Did Rowling’s starlets use her trans tweet for a spot of virtue ...

Ideas

Did Rowling’s starlets use her trans tweet for a spot of virtue signalling?

The Potter actors have conjured up a full-blown row about transphobia. What’s really behind the backlash?

Peter Stanford

We are used to actors being fickle in their public posturing. Think Emma Thompson, championing Extinction Rebellion one minute and being photographed the next in the first-class cabin of a fuel-guzzling plane. But, by any measurement, the speed with which those young unknowns whose glittering careers were launched by the Harry Potter franchise turned last week on its creator, JK Rowling, in a row about transphobia, is breathtaking.

First to cry “expelliarmus” was Daniel Radcliffe, the boy-wizard himself, now 30, with recent credits including Guns Akimbo, Escape from Pretoria and Playmobil: The Movie (no, me neither). Responding to a tweet from Rowling to her 14.5 million followers at the weekend, in which she criticised an article that referred to “people who menstruate” (“I’m sure there used to be a word for those people,” she wrote. “Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?”), Radcliffe gave Harry Potter’s literary mother a dressing-down.

“Transgender women are women,” he snapped back, adding that neither he nor “Jo”, as he refers to Rowling, were expert in such matters. (Except, of course, that she is a woman and he isn’t.) Radcliffe also attached to his tweet an article explaining his logic. He then added what read like a public disowning to Harry Potter fans of the woman who had watched over him and the rest of the young principals in the 10 years they were working on the set of the eight-film series...

This article is reserved for Times Select subscribers.
A subscription gives you full digital access to all Times Select content.

Times Select

Already subscribed? Simply sign in below.

Questions or problems?
Email helpdesk@timeslive.co.za or call 0860 52 52 00.