Actor Eddie Redmayne said he supports transgender rights, but also defended Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, who has made several anti-trans comments in the past. Redmayne, who stars in the Rowling-written Harry Potter prequel series Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them, said the "vitriol" Rowling sees online is just as "disgusting" as the attacks the trans community faces. Harry Potter actors Emma Watson and Daniel Radcliffe have both taken strong stands supporting the trans community amid Rowling's controversy.
Redmayne played a transgender character in 2015's The Danish Girl, even earning an Oscar nomination for his performance in the film, although he is not transgender himself. In a new interview with The Daily Mail, the Theory of Everything actor said he has many "trans friends and colleagues" whose "human rights" are "challenged around the world" and are "facing discrimination on a daily basis." However, the criticism Rowling has received online is "absolutely disgusting," so he wrote a personal note to Rowling.
The actor said the insults the transgender community sees on social media are "equally disgusting" when compared to the anger Rowling sees. "Similarly, there continues to be a hideous torrent of abuse towards trans people online and out in the world that is devastating," the actor said. He is now working on the third Fantastic Beasts movie, in which he will play Newt Scamander again.
This quote was not the first time Redmayne has spoken out about Rowling's anti-trans messages. In June, he said in a statement to Variety he disagreed with Rowling's tweets. "Trans women are women, trans men are men and non-binary identities are valid," Redmayne wrote. "I would never want to speak on behalf of the community but I do know that my dear transgender friends and colleagues are tired of this constant questioning of their identities, which all too often results in violence and abuse. They simply want to live their lives peacefully, and it's time to let them do so."
Rowling's comments about the transgender community have earned widespread criticism, especially from transgender Harry Potter fans who connect with the characters she created. Radcliffe, who has been a longtime supporter of The Trevor Project, wrote an emotional statement criticizing her comments. "Transgender women are women," he wrote. "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."
"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," Watson tweeted on June 10. "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."
Redmayne is not alone in defending Rowling against the criticism. Earlier this month, Robbie Coltrane, who played Hagrid in the Harry Potter movies, told the Radio Times her critics "wait around to be offended." He said he did not "think what she said was offensive really." Coltrane said he was talking from the viewpoint of a "grumpy old man," but doubled down on his comments.
Rowling's controversial comments about the trans community include defending a researcher who was fired for being anti-trans and a series of tweets in June complaining about a headline about "people who menstruate." Additionally, her new book, Troubled Blood, centers on a cisgender male serial killer who dresses as a woman when he murders female victims. Some took that plot as an example of transphobia.