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The actor behind Lord Voldemort came to Rowling's defense.

By Nick Romano
March 18, 2021 at 09:27 AM EDT
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Harry Potter's Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes just doesn't understand why so many people are upset at author J.K. Rowling for suggesting trans women are not women.

"I can't understand the vitriol directed at her," Fiennes told The Telegraph in an interview. "I can understand the heat of an argument, but I find this age of accusation and the need to condemn irrational. I find the level of hatred that people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing."

A rep for Fiennes did not immediately respond to EW's request for further comment.

Rowling has been labeled a TERF (trans exclusionary radical feminist) by many activists. They see her as a transphobic feminist for using her Twitter and one particularly lengthy essay published to her personal website to argue that biological sex should be separate from gender.

Among the many points of contention in the essay, Rowling wrote about her past experience with domestic abuse and links it to her views on trans people. She references "the huge numbers" of abuse survivors who have "concerns around single-sex spaces."

"I refuse to bow down to a movement" — meaning the trans rights movement — "that I believe is doing demonstrable harm in seeking to erode 'woman' as a political and biological class and offering cover to predators like few before it," Rowling wrote. "I stand alongside the brave women and men, gay, straight, and trans, who're standing up for freedom of speech and thought, and for the rights and safety of some of the most vulnerable in our society: young gay kids, fragile teenagers, and women who're reliant on and wish to retain their single-sex spaces."

She added, "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 … Women [are told they] must accept and admit that there is no material difference between trans women and themselves … But, as many women have said before me, 'woman' is not a costume."

JK Rowling and Ralph Fiennes
Credit: Dave M. Benett/Getty Images

Fiennes isn't the first Harry Potter franchise actor to weigh in on the matter, but he's lonely in deeming the response to Rowling "disturbing." Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson, Rupert Grint, Eddie Redmayne, Evanna Lynch, Bonnie Wright, Noma Dumezweni, Chris Rankin, and Katie Leung have all voiced their support for the trans community in the wake of Rowling's essay.

Eddie Izzard, after announcing she is gender-fluid and identifies with she/her pronouns, came to Rowling's defense. "I don't think J.K. Rowling is transphobic," she said. "I think we need to look at the things she has written about in her blog. Women have been through such hell over history. Trans people have been invisible, too. I hate the idea we are fighting between ourselves, but it's not going to be sorted with the wave of a wand."

Various organizations, including the president of the Robert F Kennedy Human Rights group that recognized Rowling with a human rights award, also denounced the author's stance. (Rowling voluntarily gave back the award.)

"It seems J.K. is good at only one thing: writing fantasy," a spokesperson from GLAAD said in a past statement. "Her misinformed and dangerous missive about transgender people flies in the face of medical and psychological experts and devalues trans people accounts of their own lives. She is sowing divisiveness in a time when real leaders are driving toward unity. And to all the trans and cisgender youth raised on her books who are now loudly speaking up in support of the trans people you know and love, you are the future and we can't wait to read and watch the beautiful art you will create."

While it looks like Fiennes' time as Voldemort in the movies has come to an end, Warner Bros. is in production on the continuing Fantastic Beasts franchise, led by Redmayne. The studio said in part with regards to Rowling, "We recognize our responsibility to foster empathy and advocate understanding of all communities and all people, particularly those we work with and those we reach through our content."

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