Harry Potter stars respond to J.K. Rowling's comments about trans women

Sarah Carty
·Features & Style Editor
·6-min read

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe and Katie Leung have spoken out after author J.K. Rowling’s series of tweet posted to her Twitter account on Saturday afternoon, which have been called anti-trans.

Rowling received tremendous backlash for her comments, which were sparked over an op-ed piece that referred to “people who menstruate.”

Harry Potter author JK Rowling arrives at Edinburgh Castle where she will read passages from the sixth magical children’s title “Harry Potter And The Half-Blood Prince”, on July 15, 2005 in Edinburgh, Scotland. 70 junior reporters from around the world, aged between eight and 16, make up the audience, and meet and ask questions to the author ahead of the midnight release of the new volume. *** Local Caption *** JK Rowling
JK Rowling has been slammed for a series of Tweets. Photo: Getty Images

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

“I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn’t hate to speak the truth,” she continued, objecting to the idea that biological sex “isn’t real.”

“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” Rowling tweeted. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has been shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”

Now, Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has spoken out in a statement he released to The Trevor Project, an organisation that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.

Daniel Radcliffe takes part in AOL's BUILD series LONDON at AOL London on September 20, 2016 in London, England.
Daniel Radcliffe has released a statement about the Tweets. Photo: Getty Images

Daniel said while “Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken” he felt compelled to say something about her recent Tweets.

“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,” he started.

“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.

“I am still learning how to be a better ally, so if you want to join me in learning more about transgender and nonbinary identities check out The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth. It’s an introductory educational resource that covers a wide range of topics, including the differences between sex and gender, and shares best practices on how to support transgender and nonbinary people.”

He then went on to address anyone who feels their “experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished” by JK Rowling’s Tweets, saying he was “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.”

Katie Leung attends the INTO Film Awards at BFI Southbank on March 13, 2018 in London, England.
Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise, has also spoken out. Photo: Getty Images

Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter franchise, made her views on the matter clear by luring in fans by teasing some controversy of her own.

“So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang?” she tweeted, referring to her character, a witch who attended Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. “Okay, here goes ... (thread).”

Leung’s tweet led to a series of fundraisers, petitions and articles educating readers about the black transgender community — especially timely given the ongoing protests for racial equality and the death of Tony McDade, a black trans man shot by a police officer in Florida last month. At the end of her thread, Leung added the hashtag “#AsiansForBlackLives.”

Leung wasn’t the only celebrity to use a Twitter thread to educate followers. Irish actress Nicola Coughlin, who did not appear in the Harry Potter series, also joined in with a similar attention-grabbing tactic, tweeting, “I’ve always had a Harry Potter story I thought I would never tell publicly but I guess, now’s the time (thread).”

Several other big names directly spoke out to condemn Rowling’s statements.

“Word. Goodnight and shut up @jk_rowling,” tweeted actress Sarah Paulson.

Actress Jameela Jamil, known for her role on The Good Place, also condemned Rowling’s posts, and encouraged people to donate to a fundraiser for homeless black trans women. Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness also voiced his outrage,

The Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) released a statement on Saturday on their Twitter page.

“JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans,” they continued. “In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people. We stand with trans youth, especially those Harry Potter fans hurt by her inaccurate and cruel tweets.”

With extra reporting by Megan Johnson

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