Over the weekend, with very little prompting, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling decided to remind everyone that she has some frustratingly outdated and exclusionary opinions on transgender people, saying (among other things) that you can’t accuse her of hating transgender women because her beliefs are “the truth”—with her “truth” essentially being that cisgender women are women and transgender women are not. GLAAD responded, saying that “there is no excuse for targeting trans people in 2020,” accusing her of promoting “an ideology which willfully distorts facts,” and offering a message of support for Harry Potter fans who have been “hurt by her inaccurate and cruel tweets.”
Now, Harry Potter himself has stepped forward to address Rowling’s tweets, with Daniel Radcliffe writing a thoughtful and encouragingly frank rebuttal for The Trevor Project. In it, simply and directly, he says that “transgender women are women” and that “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 [J.K. Rowling] or I.” He also says that “we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
Radcliffe even dedicates a paragraph to how to be a better ally to transgender and nonbinary people, directing readers to The Trevor Project’s information on that very subject. Arguably the most impactful part of his short piece, though, is a tribute to the power of the Harry Potter books that is possibly more meaningful than anything Rowling herself has said about them lately. He says that he hopes anyone who feels like their experience of the books has now been “tarnished or diminished” by Rowling’s comments doesn’t entirely “lose what was valuable” in them in the first place. He then proceeds to list off a handful of lessons that one could take away from the Harry Potter books, like the idea that “love is the strongest force in the universe,” that “strength is found in diversity,” and—very pointedly—that “dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups.”
Radcliffe says in his piece that he doesn’t want “press outlets” to interpret this as “in-fighting” between him and Rowling, so we won’t do that (perish the thought), but he is implying that there’s something similar between Rowling’s tweets and the obsession with pureblood wizards that the villains have in the books. In-fighting or not, the fact that he—the guy who played Harry Potter—was willing to suggest that about her—the woman who created Harry Potter—says a lot.
If you want to support LGBTQ youth, consider donating to GLSEN, which promotes anti-bullying initiatives and gay-straight alliances in schools nationwide, and The Trevor Project, which operates a confidential hotline staffed by trained counselors who provide crisis-intervention and suicide-prevention services.