Celebs Who Have Called Out J.K. Rowling

J.K. Rowling has created one of the most revolutionary magical worlds in contemporary young adult literature. But while Harry Potter's wizarding world and Hogwarts have been a fictional safe-haven for many marginalized people young and old, Rowling's own opinions have been known to cause not only Twitter wars, but full-blown online controversy.

She frequently makes exclusionary comments about gender identity, and it has damaged her relationships — even among the cast of the Harry Potter movie franchise. Trans author Katelyn Burns framed Rowling's behavior plainly in an essay for them. "Ultimately, the answer is yes, she is transphobic, at least in the ways that so many average cisgender people can be," Burns wrote. "Because she's J.K. Rowling, creator of the best-selling book series of all time and an idol to so many LGBTQ+ children and now adults, she gets called out for it. I think it's fair that she receives criticism from trans people, especially given her advocacy on behalf of queer people in general, but also because she has a huge platform." Let's take a look at some of the celebrities who are calling out J.K. Rowling for her comments. 

Daniel Radcliffe is protecting Harry Potter fans from J.K. Rowling's ideas

In June 2020, Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling faced backlash for a series of tweets that suggest she doesn't believe trans women are women. In response to a headline referencing "people who menstruate," Rowling said, "I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?" suggesting that to be called a "woman" one must menstruate. Rowling expanded on her beliefs in a thread that was controversial.

 Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe responded on The Trevor Project website. The Trevor Project is an organization that provides "crisis intervention and suicide prevention services" for LGBTQIA youth. "As someone who has been honored to work with and continues to contribute to The Trevor Project for the last decade, and just as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment," Radcliffe said in the statement. "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." 

Radcliffe encourages people to be better allies, shares informational resources, and assures fans that the positive messages they may have taken from the books are "between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred."

Sarah Paulson and Stephen King aren't afraid to let J.K. Rowling know how they feel

Actress Sarah Paulson was quite explicit when expressing her feelings about J.K. Rowling's opinions. She tweeted, "Good night and shut up," and tagged the author in response to Rowling's tweet claiming that "If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased." Rowling's tweet continued, "I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth."

Fellow authors are also telling Rowling how they feel on Twitter, even if less explicitly. When The Shining author Stephen King retweeted a quote by feminist Andrea Dworkin that Rowling posted to Twitter reading, "Men often react to women's words—speaking and writing—as if they were acts of violence; sometimes men react to women's words with violence. It isn't hateful for women to speak about their own experiences, nor do they deserve shaming for doing so," Newsweek reported that Rowling tweeted support. "I've always revered @StephenKing, but today my love reached—maybe not Annie Wilkes levels—but new heights," the tweet reportedly said. King's retweet of Rowling prompted his fans to ask if he supported trans women, given Rowling's known beliefs. After King tweeted, "Yes. Trans women are women," Rowling's tweet praising him suddenly disappeared.

Anthony Rapp said that money doesn't make J.K. Rowling and expert on trans issues

Broadway star Anthony Rapp has tweeted several essays about why J.K. Rowling's beliefs are problematic and encouraged fans to listen to trans people instead of a famous author. "She has such a powerful voice. Why is she using that voice to die on a hill of transphobia?" Rapp asked in a tweet. "Is it really her belief that trans women somehow threaten her own selfhood? What is she so f***ing afraid of?"

Rapp responded to followers he said were "white dudes" asking him what made Rowling's tweets transphobic. "A vulnerable community of people is telling you their lived experience. LISTEN TO THEM!!!" [SIC], another tweet said. He backed up his words with actions by sharing an essay written by a trans woman explaining "Why What J.K. Rowling Said Was Transphobic." He also shared a thread supporting the idea that biological sex is not as cut and dry as people think it is, and one that corrects the "half-truths" in Rowling's rebuttal essay point-by-point.

Women in music don't want to hear J.K. Rowling

A writer with J.K. Rowling's popularity has privilege because her voice reaches the masses quickly. Several women in music have made it quite clear that they don't want to hear it anymore. Singer Halsey had something to say on Twitter about the hypocrisy behind J.K. Rowling creating a "generation defining series about a youth uprisal" who defeated a villain obsessed with the idea of "pure blood" and the author choosing to invalidate trans people.

