Harry Potter cast speak up after J.K. Rowling's tweets about transgender community

Harry Potter stars Emma Watson, Daniel Radcliffe, and Rupert Grint were among those online who responded to Rowling's comments.

Jane Zhang | June 13, 2020, 04:50 PM

Some members of the Harry Potter cast have come together once again, but not for an on-screen heartwarming cast reunion.

Instead, many have "reunited" online to respond to tweets by J.K. Rowling, who made headlines once more for her statements about transgender individuals.

Rowling called out article about "people who menstruate"

On Jun. 7, Rowling responded to an article that referred to "people who menstruate", writing on Twitter:

"I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

Her response implied that she felt the article should have referred to the group of individuals as "women".

The reason for the backlash was that Rowling's tweet mocking the use of the term "people who menstruate", and pushing for using "women" instead, seemed to exclude groups of people who may menstruate but do not identify as women.

There are also women who do not menstruate, such as trans women.

As stated in an explainer published by CNN:

"The people she excluded in her initial tweet were trans men, non-binary and gender-fluid people, by emphasizing the idea that it's only cisgender women who menstruate. It also left out trans women by implying that if they cannot menstruate, they are not women.

Trans women are people who were assigned male at birth but identify as women. Trans men are people who were assigned female at birth but identify as men."

Public backlash

Rowling's tweet was met with backlash from other Twitter users, who called her out for transphobia.

Even period tracking app Clue chimed in:

Rowling responds

Rowling responded to the criticism in a number of tweets defending her position and addressing her critics.

She further explained her reasoning, writing that "it isn't hate to speak the truth":

Harry Potter cast responds

In response to Rowling's latest comments about gender and sex, Harry Potter cast members have chimed in.

Emma Watson (who played Hermoine Granger) and Bonnie Wright (who played Ginny Weasley) both shared their support of the transgender community on Twitter in the days following Rowling's tweets.

Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, wrote a blog post on the topic for The Trevor Project, an American NGO that provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth.

In the post, Radcliffe stated that his reply was not about in-fighting with Rowling, and while he recognised that she was "unquestionably responsible" for his life course, he needed to say something:

"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 [Rowling] or I."

He also had a message to Harry Potter fans who may feel that their perception of the series has changed:

"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.

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."

Rupert Grint, Katie Leung, and Eddie Redmayne

Ron Weasley actor Rupert Grint also made a statement on the matter to The Times, saying:

"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 judgment"

Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang, also added her voice to the conversation by drawing Twitter users in with a tweet that seemed to promise a Twitter thread with her hot take on her character.

Instead, she linked readers to petitions, fundraisers, articles, and websites about black trans people.

Eddie Redmayne, the star of the Fantastic Beasts franchise, also by Rowling, has also made his opinion on the matter known.

In a statement to Variety, Redmayne said, "Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process."

He stated that, as someone who has worked both with Rowling and the trans community, he wanted to be "absolutely clear" about his opinion:

"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."

Previously accused of transphobia

This is not the first time that Rowling has been criticised for her statements about transgender individuals.

She has also been accused of transphobia in the past, after she "liked" a tweet in 2018 that called trans women "men in dresses".

In December 2019, Rowling faced backlash after stating her support of Maya Forstater, a woman was fired after over comments she made on Twitter criticising UK government plans to allow people to self-identify their gender.

On Jun. 10, Rowling published a 3,696 word post on her website about why she is speaking up about the issues of sex and gender.

In the post, she stated that she is "worried" about the "new trans activism" and spoke up for a number of reasons, the main one being that she wants to protect women from men who she feels might use trans activism in a harmful way:

"When you throw open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he’s a woman... then you open the door to any and all men who wish to come inside. That is the simple truth."

She shared that she felt language such as "menstruators" and "people with vulvas", which is considered inclusive, actually feels "dehumanising and demeaning" to many women.

"I understand why trans activists consider this language to be appropriate and kind, but for those of us who’ve had degrading slurs spat at us by violent men, it’s not neutral, it’s hostile and alienating," she said.

Revealed her own experience with sexual assault

Rowling also revealed that she herself was a survivor of sexual assault, and that she empathises with the fear that trans women may have:

"If you could come inside my head and understand what I feel when I read about a trans woman dying at the hands of a violent man, you’d find solidarity and kinship.

I have a visceral sense of the terror in which those trans women will have spent their last seconds on earth, because I too have known moments of blind fear when I realised that the only thing keeping me alive was the shaky self-restraint of my attacker."

Top photos via Samir Hussein and Angela Weiss on Getty Images, and The Trevor Project.