JK Rowling: Harry Potter stars would not be forgiven if they apologise to me

She was asked about forgiving Daniel Radcliffe following the publication of the Cass report.

Charlotte McLaughlin
Thursday 11 April 2024 10:23 BST
JK Rowling. (Yui Mok/PA)
JK Rowling. (Yui Mok/PA) (PA Archive)

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Harry Potter author JK Rowling has criticised celebrities who “used their platforms to cheer on” the transitioning of children, suggesting she would not forgive the film franchise’s stars even if they apologised.

Daniel Radcliffe and Emma Watson have both previously spoken out in support of transgender people following comments made by the author, 58.

Her rebuke of the pair came amid a string of posts on X, formerly Twitter, following the Cass Review, which found that a lack of research and evidence on the use of puberty blockers and hormones had let children down.

Scotland-based Rowling responded on Wednesday to a post suggesting Radcliffe and Watson would be “safe in the knowledge” she would forgive them if they offered her a public apology.

But she replied saying: “Not safe, I’m afraid. Celebs who cosied up to a movement intent on eroding women’s hard-won rights and who used their platforms to cheer on the transitioning of minors can save their apologies for traumatised detransitioners and vulnerable women reliant on single-sex spaces.”

Former prime minister Boris Johnson has been among her defenders, he called her a “modern saint” who had been “demonised” at a Conservative conference in Canada on Wednesday – while saying that the majority of people agree with her views.

Rowling had previously welcomed the review by Dr Hilary Cass, which said that young people have been caught up in a “stormy social discourse” and gender care is currently an area of “remarkably weak evidence”.

“Even if you don’t feel ashamed of cheerleading for what now looks like severe medical malpractice, even if you don’t want to accept that you might have been wrong, where’s your sense of self-preservation?” Rowling wrote, in a series of posts on Wednesday.

“The bandwagon you hopped on so gladly is hurtling towards a cliff.”

She added that the report was “not a triumph, it’s the laying bare of a tragedy”.

Since December 2019, Rowling has hit the headlines for her views on transgender issues.

She has always strongly denied being transphobic and has been criticised by fans for her social media posts about the issue.

In June 2020, Radcliffe, who had played Harry Potter throughout the eight films, put out a statement through the LGBT suicide prevention charity The Trevor Project saying “transgender women are women” and anything to the contrary “erases the identity and dignity” of people.

He acknowledged that Rowling is “unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken”, but said he felt “compelled to say something at this moment”.

Speaking in November 2022, he said: “The reason I felt very, very much as though I needed to say something when I did was because, particularly since finishing Potter, I’ve met so many queer and trans kids and young people who had a huge amount of identification with Potter on that.”

Watson, who played Hermione Granger, and Rupert Grint, known for the role of Ron Weasley, in the Harry Potter film series; as well as Eddie Redmayne, who stars in Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts films, also spoke up during this period.

Watson said in a series of Twitter posts in June 2020: “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.

“I want my trans followers to know that I and so many other people around the world see you, respect you and love you for who you are.”

In a video posted to the Cable Public Affairs Channel (CPAC), Mr Johnson said that Rowling was being “demonised” while talking about free speech.

“She’s probably done more to encourage young people to read around the world than any other person I can think of,” he told the Canada Strong and Free Networking Conference.

“She’s a modern saint, it’s unbelievable what they’re saying about her.

“And by the way, what’s so crazy, is what she says about gender is, of course, what 95% of the population secretly think.”

He added that people “don’t have the guts” to be outspoken on the issue “because they’re worried they will offend somebody”.

Earlier this month, Rowling appeared to challenge Police Scotland to arrest her if her social media posts break the new laws following the introduction of the Hate Crime and Public Order (Scotland) Act.

“I’m currently out of the country, but if what I’ve written here qualifies as an offence under the terms of the new Act, I look forward to being arrested when I return to the birthplace of the Scottish Enlightenment,” Rowling said.

The force then confirmed it would take no action against the author.

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