JK Rowling: flood of tweets reverses Noma Dumezweni’s praise of author The Times 13.06.20
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An actress who played a leading role in the Harry Potter West End spin-off has rescinded her message of support for JK Rowling, who has been accused of transphobia.
Noma Dumezweni, 50, who played Hermione Granger in the stage production Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, deleted a tweet praising the author, saying that she now believes Rowling is mistaken in her stance, tweeting: “There is magic in listening.”
Rowling continues to face criticism a week after she tweeted her annoyance at an article that used the term “people who menstruate” instead of “women”. She published an essay on her website on Wednesday arguing that biological sex was meaningful and that there are elements of the trans community who are “seeking to erode ‘woman’ as a political and biological class”.
Seven actors who appeared in the Harry Potter films have made statements opposing Rowling, including the three principal cast members: Daniel Radcliffe, Emma Watson and Rupert Grint. Eddie Redmayne, who starred in the spin-off Harry Potter films Fantastic Beasts, has also expressed support for the trans community.
The criticism appears to be a generational divide. Apart from Dumezweni, none of the actors who retorted to Rowling’s comments has been over the age of 38.
Agents acting for Emma Thompson, 61, and Robbie Coltrane, 70, who appeared in the Harry Potter films, said they were unavailable. There was no response from the agents of other stars including Maggie Smith, 85, Gary Oldman, 62, and Julie Walters, 70.
Dumezweni initially reacted positively to the author’s impassioned essay “applauding what I saw as openness”. “Then I felt the flood arrive in such quick time that I though, oooh s**t. I need to reread,” she added.
The actress addressed Rowling in a tweet: “As I honour mine, and the trans friends in my life, I’ll defer to their lived experiences, not their erasure,” she wrote. “And these are just the women! There is magic in listening. This [world] has stories for millennia. I know You Know all this.”
Some hardcore Harry Potter enthusiasts have become so disenchanted by Rowling’s polemic that they have burned their collections of her books.
Melissa Anelli, who runs The Leaky Cauldron, one of the most popular Potter fan sites in the world, has urged the community to boycott the books and not watch the films. The website was set up in 2000 and was once described by Rowling as “my favourite fan site”. MuggleNet, a website founded in 1999 to discuss the universe created by Rowling, has encouraged its supporters to unfollow her on Twitter and to donate to trans advocacy groups.
Rowling has remained silent since her website post, in which she described how she empathised with trans people who had faced violence because she had suffered domestic abuse during her first marriage, to Jorge Arantes.
Arantes, 52, told The Sun: “There was not sustained abuse. I’m not sorry for slapping her. There was no domestic violence, nor sexual violence. I don’t know exactly what she said, I still have to read it, but I’m not interested in commenting or refuting.
“I don’t know why she involved me, if she involved me and if she was really referring to me. Apparently it has to do with transsexuals and transphobia.”
Domestic violence charities criticised The Sun over its headline: “I slapped JK and I’m not sorry.” Women’s Aid said its front page had a negative impact.
The Sun, which is owned by News UK, parent company of The Times, said that it was not its intention to enable or glorify abuse but to “expose a perpetrator’s total lack of remorse”.
A spokeswoman added: “Our sympathies are always with the victims.”