This week will go down in Harry Potter fan history as the week when the series stars united against the wizarding world’s creator JK Rowling over trans rights.
Rupert Grint who played Ron Weasley in the Harry Potter films, has become the latest star from the film franchise to speak out.
Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Eddie Redmayne and others have all stood up as trans allies since Rowling’s comments.
Grint said: ‘I firmly stand with the trans community and echo the sentiments expressed by many of my peers.
‘Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgement.’
JK Rowling’s attack on trans identity
Rowling sparked the row over the weekend with a series of tweets attacking trans rights. Her remarks sparked an instant social media backlash.
She tweeted: ‘“People who menstruate.” I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’
And she added: ‘If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. 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.’
Then on Wednesday she expanded her attack in an essay published on her site.
It’s not the first time Rowling has attracted controversy over trans issues. In December 2019 she defended tax expert Maya Forstater for her anti-trans views.
Radcliffe: ‘Deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused’
Daniel Radcliffe who played Harry Potter was the first major star to respond.
In a detailed message, he thanked Rowling for ‘the course my life has taken’. But he felt compelled to respond as an LGBT+ ally and ‘human being’.
‘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.’
Moreover, he recognized the pain Rowling’s comments have caused some fans. Radcliffe added:
‘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.
Watson: ‘Trans people are who they say they are’
Other leading stars also shared their support for the transgender community.
Emma Watson, who played Hermione Granger, said:
‘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.
‘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.’
And Eddie Redmayne, who plays Newt Scamander in the Harry Potter prequel series, Fantastic Beasts, told Variety:
‘Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself.
‘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.’
Twitter is not the right place for this complex conversation
One of the most detailed responses to Rowling came from Evanna Lynch. She is a dedicated Potter fan who plays Luna Lovegood and is particularly close to Rowling.
She said: ‘I imagine that being trans and learning to accept and love yourself is challenging enough, and we as a society should not be adding to that pain.
‘Feeling like you don’t fit in or aren’t accepted for who you are are the worst, most lonely feelings a human can experience and I won’t be helping to marginalise trans women and men further.
‘I applaud the immense bravery they show in embracing themselves and think we all should listen to their stories, especially as it is Pride Month.
‘Personally, I don’t think Twitter is the right place to have this very complex conversation. We should be reading articles and memoirs, listening to podcasts and having long-form conversations.
‘I think it’s irresponsible to discuss such a delicate topic over Twitter through fragmented thoughts and I wish Jo wouldn’t.’
However Lynch also showed some compassion for Rowling – despite disagreeing with her.
She added: ‘I disagree with her opinion that cis women are the most vulnerable minority in this situation and I think she’s on the wrong side of this debate. But that doesn’t mean she has completely lost her humanity.’
‘We are proud of you’
Meanwhile Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley, also shared Radcliffe’s view that Rowling’s comments shouldn’t undermine the good the books and films have done. She said:
‘If Harry Potter was a source of love and belonging for you, that love is infinite and there to take without judgment or question.
‘Trans women are women. I see and love you, Bonnie x.’
Likewise, Chris Rankin who played Percy Weasley in the films, also spoke out. He is the founder of the House of ChrisNess, an online community for LGBT+ youth.
He said: ‘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. Please know that. Be proud of who you are. We are proud of you.’
Black, Asian and LGBT+ unity
The argument also took on a Black Lives Matter dimension. It sparked a row over Rowling’s inclusion of racial diversity in her wizarding world.
In particular, social media users criticized her for having her only major Asian character stereotypically called ‘Cho Chang’.
And Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the films, found an elegant way to respond,
She tweeted: ‘So you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes.’
And then she went on to simply share links to places where people can support LGBT+ black people.
She shared a fundraising page for homeless black trans women. And she added a petition calling on the UK to protect black trans women.
Moreover, she also shared the homepage of UK Black Pride and a list of organizations supporting black trans people.
The Scottish actress concluded her Twitter thread with ‘#AsiansForBlackLives’.