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Ralph Fiennes Defends J.K. Rowling Over Trans Controversy

Public opinion of the Harry Potter creator has shifted in recent years over her comments about transgender people.


Actor Ralph Fiennes is the latest actor from the Harry Potter films to jump into the fire surrounding author J.K. Rowling and her stance on transgender rights. In an interview with The Telegraph, the actor came out in defense of the author whose books (and subsequent films) helped put his noseless face into the nightmares of countless children over the last two decades.

"I can't understand the vitriol directed at her," Fiennes said. "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."

Rowling has been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons since at least June of last year, when she commented on a story that referred to "people who menstruate," a description meant to include not just people who were born and identify as women but also people who do not identify as women but still experience those functions. Amid backlash for the comments, Rowling doubled down with an essay that simultaneously acknowledged the heightened risk that trans people experience while also suggesting that enough of them could be predators that they shouldn't be allowed into single-sex spaces for women.

Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Rupert Grint have made statements in support of the trans community while also trying to deflect the idea that the support does not amount to a feud between the cast members and the author.

"Transgender women are women," Radcliffe said in a statement. "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." Watson and Grint's statements were similar in tone.

Meanwhile, the Harry Potter machine keeps cranking away at Warner Bros. because it's one of the biggest properties in the world, and both a third Fantastic Beasts movie and a hotly-awaited Hogwarts-themed video game are on the way. The studios behind both have released statements distancing themselves from Rowling's stance. WB Games stated that Rowling is not directly involved with the Hogwarts Legacy game, and that the story is not based on any new work from Rowling. Warner Bros., meanwhile, said that "the events in the last several weeks have firmed our resolve as a company to confront difficult societal issues. Warner Bros.’ position on inclusiveness is well established, and fostering a diverse and inclusive culture has never been more important to our company and to our audiences around the world."

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