Voldemort Actor Ralph Fiennes Defends J.K. Rowling Amid Transgender Comment Controversy
It’s only fitting that Hogwarts’ greatest villain is defending J.K. Rowling after she made offensive and dangerous remarks about the transgender community.
In an interview with the UK’s The Telegraph published Wednesday, Harry Potter actor Ralph Fiennes, who portrayed villain Lord Voldemort in the films based on Rowling’s bestselling books, said he believed the “level of hatred” aimed at Rowling was not warranted.
The 58-year-old Oscar nominee explained:
“I can’t understand the vitriol directed at her. 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.”
Well, that’s a wickedly reductive way to look at the situation. The fact that he can’t understand why some are so outraged that a mega-influential author made comments that many viewed as dangerous to the trans community merely shows his lack of awareness on the subject.
Yes, out of the many, many critics of Rowling’s remarks, *some* likely used hateful language when venting about it on social media — but by merely focusing on the “vitriol,” Ralph is completely dismissing the thousands of rational, articulate critics who camly condemned the scribe’s comments.
Many of those critics were Ralph’s Harry Potter co-stars. Series star Daniel Radcliffe said at the time he was “deeply sorry for the pain comments have caused,” adding:
“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.”
Emma Watson also addressed the author’s comments, tweeting:
“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.”
Rupert Grint, for his part, issued a statement in response to Rowling’s 3,600-word 2020 essay in which she said her comments were not transphobic. According to UK’s The Sunday Times, he said:
“I firmly stand with the trans community and echo the sentiments expressed by many of my peers. Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment.”
Meanwhile, Eddie Redmayne, star of the prequel Fantastic Beasts movie franchise, told Variety in a June statement:
“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.”
As you likely know, the 55-year-old writer sparked backlash last June when she appeared to support anti-transgender sentiments in a series of tweets. She later tried to clarify some of her comments, expressing concern that some young people were being pushed toward “hormones and surgery” before being 100% sure that they were truly transgender. She wrote:
“Many, myself included, believe we are watching a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people, who are being set on a lifelong path of medicalisation that may result in the loss of their fertility and/or full sexual function.”
LGBTQIA+ advocates issued statements condemning her initial comments, with GLAAD President and CEO Sarah Kate Ellis calling it a “misinformed and dangerous missive about transgender people” that “flies in the face of medical and psychological experts and devalues trans people accounts of their own lives.”
Sarah McBride, national press secretary for the LGBTQIA-rights advocacy group Human Rights Campaign, previously said of the comments:
“To be very clear, in painting transgender people, particularly trans women, as caricatures and potentially as threats to the safety of other people, she is reinforcing the very prejudices that are at the heart of the discrimination, and oftentimes the violence, that comes to the trans community’s way…. When trans people face discrimination in employment and housing and public spaces, it’s discrimination that’s rooted in the prejudice that transgender people are not who we say we are. And that is exactly what J.K. Rowling is reinforcing.”
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