The boy who lived is speaking up.
Daniel Radcliffe is vocalizing his opinion after ‘Harry Potter’ scribe J. K. Rowling made transphobic statements on Twitter. Rowling issued a handful of tweets in response to an article about ‘people who menstruate.’ She urged that ‘women’ should be the word used instead of ‘people’. This created an outrage of fans accusing her of ignoring transgender women.
J. K. Rowling retweeted an article titled “Opinion: Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate,” Rowling wrote. “‘People who menstruate.’ I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
After a whole lot of criticism, Rowling sent out a few more tweets in her own defense. Clue, a period tracking app tweeted saying, “Hi @jk_rowling, using non-gendered language is about moving beyond the idea that woman = uterus. Feminists were once mocked for wanting to change sexist language, but it’s now common to say firefighter instead of fireman.”
“What JK Rowling is saying is harmful and dangerous and the trans and non-binary witches and wizards deserve to feel welcomed and loved in the Harry Potter community dammit!!!!” actress Tessa Netting wrote.
Rowling defended herself by clarifying that she has spent the last three years reading books, blogs and scientific papers by trans people, medics and gender specialists. She claimed to know exactly what the distinction is. She also told her followers to never assume that because someone thinks differently. “They have no knowledge,” Rowling responded in a since-deleted tweet.
“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” Rowling continued. “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.”
Rowling said it’s “nonsense” to think about the idea of her not supporting trans women.
“The idea that women like me, who’ve been empathetic to trans people for decades, feeling kinship because they’re vulnerable in the same way as women – ie, to male violence – ‘hate’ trans people because they think sex is real and has lived consequences – is a nonsense.”
“I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them,” Rowling added in another tweet. “I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans. At the same time, my life has shaped by being female. I do not believe it’s hateful to say so.”
‘It’s clear that we need to do more’
Radcliffe, who doesn’t have a public presence on social media, wrote a heartfelt response to Rowling’s comments in a blog post for The Trevor Project, a non-profit devoted to suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth.
“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 (Rowling) or I.”
The LGBTQ advocacy organization also points out that “sex” is “the classification of a person as male, female, or intersex.”
This can only be determined at birth based on a person’s genitalia. “Gender,” on the other hand, “describes our internal understanding and experience of our own gender identity.”
A person’s assigned sex at birth does not always correspond with their gender identity.
Daniel Radcliffe clarified that this is not an ‘in-fighting” between him and J. K. Rowling.
He continued to explain 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth, reportedly, are subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. Radcliffe posted this in association with the Trevor Project and mentioned how honoured he feels to work with them. He explains how much we need to support transgender and non-binary people. Daniel notes that we must not invalidate their identities and cause any harm.
He then referred readers to The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth, noting that he is “still learning how to be a better ally.”
The 30-year-old actor then specifically addressed fans of the Wizarding World, or “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 wrote. “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;” Radcliffe said. “if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups;”
Further continuing he mentioned, “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.”
Radcliffe is not the only celebrity who voiced his opinions on Rowling’s tweet.
Katie Leung, who played Potter character Cho Chang, tweeted:
“So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes…(thread)” and then linked to a series of fundraisers for organizations that work to promote the safety of black trans people.
Jonathan Van Ness, of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” also replied to the author.
Rowling’s history of controversial posts
Rowling has 14.5 million followers on Twitter, and her “Harry Potter” franchise has been celebrated for its messages of acceptance. However, over the years fans have expressed their disappointment in the author for her social media posts. And that sometimes projects the opposite message.
In 2018, she came under fire for liking a tweet by a user that referenced “men in dresses.” A spokesperson for Rowling at the time told Newsweek the like “was a mistake.”
“I’m afraid J.K. Rowling had a clumsy and middle-aged moment and this is not the first time she has favourited by holding her phone incorrectly!” the rep told the publication.
In December, Rowling disappointed the Harry Potter community after she expressed support for Maya Forstater, a woman who lost an employment tribunal over comments she made on social media about transgender people.
The comments upset fans. “As a devoted Harry Potter fan who also happens to be transgender, it was like a punch in the gut,” author Jackson Bird wrote. “Through her books, Ms. Rowling helped teach a generation the power of not just tolerance, but fierce acceptance and unconditional love.”
GLAAD, a non-profit dedicated to LGBTQ+ issues, cited Bird’s op-ed when responding to Rowling’s tweet this weekend.
“JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans,” the organization wrote. “In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people.”
Rowling has not issued an apology for her recent controversy. Although in a follow-up to her tweet, she wrote in quotes words that people had called her as part of the backlash. The words including “witch” and “TERF,” which stands for trans-exclusionary radical feminist.
“Times change. Woman-hate is eternal,” she wrote.