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J.K. Rowling Finally Addresses Her Absence From The Harry Potter Reunion Special

HBO's Max's "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" special was supposed to be an awesome time of remembrance and celebration for franchise fans and creator J.K. Rowling, with it being a public ode to the famous film series that began adapting her books two decades ago. But controversy eventually crept in, with media outlets reporting that Rowling wouldn't be attending the January 2022 reunion or featured in any new content related to it. Speculation ran rampant after the announcement was made about Rowling's absence, with many people believing HBO didn't want the famed author to participate on account of comments she had made in the past against the trans community. Now, Rowling is trying to finally set the record straight about what happened.

"I wasn't actually [excluded]," Rowling explained in a new interview with Graham Norton for Virgin Radio. "I was asked to be on that, and I decided I didn't want to do it," she said.

The whole controversy surrounding the English-born "Harry Potter" scribe first began in 2019, when she showed support on Twitter for Maya Forstater, a discredited London researcher who caused a public uproar by declaring "sex is real" and alleging that transgender people couldn't deny the way they were born (per NBC). Then in early 2020, Rowling tweeted out her opinion on the concept of biological sex and began calling out individuals for using the phrase "people who menstruate" rather than "women," citing the biological sexes of men and women. "If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased," Rowling tweeted on June 6, 2020. "I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives." Many movie fans and "Harry Potter" lovers are convinced that Rowling's feelings toward the trans community were what led to her "Return to Hogwarts" absence, but Rowling told Norton that it was actually a show of respect for the movie franchise on her end.

'I thought it was about the films more than the books'

According to J.K. Rowling, it was her own decision to not be heavily involved or in attendance for HBO's Max's "Harry Potter 20th Anniversary: Return to Hogwarts" special because she ultimately wanted the spotlight to be on the movies rather than the books, since that's what the special was celebrating — the 20th anniversary of "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" aka the debut of the Hollywood franchise.

"Quite rightly, that was what the anniversary was about," Rowling told Graham Norton. "No one said, 'Don't come.' I was asked to do it, and I decided not to." Asked if she still stays in touch and has a relationship with anyone from the movies, including the actors, Rowling said: "Yes, I do. I mean, some more than others, but that was always the case. Some I knew better than others."

Until now, Rowling had never spoken in-depth about what led to her absence from "Return to Hogwarts." Sources close to the situation told Entertainment Weekly back in December 2021 that an invitation was, indeed, sent to Rowling for her to appear on the HBO Max special, but that her team felt archival footage of her speaking in 2019 about the film franchise would be a better fit. It was unclear why, exactly, they felt this way.

LGBTQ advocacy organizations, such as GLAAD and the Trevor Project, have all called out and condemned Rowling for her prior statements against trans people. Franchise stars Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, and Eddie Redmayne — who stars in the "Fantastic Beasts" movies — have also come forward and shared their support for the trans community. "Transgender women are women," Radcliffe said in a June 2020 statement (via The Guardian). "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."