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Things Just Keep Getting Worse For J.K. Rowling

Harry Potter fans are wishing that J.K. Rowling, author of the novels upon which the film series is based, would use the Silencing Charm ... on herself.

On June 6, 2020, Rowling posted several tweets subtly and not-so-subtly sharing her opinions about transgender individuals. Many have considered Rowling's comments to be hurtful, insensitive, and transphobic — including the biggest Harry Potter star there is. Her tweets prompted a response and an apology to the transgender community from Daniel Radcliffe, who portrayed the Boy Who Lived in all eight Harry Potter movies

This isn't the first time that Rowling has decided to take to Twitter to call into question even the notion of someone being transgender, even though she has no medical experience or education that anybody is aware of. In December 2019, Rowling tweeted her support for some ignorant statements made by Maya Forstater, a discredited researcher at a London think tank whose views on the trans experience were deemed by a British court as "not worthy of respect in a democratic society" (via The New York Times).

"Dress however you please. Call yourself whatever you like," Rowling tweeted at that time. "Sleep with any consenting adult who'll have you. Live your best life in peace and security. But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real? #IStandWithMaya."

The backlash to this tweet from Rowling's fans — who have long found messages of inclusivity, understanding, and enlightenment in Rowling's work — came fast and furious, but the author remained largely silent on the subject until now. Unfortunately, she has only broken her silence to double down. In response to an op-ed article that used the descriptor "people who menstruate," Rowling tweeted, "'People who menstruate.' I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" 

How did Daniel Radcliffe respond to J.K. Rowling's tweets?

Demonstrating a Marvel-esque ability to embody the ideals championed by his character, Radcliffe quickly responded with a post published on the website for The Trevor Project, which provides crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ+ youth. Radcliffe took a brief moment to acknowledge Rowling's role in his career, and issue a brief disclaimer that, despite how it's sure to be perceived by the press, he wasn't looking to start a fight with the author. Then, he started dropping truth bombs.

"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."

The actor then shared a few statistics and educational resources before addressing the Potter fandom directly. 

"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," wrote Radcliffe. "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, non-binary, 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."

How did Harry Potter fans respond to Radcliffe's post?

Among Harry Potter fans on Twitter, the response to Radcliffe's post was spontaneous and spot-on: "Forget J.K. Rowling," the entire fandom seemed to decide all at once. "Let's just pretend that Daniel Radcliffe wrote the Harry Potter books, and go back to enjoying them." Problem solved! 

It appears that one of the first users to get this into their heads was @lonelyfilms, who tweeted, "J.K. Rowling is so embarrassing can we just pretend like Daniel Radcliffe wrote Harry Potter?" This prompted a swift response from user @pocket_size_aly: "Who tf is J.K. Rowling and why are we pretending Daniel Radcliffe wrote Harry Potter?? He actually did, it's rude to diminish his achievements like that."

This appeared to open the floodgates for users who don't tolerate transphobia but are keen on deadpan humor. "Isn't it amazing that #DanielRadcliffe both wrote and starred in Harry Potter," tweeted @chloecastrosan1. "He's like the Lin Manuel Miranda of wizardry." User @cricketspillane jumped in with, "I can't believe Daniel Radcliffe wrote all seven Harry Potter books and starred in all eight film adaptations he is truly unbelievable!"

Perhaps the best exchange of them all: After Twitter user @ThyKingdomScum popped in to marvel that "Daniel Radcliffe was only 8 when he wrote Harry Potter," trivia account @WhatTheFFacts countered, "Sir Isaac Newton was only 23 when he discovered the law of gravity."

Leave it to Twitter to find such an elegant solution to a thorny situation. Also, well done, Mr. Radcliffe — ten points for Gryffindor. 

If you or someone you know are LGBTQ+ and are in crisis or are in need of a safe space to talk, check out The Trevor Project's website, or call the TrevorLifeline at 1-866-488-7386. Chat and text options are also available.