The band Tegan & Sara called Rowling a "TERF" or "Trans-exclusionary radical feminist" and implored her to stop following their account, adding a couple of other choice words, too. Singer Mary Lambert, known for lending her vocals to the Macklemore and Ryan Lewis song "Same Love" supporting the LBGTQIA community, tweeted her outrage at Rowling's comments. "This is so disgraceful," Lambert said, tagging Rowling. "Trans women are women and they are fighting for their lives. When you push this trans exclusionary agenda, you make their lives infinitely more difficult. Shame on you."

Billy Eichner thinks J.K. Rowling needs therapy

J.K. Rowling published an essay defending her views and addressing the backlash she's received on her website. She said that what she calls "new" trans feminism is "pushing to erode the legal definition of sex and replace it with gender." In her essay, Rowling claims that some people think they need to transition genders in response to oppression. The author said she felt "mentally sexless" in youth, and that "The allure of escaping womanhood would have been huge."

Although he didn't mention Rowling by name at all, one day after the essay was published, comedian and American Horror Story actor Billy Eichner tweeted, "Trans women are women. Trans men are men. Non binary people are non binary. And I will never understand why some people are bothered by this." He continued, "Life is short. Let people be who they are. It doesn't concern you!!!"

Emma Watson and Rupert Grint made their support for the trans community known

Hogwarts' king and queen support trans people. Harry Potter franchise stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson, who played sweethearts Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger in the films, made individual statements in support of the trans rights. "I firmly stand with the trans community," Grint said in a statement to Us Weekly. "Trans women are women. Trans men are men. We should all be entitled to live with love and without judgment."

On Twitter, Watson declared, "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." She also had a message for her trans followers, "I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are." She then shared the organizations that she donates to, in case her followers were looking for a meaningful action to take.

Eddie Redmayne condemns J.K. Rowling's beliefs

Hogwarts students aren't the only stars condemning J.K. Rowling's words. Eddie Redmayne, who starred in the Harry Potter spinoff Fantastic Beasts and portrayed Lili Elbe, a transgender woman in The Danish Girl, gave a statement of support for the transgender community to Deadline in June of 2020. "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," the actor said. "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."

His statement ended by saying that questioning trans identities often leads to violence and abuse. People in the trans community, Redmayne said, "simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it's time to let them do so."

That same month, goss began circulating that Redmayne reportedly wants J.K. Rowling let go from the Fantastic Beasts franchise (via We Got This Covered). Although the rumor hasn't been confirmed, it can definitely pose a problem if the actor is flat-out refusing to work with the controversial author.

Jonathan Van Ness criticized J.K. Rowling for doing harm to the trans community

Netflix's Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness also tweeted about the controversial way J.K. Rowling uses her power. "Trans women are women. Trans Black people & trans non-Black people are discriminated against every single day," Van Ness tweeted. "They're dying. We're fighting for Black people & trans people and you're doing this?"

Although Rowling has tweeted, "I respect every trans person's right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I'd march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans," Van Ness makes a fair point. Trans lives are consistently threatened worldwide. Tweeting rhetoric that fuels anti-trans sentiment is the exact opposite of marching beside a community fighting for their lives.

Instead of taking action, Rowling spends a lot of time framing transness as something that threatens women in her essay. "I've read all the arguments about femaleness not residing in the sexed body, and the assertions that biological women don't have common experiences, and I find them, too, deeply misogynistic and regressive." She would definitely benefit from a visit with The Fab Five.

The GLAAD organization spoke out against J.K. Rowling

Perhaps it's unsurprising, but it's still noteworthy that the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD) spoke out explicitly against J.K. Rowling's comments on Twitter. "JK Rowling continues to align herself with an ideology which willfully distorts facts about gender identity and people who are trans," they said. "In 2020, there is no excuse for targeting trans people."

They encouraged followers to transform negative emotions into action, "If you want to direct your rightful anger over JK Rowling's latest anti-trans comments into something positive, support orgs that help Black trans people like @MPJInstitute, @blacktransusa, @TransJusticeFP, @Genderintell and @ukblackpride," another tweet said. As a cherry on top, they acknowledged the pain that some Harry Potter fans (especially youth) might be feeling if Rowling's fictional words have helped them in any way while her real-life beliefs hurt them. They shared an essay by The New York Times by a trans writer for whom Harry Potter was once a source of strength while he was coming out as trans.