead a thread of links to charities and petitions relating to trans rights and Black Lives Matter.
Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley, also shared a message of love for fans and trans women.
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, Bonnie x— Bonnie Wright (@thisisbwright) June 10, 2020
Chris Rankin (A.K.A. Percy Weasley) shared a string of tweets in support of trans people and the whole LGBTQ+ community.
My beautiful, brave, strong, trans friends and house of #ChrisNess family. We love you. I can’t say it enough. You’re wonderful, and deserve to be treated as such.— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin) June 6, 2020
Please know that.
Be proud of who you are. We are proud of you ❤️
Dan, you eternal sweetheart. https://t.co/ggzEUkZUVS— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin) June 9, 2020
I’ve seen a lot of followers arriving here in the last few days with rainbow and trans colours in their profile pictures. You are all SO welcome! @nesstaann and I operate a safe space for all our LGBTQIA+ friends and chosen family. The House of #ChrisNess loves you ❤️— Chris Rankin (@chrisrankin) June 10, 2020
He also retweeted the following:
If you’re a Harry Potter fan who wants to learn how to advocate for trans people, take a look at our Protego guide! https://t.co/Hf90Kuph2W— The Harry Potter Alliance (@TheHPAlliance) June 7, 2020
Evanna Lynch, who portrayed Luna Lovegood, shared a note in which she suggested Rowling was being treated too harshly for her transphobic statements, but also stated, “I’m so sorry to any trans people who feel [a sense of acceptance] been taken away or that this community is no longer that safe place. But the Harry Potter world/fandom/community is literally made up of millions of people now and I for one will work to make it feel inclusive because trans women are women.”
Here are my thoughts. Sending love to all. ❤️💜💗🧡💛💚🤎🖤🤍 pic.twitter.com/P30YHfnzBN— Evanna Lynch (@Evy_Lynch) June 9, 2020
Meanwhile, screenshots of Tom Felton’s likes are circulating, suggesting the Draco Malfoy actor approved of one of Rowling’s transphobic tweets. Felton has not responded, and his Twitter account does not currently have the tweet liked.
While Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Katie Leung and Bonnie Wright have spoken up for trans rights…Tom Felton is out here liking JK Rowling’s tweets pic.twitter.com/YcLvJVY2oB— bhasy (@notallbhas) June 10, 2020
Skipping over to the Harry Potter spinoff, Fantastical Beasts and Where To Find Them star Eddie Redmayne issued a statement to Variety, in which he spoke about trans rights without once mentioning his problematic casting in the biopic The Danish Girl:
Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process. As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand. 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.”
Finally, Warner Bros., which owns the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, felt compelled to release a statement.
“The events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues. 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. 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.”
In theory, this is about Rowling’s remarks despite the fact the above statement does not mention her, Harry Potter, trans people, or anything much in the way of specifics at all. It’s a nothing burger with a side of word salad, promising nothing in particular while inviting props all the same. After all, WB doesn’t want to risk upsetting a single potential ticket buyer for 2021’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them 3, starring Johnny Depp and Ezra Miller.
Did we miss a response from Potter Universe star? Share it in comments.
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