Daniel Radcliffe Responds to J.K. Rowling: "Transgender Women Are Women"

Daniel Radcliffe - Tommy Hilfiger Dinner -Getty-H 2016
Andreas Rentz/Getty Images for Tommy Hilfiger

The actor reacted to comments that sparked online outrage, but said there was no in-fighting between himself and the 'Harry Potter' author.

Harry Potter stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint have joined the transgender debate recently sparked by comments made by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling. 

In an essay posted to the website of The Trevor Project, a nonprofit organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to young LGBTQ people, Radcliffe responded to a series of tweets from Rowling that many considered to be transphobic and elicited numerous angry responses, including from media advocacy group GLAAD.

"Transgender women are women," wrote Radcliffe. "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."

Radcliffe pointed to stats from The Trevor Project showing that 78 percent of transgender and nonbinary youth had reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. "It's clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities and not cause further harm," he added.

The post was a reaction to Rowling's tweets over the weekend, which began when she reposted an opinion article from the website Devex titled, "Creating a more equal post COVID-19 world for people who menstruate." She called out the story for its use of language, writing, "People who menstruate. I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

In a thread that garnered thousands of responses from upset individuals and saw Rowling trending on Twitter, the author continued by speaking about the intricacies of biological sex. "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction. If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth."

In his essay, Radcliffe said that, while he fully expected the media to portray it in this manner, the reason for his response wasn't "in-fighting" between himself and Rowling. 

"While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment," he said, while also apologizing to those who feel their experience of the Harry Potter books had now been tarnished. 

"I really hope that you don't entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you," he said. "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."

Radcliffe concluded: "And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much."

On Wednesday, the actor's Harry Potter co-star Watson also contributed to the conversation, writing on Twitter, "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."

The actress followed up by saying, "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."

She noted some charities that she donates to including Mermaids, a UK charity supporting gender diverse and trans children and teenagers; and feminist fund Mama Cash, which supports the activism of girls, women, trans and intersex people globally.

In a statement to the Sunday Times, Radcliffe and Watson's Harry Potter co-star Grint also addressed Rowling's statement: "Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment." 

June 10, 3:10 p.m.: Updated to include Emma Watson's tweet.

June 14: 11:49 a.m. Updated to include Rupert Grint's statement.