Eddie Redmayne Speaks Out Against J.K. Rowling’s Transphobic Comments

Redmayne portraying Newt Scamander in the second Fantastic Beasts film, The Crimes of Grindelwald. (Image: Warner Bros.)
Redmayne portraying Newt Scamander in the second Fantastic Beasts film, The Crimes of Grindelwald. (Image: Warner Bros.)

In the wake of J.K. Rowling’s comments this weekend defending herself against repeated accusations of transphobia, actors from across the Harry Potter universe’s film adaptations have spoken out in support of transgender rights, including the boy wizard himself, Daniel Radcliffe. Now, he’s been joined by another prominent voice in the saga: Fantastic Beasts headliner Eddie Redmayne.

Redmayne issued a statement to Variety earlier today (before Rowling gave yet another statement today) offering a succinct but firm refutation of Rowling’s comments over the weekend, where — after facing renewed accusations of transphobic commentary while sharing an article about the impact of the novel coronavirus on people who menstruate — the Potter author issued a series of tweets conflating biology and gender identity.

“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,” Redmayne’s statement began. “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.”

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“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,” the actor continued. “They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it’s time to let them do so.”

This is not the first time that Redmayne himself has been involved in trans issues, having drawn criticism as a cisgender man for his portrayal of Lili Elbe, one of the earliest recipients of gender confirmation surgery in 2016’s The Danish Girl, for which he received an Oscar nomination. But his decision to speak out not just in support of the trans community but to directly disagree with Rowling is important.

Radcliffe’s own statement, an essay written for the Trevor Project organisation, was powerful enough as is, given that he was the face of Rowling’s creation in Warner Bros.’ adaptation for over a decade. But the main Harry Potter saga is over now, along with Radcliffe’s involvement with it. That Redmayne, the current star of the franchise in the Fantastic Beasts series — a film saga Rowling herself remains deeply involved with, both as the architect of the franchise and as a screenwriter — has not just publicly stated his own support for transgender rights, but specifically spoken out against Rowling’s own commentary, is particularly pointed due to his ongoing involvement in the Wizarding World.

It makes Warner Bros.’ continued silence on the matter increasingly deafening. Gizmodo has reached out to Warner Bros. once again to see if the studio has any plans on addressing Rowling’s involvement with its plans for the Harry Potter saga, as well as her continued comments about trans issues. We’ll update this post if we hear back.

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