On Monday, actor Daniel Radcliffe responded to Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling’s controversial comments on transgender people, writing that he hopes her remarks will not “taint” what the series meant for fans and said he believes that “transgender women are women.”
Rowling was accused of transphobia on Saturday after mocking a news headline, “Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.”
“‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?” Rowling wrote. She doubled down on her comments later that day in a separate Twitter thread, writing: “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.”
Many people online — including prominent LGBTQ+ artists, activists and organizations — criticized her comments as transphobic, pointing out that they excluded transgender men who menstruate and transgender women who don’t, as well as cis-gender women who no longer menstruate. Some said her comments were especially hurtful because the inclusive message of Harry Potter had helped them through difficult times in their lives.
In a statement posted to the LGBTQ suicide prevention nonprofit The Trevor Project on Monday, Radcliffe, who portrayed Harry Potter in the movie adaptation of series, responded to Rowling’s comments and made clear that he disagrees with her view of sex and gender.
“Transgender women are women,” he wrote. “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 added that while “certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in fighting between J.K. Rowling” and himself, he said 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,” he said.
Radcliffe explained that, according to the Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth report having been discriminated against because of 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,” he said. He recommended readers consult The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth as a starting point.
“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,” he continued. “If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe… 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.”
“It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much,” he said.
Katie Leung, who portrayed the character Cho Chang in the Harry Potter film series, also posted on Twitter in support of trans people, asking people to donate to multiple organizations that help black trans people.
Saturday wasn’t the first time Rowling has been accused of transphobia. In December, the author tweeted her solidarity with Maya Forsater, a British woman whose contract at a think tank was not renewed after she tweeted her disagreement with the British government’s plan to allow people to declare their own gender. Forsater has publicly said she believes it is impossible for people to change their sex. “[Sex] is a biological fact & is immutable. There are two sexes. Men are male. Women are female,” Forsater tweeted at the time.
The following day, Rowling tweeted, “Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like. Sleep with any consenting adult who’ll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya #ThisIsNotADrill.”
“[Rowling] has aligned herself with an anti-science ideology that denies the basic humanity of people who are transgender,” the LGBTQ rights organization GLAAD responded at the time. “Trans and non-binary people are not a threat to women, and to imply otherwise puts trans people at risk.”