Over the weekend of June 6, J.K. Rowling, the author of the Harry Potter novels, dispelled any uncertainty surrounding her belief about transgender people. She posted several anti-transgender tweets based on long-standing TERF arguments. But Harry Potter actor Daniel Radcliffe's response to J.K. Rowling's anti-trans tweets is a balm to those who are hurt and confused that the writer of such progressive and beloved stories holds such views.
Since December 2019, there have been rumors circulating Rowling was supportive of TERF beliefs. TERF stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist" or people who refuse to accept transgender women as women. Though there were denials, Rowling's new posts confirmed those suspicions of anti-trans bias were correct.
What set Rowling off was an article titled "Creating a more equal post-COVID-19 world for people who menstruate." The article itself had nothing to do with transgender people, but the hygienic conditions of poverty-stricken that are vulnerable to the ongoing pandemic and the need to invest in these communities. Rowling initially seemed to take issue with the gender-neutral headline, but soon it became clear her real problem was the inclusion of nonbinary people it represented.
For fans of the Harry Potter books, this absolutism over gender and the argument that somehow transgender people threatened the ability of cis people to discuss their lived experience was a heartbreaking shock. For years, Rowling's Potter novels have been held up as a bastion of progressive values and credited with helping shape this generation's liberal beliefs. Rowling coming down on the side of a right-wing argument used to discriminate against trans people was a blow.
But fans can take heart. On Monday, June 8, actor Daniel Radcliffe, who played the titular wizard in the film series, posted a response on The Trevor Project website, addressing Rowling's tweets.
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.
But just as importantly, Radcliffe addresses those for whom the Potter books were formative.
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. And in my opinion nobody can touch that.
Radcliffe acknowledged this might be painted as "infighting" between the author and himself, but that the subject was too important for him to keep quiet. Radcliffe has been a member of the Trevor Project's Circle of Hope since 2009 and is a longtime supporter of LGBTQ youth causes. It may not be a spell to magic away the hurt, but fans can at least know Harry Potter is on the right side of history.