Daniel Radcliffe Writes a Thoughtful Response to J.K. Rowling’s Statements about Trans WomenPosted: 10 Jun 2020 09:53 AM PDTImage by Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia CommonsThere are many more important things happening in the world than the tweets of Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling, but the tweets of J.K. Rowling are nonetheless worthy of attention, for the sake of fans of the series, many of whom are young and do not understand why their parents might suddenly be angry with her, or who are very angry with her themselves. As you have probably heard, Rowling has doubled and tripled down on statements others have repeatedly told her are transphobic, ignorant, and offensive.Whatever you think of her tweets (and if you agree with her, you’re probably only reading this post to disagree with me), they signal a failure of empathy and humility on Rowling’s part. She could just say nothing and try to listen and learn more. Empathy does not require that we wholly understand another’s lived experience. Only that we can imagine feeling the feelings someone has about it—feelings of marginalization, disappointment, fear, desire for recognition and respect, whatever; and that we trust they know more about who they are than we do.Rowling is neither a trans woman, nor a doctor, nor an expert on gender identity, a fact that Daniel Radcliffe, Harry Potter himself, points out in his response to her: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. According to The Trevor Project, 78% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity. It’s clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm.While the author has qualified her dogmatic statements by expressing support for the trans community and saying she has many trans friends, this doesn’t explain why she feels the need to offer uninformed opinions about people who face very real harm from such rhetoric: who are routinely victims of violent hate crimes and are far more likely to live in poverty and face employment discrimination.Radcliffe’s thoughtful, kind response will get more clicks if it’s sold as “Harry Potter Claps Back at J.K. Rowling” or “Harry Potter DESTROYS J.K. Rowling” or “Harry Potter Bites the Hand that Fed Him” or something, but he wants to make it clear “that is really not what this is about, nor is it what’s important right now” and that he wouldn’t be where he is without her. He closes with a lovely message to the series’ fans, one that might apply to any of our troubled relationships with an artist and their work: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. I really hope that you don’t entirely lose what was valuable in these stories to you. If these books taught you that love is the strongest force in the universe, capable of overcoming anything; if they taught you that strength is found in diversity, and that dogmatic ideas of pureness lead to the oppression of vulnerable groups; if you believe that a particular character is trans, nonbinary, or gender fluid, or that they are gay or bisexual; 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.The statement was posted at the Trevor Project, an organization providing “crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer & questioning (LGBTQ) young people under 25.” Learn more about resources for young people who might need mental health support at their site.Update: You can read Rowling’s response, posted today here.
The afternoon shadows were lengthening as the last car drove into the makeshift parking lot in the field adjacent to the camp and a hooded figure covered in drapery exited from the wooden gatehouse. The figure, shrouded in a yellow toga, said, “Welcome. You are Tee. You are familiar with the rules?” Tee guessed that it was the voice of a man, but could not be sure, due to utilization of a voice modifier. Only fingers flashed momentarily from beneath the loose sleeves of a toga, with which everyone had been supplied in advance.
Tee nodded. Tee was covered in a green toga.
“You are assigned to the third cabin on the right down the path. Dinner will be in the large building further along the path, and will be announced by a gong, as will other gatherings, in the same building. You are not to reveal your birth sex to any person, whether registrant or staff.” A pamphlet describing the rules and goals for encampment changed hands, as did a proffered voice modifier and a pad of paper and pen. “Most folks write notes instead of talk….Oh, and each cabin has its own privy and running water….And you’re just in time for dinner.”
Tee’s head bowed briefly. A week of meditation, contemplation, education and sharing with other non-binary individuals lay ahead. Twenty individuals had paid the tuition, seeking what? An additional six had completed an earlier camp and functioned now as staff. The combination totaled the 26 letters of the alphabet, each letter assigned as a name for members of the gathering. Tee’s stomach spasmed alarmingly. What was he afraid of?
The large suitcase on wheels rattled as it passed over occasional rocks along the well-trod path. Tee deposited the suitcase just inside the door of the third cabin, and headed for the privy just as the gong sounded. Following other robed figures in silence beneath a canopy of occasional bird song felt unreal as though Tee was in a stage play.
Well, it was staged, but it wasn’t playful. Would everyone really maintain their anonymity for an entire week? Of course an accidental flash of skin would reveal little, since all were either in a pre-transitioning, current or post-transitioning stage.
Upon entering the rustic mess hall which would double for meetings, Tee was greeted with silence. Only the clinking of plates and silverware along the self-help cafeteria line filled the air. Someone stifled a sneeze. What few sounds there were echoed hollowly. A figure in the corner at a rear table seemed to be weeping silently. A scrap of paper was handed down the long table at which Tee sat: please pass the salt.
The meal was tasty, a large serving of either regular or vegan vegetable soup and a mixed garden salad. It was not until the dessert of baked apple had been finished and each participant had returned their utensils that a figure of medium height spoke, utilizing a voice modifier. The figure was wearing a hooded yellow robe and stood, directing the registrants to the far side of the large room.
