The Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe has spoken out over JK Rowling’s recent comments about the transgender community and said he hopes they will not “taint” the series for fans.
The statement comes in response to a series of controversial tweets from Rowling over the weekend.
Rowling took issue with a headline on an online article discussing “people who menstruate” and said: “I’m sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”
Critics accused her of being transphobic, an allegation Rowling strongly denies. She responded by saying: “I respect every trans person’s right to live any way that feels authentic and comfortable to them. I’d march with you if you were discriminated against on the basis of being trans.”
Radcliffe, who rose to fame after playing the schoolboy wizard Harry in the blockbuster adaptations of the beloved book series, commented on the controversy on Monday, saying “transgender women are women”.
In a a statement through the LGBT suicide prevention charity the Trevor Project, Radcliffe said that while Rowling “is unquestionably responsible for the course my life has taken … as a human being, I feel compelled to say something at this moment”.
Writing that the issue is not about “in-fighting between JK Rowling and myself”, he added: “Transgender women are women. 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.”
The 30-year-old then cited statistics from the Trevor Project that found 78% of transgender and non-binary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity.
He said: “It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and non-binary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.”
Radcliffe addressed fans on social media who said they could no longer enjoy the Harry Potter series due to their disagreement with Rowling.
“To all the people who now feel that their experience of the books has been tarnished or diminished, I am deeply sorry for the pain these comments have caused you,” he said.
“If you found anything in these stories that resonated with you and helped you at any time in your life – then that is between you and the book that you read, and it is sacred.
“And in my opinion nobody can touch that. It means to you what it means to you and I hope that these comments will not taint that too much.”
Radcliffe has previously supported LGBT rights and activism, pushing for marriage equality in the US before its legalization.
This is not the first time Rowling has faced backlash over her comments on trans people. In December, Rowling tweeted out support for Maya Forstater, a British woman who lost her job after tweeting “Men cannot change into women”. Rowling said at the time: “Dress however you please (…) But force women out of their jobs for stating that sex is real?”
Other prominent voices have distanced themselves from Rowling. The Queer Eye star Jonathan Van Ness, who is non-binary, responded to Rowling’s tweets with “Trans women are women”. Katie Leung, who also starred in the Harry Potter films, referenced her character and shared links to trans activist groups on Twitter.
Following the backlash, Rowling stood by her comments, saying: “If sex isn’t real, there’s no same-sex attraction. 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.”
Agencies contributed reporting