I was part way through drafting a post entitled "Allies who are and allies who aren't" for the anniversary of a sudden attack on me as a trans woman by people whom I thought were friends. I will save that for another day as the controversy of J.K. Rowling's anti-trans tweets has blown up.
I am not going to discuss the actual issue but I am going to share many messages to the trans community this week from actors who are allies because they are kind and moving and make me feel hopeful in an otherwise bleak year.
I was very moved indeed by this powerfully supportive yet humble statement from Daniel Radcliffe who played the part of Rowling's character Harry Potter:
I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as in-fighting between J.K. Rowling and myself, but that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now. While Jo is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken, as someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project [an LGBT suicide prevention organisation] for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment.
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.
I am still learning how to be a better ally, so if you want to join me in learning more about transgender and nonbinary identities check out The Trevor Project’s Guide to Being an Ally to Transgender and Nonbinary Youth. It’s an introductory educational resource that covers a wide range of topics, including the differences between sex and gender, and shares best practices on how to support transgender and nonbinary people.
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.
Thank you, Daniel!
Eddie Redmayne, who has acted in another Rowling-based film and played the TS protagonist of The Danish Girl said:
Respect for transgender people remains a cultural imperative, and over the years I have been trying to constantly educate myself. This is an ongoing process. 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. 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.
Thank you, Sir!
Emma Watson, a well-known feminist herself and star, again, of the Harry Potter films, has tweeted the two following statements:
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.
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.
Again, thank you.
Evanna Lynch (who plays Luna Lovegood) said:
I imagine that being trans and learning to accept and love yourself
is challenging enough, and we as a society should not be adding to that
Feeling like you don’t fit in or aren’t accepted for who you are are
the worst, most lonely feelings a human can experience and I won’t be
helping to marginalise trans women and men further.
I applaud the immense bravery they show in embracing themselves and
think we all should listen to their stories, especially as it is Pride
That is deeply understanding, kind and thoughtful support, Evanna. Thank you.
Chris Rankin (who plays Percy Weasley) said:
My beautiful, brave, strong, trans friends and house of #ChrisNess family [a virtual community thats supports queer youth]. We love you. I can’t say it enough.
You’re wonderful, and deserve to be treated as such. Please know that. Be proud of who you are. We are proud of you.
There are plenty more such supportive statements and pro-trans actions from actors such as Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley), Noma Dumezweni (Hermione on stage), Katie Leung (Cho Chang), from Rowling's US editor, Arthur Levine, and Harry Potter groups, but these are the ones that made me feel happiest.
Genuine allies are priceless. I hope sharing this support is as uplifting to my readers as it was for me.