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Eddie Redmayne says ‘vitriol’ JK Rowling has received over trans comments is ‘absolutely disgusting’

Actor also called out ‘hideous’ abuse of trans people

Ellie Harrison
Tuesday 29 September 2020 09:53

Eddie Redmayne has commented on the JK Rowling trans row, saying the backlash she has received is “disgusting” while also calling out anti-trans abuse.

The actor, who starred in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films as Newt Scamander, told The Daily Mail he thinks the “torrent of abuse toward trans people online” is “hideous”, but added that he was alarmed by the “vitriol” towards Rowling, which he described as “absolutely disgusting”.

Redmayne also said the fierce criticism of Rowling had prompted him to write a private note to the author.  

Rowling has been embroiled in a trans row since June, when she mocked a headline that included the inclusive phrasing “people who menstruate”.

She has been heavily criticised by activists and fans for her remarks about transgender people, which have been viewed by many as harmful and transphobic. The author has denied making transphobic comments.

Rowling wrote an essay on the issue that was countered by Harry Potter stars including Daniel Radcliffe.  In it, she argued that discussion of gender identity invalidated biological sex. “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction," she wrote. “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. 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.”

Redmayne is no stranger to the trans debate. When he played Lili Elbe, one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery, in 2015’s The Danish Girl, the decision to cast a cisgender male as a transgender female was widely criticised.  

“There is a hugely valid argument that Lili should be being played by a trans actress and that at the core of the issue there is little opportunity for trans people and there is a huge job discrimination,” said Redmayne at the time. “What’s complicated to me, from an actor’s point of view, is that I feel like everyone should be able to play everything.”

A number of prominent British literary figures recently signed an open letter supporting Rowling amid the row over her stance on transgender rights.

More than 50 actors, writers, journalists and playwrights wrote a response to apparent “hate speech” directed towards her, which was published in The Sunday Times.

Among them are authors Ian McEwan, Lionel Shriver and Susan Hill, actors Griff Rhys Jones and Frances Barber, and TV writer Graham Linehan.

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