“Welcome, bearers of the life force! If you are seriously on the non-binary journey that phrase will not sound smaltzy to you. I am Ex. Our first task is to bond, and to facilitate that we will join in chanting, an old and revered tradition. You may have heard recordings of monks chanting, as well as nuns. We will develop our own version, after first listening to the following recording. At any time you may add your voice through the voice modifier or naturally—we won’t notice the difference.”
The lights were dimmed and a recording began to play. After several minutes of absorption with eyes closed, Tee imagined God being present, then with a start realized he was He: binary. So much for trying to tie religion into this concept. Evolution was responsible. Tee had earlier felt a connectivity that floated above, below, within, accepting the totality of one’s own being. That feeling was returning now.
So religion was out and spirituality was in. Was it the chanting or the setting that was responsible for the increased percolating of realizations about the binary/nonbinary conundrum? The voices of an indeterminate sex rising now from the gathering blended in with those on the recording. When the recorded chanting came to an end the chanting of those present continued for an extended period, with the droning sounds rising and falling until there was absolute silence.
` Tee became aware of a thrill or a chill, at least a quivering awakening inside. The bonding had begun–spiritual, if not religious.
There was a soft rustle as the entire staff, dressed in their yellow attire, stepped up to welcome the newcomers. Everyone’s identities were private. Only the body size could not be modified.
“We will break into two groups in order to share our hopes and expectations for the retreat.” The groups counted themselves off and sat at some distance from each other. Three of the staff accompanied each grouping.
Silence followed, as each reflected on their hopes and needs. Finally, one said through the voice modulator, “I’m tired of feeling like a weirdo. I want to feel connected to humanity.”
Another spoke, and another, the momentum growing. “I want to experience myself.”
“If I’m really non-binary I want to find out who I am, then.”
“I want to quit feeling ashamed of myself.”
“I want to understand what’s happened to me.”
“I’d like to know why.”
“I know I’m up against evolution, and that’s scary.”
“I want to connect with reality…if there is any.”
“As I get clearer things get muddier.”
And so it went, one of those dressed in yellow drapery joining in. “I sought integration in the face of sexuality. I received help, but I need more.”
The silence was heavy as the new members—devotees—seekers—the wounded–departed for their assigned cabins, each wrapped deep in solitary reflection.
c nan mykel
I’m really compiling this to clarify things in my head. What’s okay? What’s not okay? I’m trolling the huge book Trans Bodies, Trans Selves; A Resource for the Transgender Community, edited by Laura Erickson-Schroth, as well as any other informative publication I can find in my self-educational journey (which I’m willing to share with you but given my experience with blog avoiders of unpleasantness I’m not, as they say, holding my breath.)
female assigned at birth
TGNC – trans and gender noncnforming
AFAB -assigned female at birthAMAB
disorder of sex development
sex reassignment surgery (SRS)
gender-affirming surgery (GAS)
LGBTQIA – lesbian, gay, bi=sexual, transgender, queer, intersex and allies.
cisgender – (gender identity matches their bology
the transgender continuum
Excellent point! I agree.
Due to my sloveness (I looked it up in my Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary), definitions include “untidy, especially in personal appearance” and “slipshod in thought” — I overshot my day to return to the site.
Where have I heard this before: “I’m writing a novel.” But don’t hide your money– I’ll probably be long dead before it’s finished. (Strange sentence, since it won’t be finished.)
It’s about a tranny (a term of affection or disrespect? I don’t know, but easy to say). She is struggling with whether to come “out” or not. That’s why I’m puzzling (secretly, of course) my librarian with all those books on the topic I’ve been checking out. I’m also a feminist who knows a couple of nice guys. Anyhow, that’s why I read with interest and want to share the following accomplishments from Benjamin Goggin of Digg, as a little confusingly amplified by several half-a-day-later clarifications. OOPS IS RIGHT! 2017 ELECTION
Danica Roem became the first transgender person to be elected to Va. House of Delegates-TRUE
Gerri Cannon became the first transgender person to be elected to political office in New Hampshire (Somersworth School board). TRUE
Andrea Jenkins became the first transgender person to win a spot on Minneapolis’ City Council (TRUE) and the first black [openly] transgender person to be elected to political office in the U.S. (Per Digg). In 1992 a black closeted transgender person was elected to a seat in the Massachusetts state house but was “outed” by a reporter who found her birth certificate. She served only one term. Although she left the Republican party, her beliefs remained conservative. Her name is Althea Garrison. (Per Wagonwe, Daily Kos)
Lisa Middleton became the first transgender person to win a non-judicial position in California, joining the Palm Springs City Council. TRUE
Jenny Durkan became the first lesbian elected mayor of Seattle and the first woman to hold that position since 1920. TRUE
Dawn Adams became Virginia’s first-out of the closet lesbian official in Virginia’s 68th district. TRUE
Kathy Tram became the first Asian American woman elected to the Virginia GeneralAssembly. TRUE
Two latino women, Elizabeh Guzman and Hala Ayala were the first to be elected to the Virginia General Assembly. TRUE
Vi Lyles bcame the first black woman elected mayor of Charlotte, N.C TRUE
Ravi Bhalla was elected to mayor of Hoboken, N.J. and the first Sith mayor in his state. TRUE
Joyen Craig became Manchester, New Hampshire’s first woman Mayor. TRUE