“#‘Harry Potter’ Star Daniel Radcliffe Shows Support for Transgender Community, Refutes J.K. Rowling’s Tweets About Gender Identity”
“Transgender women are women.” That’s the (correct) personal stance of former Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, who has written a brief essay responding to a series of tweets written this past weekend by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling which argue the contrary. Radcliffe’s support of the trans community prove once again that he’s a good dude, and in addition to that, his words about grappling with the stance of an auteur behind a popular piece of fiction are applicable in multiple cases across lots of different forms of media.
This past Saturday, author and screenwriter J.K. Rowling once again tweeted a series of statements which drew the ire of the transgender community. Things got so bad that LGBTQIA organization GLAAD issued a statement, saying Rowling “continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans. In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people.”
Instead of focusing on her comments, though, let’s focus on Daniel Radcliffe’s response, which he wrote for The Trevor Project, an organization which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to members of the LGBTQIA community who are under 25 years old.
“Transgender women are women,” he wrote. “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.”
Crucially, Radcliffe admits that he doesn’t have all the answers. “I’m still learning to be a better ally,” he wrote, and his essay points to a resource where people – including Rowling – can better educate themselves about transgender and nonbinary identities.
Elsewhere in the article, Radcliffe addresses the disappointment expressed by many members of the Harry Potter fandom in the wake of Rowling’s comments. I love what he has to say here:
To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. 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. 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.
Fandoms of many kinds frequently put storytellers on pedestals, and all too often find themselves grappling with the shortcomings of those storytellers. Radcliffe’s statement could apply to the works of any number of “problematic” creators of movies, TV shows, comics, music, or any art form you embrace, and I think it might be the clearest distillation of a relationship between consumer and a given work of art that I’ve seen yet. I’ll be thinking about this mindset every time I’m inevitably disappointed in the actions of a creator I previously respected, and hope his words echo within you when something similar happens to you.
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