Emma Watson and Eddie Redmayne are among a growing number of actors from the Harry Potter movie franchise to speak out in support of the transgender community, following author J.K. Rowling’s controversial essay and comments targeting transgender people and gender identity.
“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,” tweeted Watson, who starred as Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter film franchise, on Wednesday night.
In a statement to Variety the same day, actor Eddie Redmayne said “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.” Redmayne stars in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, a spin-off from the main Harry Potter series also created by Rowling.
On June 6, Rowling tweeted criticism of an article that had the inclusive phrase “people who menstruate” in the headline. In a series of tweets, the author suggested that discussion of diverse gender identities erased the concept of biological sex, a viewpoint widely deemed as transphobic. “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” she wrote. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.”
On Wednesday, Rowling doubled down on her comments in a nearly 3,700 word-long essay on her website and posted to Twitter, with replies disabled, titled “TERF Wars.” TERF is an abbreviation of “Trans-Exclusionary Radical Feminist.” While some, like Rowling, consider it a slur, although many others see it as an accurate description of their beliefs. While Rowling disabled replies on her tweet and comments on the essay itself, many have identified what they see as flaws in the arguments she is presenting. It is not the first time that the author has commented on transgender people and gender identity.
Rowling’s latest comments led to backlash, and on June 8, Daniel Radcliffe issued an open letter via LGBTQ non-profit The Trevor Project in support of transgender people. “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,” Radcliffe wrote.
Radcliffe also apologized to fans of the Harry Potter series. “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.”
Other cast members have also voiced their support for the transgender community in light of Rowling’s comments, including Bonnie Wright, who played Ginny Weasley, Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang, and Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood.