Nearly three years after sparking outrage online, J.K. Rowling is reflecting on her transphobia controversy and Harry Potter fans’ backlash to the matter. The bestselling author came under first in mid 2020 when she took to social media to criticize an article’s use of the phrase “people who menstruate,” with her comments being widely regarded as anti-trans and disrespectful. Rowling has defended herself a number of times in the years since while both fans and prior collaborators have been divided right down the middle.
In the latest episode of the ongoing podcast, The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling, the eponymous author opened up about the controversy surrounding her seeming transphobic comments. Though not admitting regret at her actions, Rowling did confess to feeling scared for her and her family’s life following Harry Potter fan backlash, which included death threats, while also indicating others have remained in defense of her. See Rowling’s reflecting on the controversy below:
I absolutely knew that if I spoke out many people who had loved my books would be deeply unhappy with me. I knew that. I knew because I could see that they believed they were living the values that I espoused in those books. I could tell they believed they were fighting for underdog and difference and fairness. And I thought it would be easier not to, you know, that this could be really bad. And honestly it has been bad. Personally, it has not been fun. And I have been scared at times for my safety and overwhelmingly for my family’s safety.
Time will tell whether I’ve got this wrong. I can only say that I’ve thought about it deeply and hard and long and I’ve listened, I promise, to the other side. And I believe absolutely that there is something dangerous about this movement and it must be challenged. But at the same time, I have to tell you, a ton of Potter fans were still with me. And in fact, a ton of Potter fans were grateful that I’d said what I said.
Most actors from the Harry Potter franchise have spoken out against Rowling’s transphobic comments, with Daniel Radcliffe apologizing to fans of the series and the LGBTQ+ community for her words. She has not been without some defenders, however, as Voldemort actor Ralph Fiennes has slammed those critical of her for their “disturbing” level of hatred for the author, while Luna Lovegood actor Evanna Lynch most recently felt audiences should grant her a platform to share her opinions.
Warner Bros., the studio behind the Harry Potter and Fantastic Beasts movies, and Universal Studios Parks & Resorts, home to the Hogwarts theme park rides, have been back and forth in their responses, emphasizing their support for the LGBTQ+ community while also condemning threats made against Rowling. The fan backlash has led to an overall uncertainty for the franchise’s ongoing success, as some took to boycotting Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore and the recently released Hogwarts Legacy video game.
Though the third installment in the Fantastic Beasts franchise was its lowest-grossing and potentially killed plans for the final two chapters, Hogwarts Legacy did go on to garner positive reviews and breaking multiple records for Warner Bros. Games, indicating Rowling’s comments may not have hurt the Harry Potter brand entirely for the future. Warner Bros. Discovery CFO Gunnar Wiedenfels did recently tease that the Wizarding World expansion is only just beginning for the studio, though whether it be more Fantastic Beasts, an adaptation of Harry Potter and The Cursed Child or a full-on reboot remains to be seen.
The Witch Trials of J.K. Rowling
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