Not too long ago, the book and movie franchise had one of the most dedicated fandoms in the world, with Rowling as their beloved matriarch. But then the British born author made the fatal error of veering from the mainstream narrative regarding transgender ideology. In no time, Rowling became a target of effusive hatred normally reserved for conservatives.
Fans came after the “Harry Potter” creator, blasting her publicly on social media and private messaging death threats. Rowling has leftist views on most social issues. But insisting that biological men could not become women earned her the scorn of so many fans and former supporters.
Among those were the movie stars who arguably owed their careers to the success of the “Harry Potter” franchise. While most turned against Rowling, ignoring the more sinister threats she was receiving daily, others were brave enough to stand up for her, even when they claimed to disagree with her stance on the trans issue.
It all started in 2020 when the “Harry Potter” creator tweeted the link to an article that referred to women as “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.
“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,” she continued in a follow-up.
“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,” Rowling wrote, confirming that while she doesn’t believe in discrimination against trans-identifying people, she also doesn’t “believe it’s hateful” to observe biological reality.
Rowling’s tweets got her labeled as a TERF, which stands for “trans-exclusionary radical feminist.” Then the “Harry Potter” actors began to turn on her.
British star Daniel Radcliffe played the titular character in the film series and decided to pen an essay for LGBTQ nonprofit The Trevor Project in the wake of Rowling’s viral tweets.
“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,” Radcliffe wrote in 2020.
“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.”
The 33-year-old actor doubled down on that sentiment in 2022. “The reason I was felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing ‘Potter,’ I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that,” Radcliffe told IndieWire during a recent interview.
“And so seeing them hurt on that day I was like, I wanted them to know that not everybody in the franchise felt that way… I don’t think I would’ve been able to look myself in the mirror had I not said anything. But it’s not mine to guess what’s going on in someone else’s head.”
Some of Radcliffe’s co-stars felt the same way.
“I firmly stand with the trans community,” Rupert Grint, the actor who played Ron Weasley, said in a statement to Us Weekly in June 2020. “Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment.”
“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,” Emma Watson, who played Hermione, shared on Twitter in June 2020.
“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.”
“Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them” star Eddie Redmayne pledged his allegiance to the trans community but also said critics were being way too hard on Rowling.
“As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand,” the actor said in a statement in June 2020.
“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.”
But in a follow-up, Redmayne told Daily Mail that the “vitriol” aimed at Rowling on social media was “absolutely disgusting.” He said, “’Similarly, there continues to be a hideous torrent of abuse towards trans people online and out in the world that is devastating.”
Actor Ralph Fiennes, who plays Lord Voldemort in the “Harry Potter” franchise, has been one of Rowling’s staunchest defenders.
“I can’t understand the vitriol directed at her,” Fiennes said in a March 2021 interview with The Telegraph. “I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational. I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language toward others, disturbing.”
He expressed similar sentiments during an October 2022 interview with The New York Times, as The Daily Wire previously reported.
“J.K. Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally centered human being. The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling,” Fiennes told the outlet.
And he wasn’t the only one. “For all that she has said some very controversial things, I was not going to be jumping to stab her in the front — or back — without a conversation with her, which I’ve not managed to have yet,” Jason Isaacs from “Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets” told The Telegraph in January.
Actress Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegood, said she was “so saddened to see trans people feeling abandoned by the HP community” but stressed her respect for Rowling.
“I think it’s irresponsible to discuss such a delicate topic over Twitter through fragmented thoughts and I wish Jo wouldn’t. That said, as a friend and admirer of Jo I can’t forget what a generous and loving person she is,” she tweeted in 2020, agreeing with the idea that “trans women are women.”
“I’ve talked to all the cast, they all have great respect for her even if they don’t agree with her beliefs. I really strongly disagree with the narrative that there’s a rift,” Lynch said of the subject in January 2022. “She has her beliefs and she’s doing her thing. We all have strong beliefs and it’s been a very difficult conversation. I want there to be healing and I don’t want us to keep fighting.”
Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the “Harry Potter” movies, also came to Rowling’s defense prior to his death in October 2022.
“I don’t think what she said was offensive, really,” he told Radio Times in 2020. “I don’t know why, but there’s a whole Twitter generation of people who hang around waiting to be offended. They wouldn’t have won the war, would they?”
“That’s me talking like a grumpy old man, but you just think, ‘Oh, get over yourself. Wise up, stand up straight, and carry on.’ I don’t want to get involved in all of that because of all the hate mail and all that sh**, which I don’t need at my time of life,” he concluded.