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Daniel Radcliffe rebukes J.K. Rowling’s latest tweets about trans women

After the author’s widely criticized round of gender identity tweets over the weekend, the actor spoke up on behalf of transgender women.

Daniel Radcliffe rebukes J.K. Rowling’s latest tweets about trans women
[Photo: Isabel Infantes/PA Images via Getty Images]
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The creator of Harry Potter seems to have lost Harry Potter himself, as Daniel Radcliffe comes to the defense of trans women in the wake of J.K. Rowling’s latest Twitter fiasco.

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As some readers may recall, Rowling capped off the year 2019 by wading into the waters of Trans Exclusionary Radical Feminism. (For those who don’t know, TERF is a popular term to describe women who deny trans women any measure of legitimacy.) The author declared her support for Maya Forstater, a tax expert who had just been fired by the Centre for Global Development over her tweets questioning U.K. government plans to allow people to self-identify by the gender they please. (One of her tweets included a flat-out declaration that “men cannot change into women.”)

After six rather eventful months since Rowling’s last offending tweets, she returned over the weekend with another batch that further burnished her TERF credentials.

It started with a tweet ridiculing a publication for running an article about global menstrual health with an inclusive headline that refers to “people who menstruate.”

When Twitter users responded negatively to Rowling’s tweet, the author proceeded to, as the kids say, “tweet through it,” explaining herself in a way that only exacerbated things.

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Rowling’s language may scan as polite on a quick read for anyone who isn’t already engaged in trans rights issues, but the underlying message is clear: Trans women are great, but they should not be able to call themselves women. As one of the most successful authors in history, Rowling is keenly familiar with the power of words and is aware of what othering can do. Her language may not be as coarse as a common bigot yelling on a street corner, but she is rather politely denying trans women their very identity. And she is doing so to a global following of untold millions of people, many of them young and impressionable Harry Potter fans.

Members of the LGBTQ community, allies, and organizations such as GLAAD all quickly denounced Rowling’s comments over the weekend, and now Radcliffe has added his voice to the chorus.

The actor, who more or less owes his entire career to the author for creating his signature role, penned a letter to LGBTQ crisis center The Trevor Project in response to Rowling’s tweets. Although Radcliffe makes it clear within the opening lines that his message should not be seen as infighting between himself and Rowling, it’s clear from what follows that there is a deep ideological gulf between the two.

“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. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth 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.”

Whether Rowling will consider conjuring the patronus of Someone Who Listens remains to be seen.