J.K. Rowling roiled the Harry Potter fandom over the weekend of June 6, when she posted several anti-transgender tweets. The response from fans was instantaneous, condemning her controversial remarks. Even Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, felt compelled to respond. He's not the only actor who has stepped forward from Rowling's movies. Actor Eddie Redmayne's response to J.K. Rowling's anti-trans tweets reminds fans that the lead of her new franchise disagrees with her.
Rowling's tweets complaining about the inclusion of non-binary and transgender women in an article about menstrual health were based on "TERF" arguments. TERF stands for "trans-exclusionary radical feminist," and, as the name implies, is all about refusing to consider trans women to be women. Rowling had been rumored to hold these beliefs, after another Twitter-based incident in December of 2019. But with her statement, she made it clear she believes only people assigned women at birth counted as women.
Radcliffe's statement, published on The Trevor Project website, was unequivocal. "Transgender women are women." Now Redmayne, who plays Newt Scamander in the Fantastic Beasts franchise, has joined in supporting transgender women against Rowling's remarks.
Speaking 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.
Prior to his role in Fantastic Beasts, Redmayne famously worked with transgender director Lana Wachowski in the cult hit Jupiter Ascending. He also played a transgender woman, Lili Elbe, in The Danish Girl, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award. Redmayne did experience backlash for taking the role of Elbe from activists, who felt the part should have gone to a transgender actress. At the time, he said he considered landing the part a "great responsibility" and hoped he'd done the role proud.
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. 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.
Whether or not Redmayne's statement will prevent the Rowling backlash from affecting Fantastic Beasts 3 when it comes out in 2021 remains to be seen. But Potter fans can at least feel a small relief that one famous Hufflepuff is on their side.