In the time since Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling began making transphobic comments online, many of the actors from the Harry Potter movies have condemned her words and stood up for the trans community. Well, this actor is taking the author's side. In a new interview, Ralph Fiennes defended Rowling when it comes to the backlash against her.
"I can’t understand the vitriol directed at her," the Voldemort actor said in an interview with The Telegraph (via The Hollywood Reporter). "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 towards others, disturbing."
In some situations, what Fiennes had to say might check out. In some situations, people shouldn't be hateful when someone disagrees with them. But, in this situation, many would find Rowling's language to be that which is condemning, hateful, and violent. With the violence and injustice experienced by the trans community, a popular writer like Rowling with millions of followers sharing these sentiments only encourages that discrimination to continue, whether she intends to or not.
Rowling's history of transphobic Twitter activity came to a head in June 2020, when the author posted an article that included the phrase "people who menstruate" and wrote, "I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" implying that the only people who menstruate are women and that menstruation defines womanhood.
Rowling then doubled down on her views in further tweets that conflated sex with gender. She also wrote a lengthy essay on her website in which she expressed concerns about young people falsely believing that they are trans and about men being able to enter women's restrooms under the guise of being trans. All the while, she maintained that she supported trans people.
In reaction to her views, Rowling faced backlash online, lost fans, and several stars of the Harry Potter films spoke out against her. Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Katie Leung, and Bonnie Wright are among those who spoke up in support of the trans community.
In addition to Fiennes, Rowling has received some support from actors. Eddie Redmayne, who starred in the Fantastic Beasts movies, spoke out against Rowling's anti-trans statements and in support of trans people, but also called the "vitriol" against Rowling "absolutely disgusting" in an interview with the Daily Mail. And taking things much further, Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid, told Radio Times (via the Independent) he "didn't think what she said was offensive really" and that people on Twitter "hang around waiting to be offended."