Fantastic Beasts star Eddie Redmayne wants to make it “absolutely clear” he disagrees with J.K. Rowling’s transphobic tweets

In the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, protests against systemic racism and police brutality, and Pride Month, Harry Potter writer J.K. Rowling decided to… post transphobic tweets. (And it’s not the first time.) Now, some of the actors who have worked on the Harry Potter films are voicing their disagreement with the author’s opinions. Eddie Redmayne, who stars in the Fantastic Beasts films, released a statement to Variety on June 10th.

“As someone who has worked with both J.K. Rowling and members of the trans community, I wanted to make it absolutely clear where I stand,” reads Redmayne’s 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,” Redmayne added.

Redmayne played the lead character, Newt Scamander, in both Fantastic Beasts movies. Unlike the Harry Potter films, these movies were both written by Rowling, rather than adaptations of her books by other screenwriters. Three more Fantastic Beasts movies are planned.

In addition to working with Rowling, Redmayne starred in The Danish Girl, for which he was nominated for the Oscar for Best Actor. In the film, he portrayed trans woman Lili Elbe. The actor received some backlash from people who believed a trans actor should have been cast in the role rather than a cisgender one.

In case you missed what Rowling said, on June 6th, she tweeted a link to an article that referred to “people who menstruate” and questioned why they weren’t just called “women.” She then doubled down while seemingly conflating sex with gender. (A very long June 10th post on her website also does so.)

“If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction,” she tweeted.” 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.”

In addition to Redmayne, Daniel Radcliffe responded to Rowling’s tweets in a piece for The Trevor Project. “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.”

Katie Leung, who played Cho Chang in the Harry Potter series, also responded. Amid the loud disapproval of Rowling’s transphobic tweets, people also began speaking out against her depiction of Cho, including her name and lack of character development. In response, Leung tweeted, “So, you want my thoughts on Cho Chang? Okay, here goes…(thread)”, but instead of talking about her character, she posted links to organizations that support Black trans women and ended by writing “#AsiansforBlackLives.” Well played.

Lia Beck
Lia Beck is a writer living in Richmond, Virginia. In addition to Best Life, she has written for Refinery29, Bustle, Hello Giggles, InStyle, and more. Read more
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