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Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes defends JK Rowling from ‘disgusting abuse’ over trans views

’She’s not some obscene, uber right-wing fascist,’ Voldemort actor said

Jacob Stolworthy
Tuesday 25 October 2022 09:44 BST
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Harry Potter star Ralph Fiennes has criticised the “verbal abuse” levied against JK Rowling as “disgusting”.

The actor, who played Lord Voldemort in the wizarding franchise created by Rowling, was addressing the backlash received by the author in response to her opinions on trans people.

Rowling, 57, has long been a critic of gender ideology and, in her own words, “women’s sex-based rights”.

The backlash against the author appeared to begin in June 2020 after the author called out an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate”. She wrote; “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”

While there was a contingent of Twitter users who supported Rowling for her tweet, there were plenty – including numerous celebrities – who criticised her comment as “anti-trans” and “transphobic”, arguing that trans men, non-binary and non-gender conforming people can also menstruate.

Rowling also found herself receiving death threats on social media, which Fiennes, 59, commented on in a new interview.

“The verbal abuse directed at her is disgusting, it’s appalling,” he told The New York Times. “I mean, I can understand a viewpoint that might be angry at what she says about women. But it’s not some obscene, uber right-wing fascist.

“It’s just a woman saying, ‘I’m a woman and I feel I’m a woman and I want to be able to say that I’m a woman.’ And I understand where she’s coming from. Even though I’m not a woman.”

He continued: “JK Rowling has written these great books about empowerment, about young children finding themselves as human beings. It’s about how you become a better, stronger, more morally-centred human being.”

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Ralph Fiennes played Lord Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter' franchise
Ralph Fiennes played Lord Voldemort in the ‘Harry Potter' franchise (Getty Images for 20th Century St)

In the wake of growing outcry surrounding her comments, Rowling claimed to be a supporter of transgender rights, and took issue with being labelled a “terf”, a trans-exclusionary radical feminist.

In an essay, the author addressed the backlash and revealed her experiences of surviving alleged domestic abuse and sexual assault.

However, the essay sparked further criticism and many actors from the Harry Potter franchise, including Rupert Grint, Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson, have since voiced their support for trans women.

In January 2022, Fiennes appeared on Harry Potter’s 20th anniversry reunion, titled Return to Hogwarts, in which he explained why he accepted the role of Lord Voldemort.

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