Emma Watson has spoken out in support of transgender rights following comments made by Harry Potter author JK Rowling that have been criticised for transphobia.
On Wednesday (June 11th), Watson – who found fame at the age of 11 playing Hermione Grainger in the franchise and is known for having a close relationship with Rowling – tweeted: ‘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.
‘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.’
The 30-year-old then shared that she donates to youth trans support organisation Mermaids Gender and Mama Cash – a feminist organisation supporting the rights of women, girls, trans and intersex women – and encouraged her followers to do the same if they can before wishing everyone a happy Pride month.
Watson’s messages come days after Rowling shared her reaction to an article titled ‘Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate.’ The author commented: ‘”People who menstruate.” I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?’.
She has since faced a measurably large backlash for her sweeping statement (during Pride month no less) which failed to acknowledge, and therefore excluded, trans men and non-binary people who can also menstruate, as well as the fact that just because trans women may not menstruate, it doesn’t make them not a ‘woman,’ and also that some cisgender women do not menstruate for a whole breadth of medical reasons.
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Shortly afterwards, Harry Potter himself, Daniel Radcliffe, made a statement via LGBTQ+ youth supporting charity the Trevor Project apologising for the ‘pain’ his HP creator’s comments have caused, particularly to any fans of the books and films who might feel ‘their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished’.
Eddie Redmayne, who played the lead protagonist in Rowling’s other successful franchise The Fantastic Beasts, also responded by emphatically disagreeing with Rowling’s comments and voicing support for the transgender community.
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‘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 Danish Girl actor told Variety. ‘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.’
Other actors who have starred in Rowling-inspired films like Evanna Lynch, who played Luna Lovegod, and Katie Leung – who portrayed Cho Chang – also aired their thoughts.
For her part, Rowling responded to the mounting criticism over her stance in a lengthy essay on her website on Wednesday, though she did not acknowledge the critique from her own colleagues.
In her essay, the author shared her experiences of domestic abuse and sexual assault saying that her experience of male violence against women leads her to support single-sex spaces (while also vocalising ‘solidarity and kinship’ with trans women who have been abused by men).
Rowling also defended her comments under the arguments of free speech, the fact her charitable interests support women, her want to safeguard and educate children, her ‘concern about the huge explosion in young women wishing to transition’ – which also included a questionable conflation of gender dysphoria and mental health issues – and being worried about ‘the new trans activism’ which she suggests silences some women in an ever-increasing misogynistic society. Noting the use of inclusive language like ‘people with vulvas’ – which are intended to included trans and non-binary people into the conversation – Rowling suggested it could be ‘demeaning and dehumanising’ and ‘hostile and alienating’.