'Voldemort' Actor Ralph Fiennes 'Disturbed' at 'Vitriol' over JK Rowling's Comments on Trans People

by Kilian Melloy

EDGE Staff Reporter

Thursday March 18, 2021

British actor Ralph Fiennes, who played uber-baddie Lord Voldemort in the "Harry Potter" films, said in an interview that he's puzzled by the "vitriol" that followed comments about transgender people made by "Harry Potter" author JK Rowling, .

"I can't understand the vitriol directed at her," Fiennes said to The Telegraph.

"I can understand the heat of an argument," Fiennes continued, "but I find this age of accusation, and the need to condemn, irrational. I find the level of hatred people express about views that differ from theirs, and the violence of language towards others, disturbing."

"The actor added he believes 'we need to have those voices that risk being offensive,' explaining the world needs art that 'could shake the scenery, that could get inside us and make us angry and turn us on,' " detailed E! Online.

"I would hate a world where the freedom of that kind of voice is stifled," Fiennes said.

Rowling became sparked the controversy last June when she took exception to an op-ed that referred to "people who menstruate".

In response, she posted a tart tweet: "I'm sure there used to be a word for those people. Someone help me out. Wumben? Wimpund? Woomud?"

New outrage followed the month after, when Rowling called gender affirmation treatments "a new kind of conversion therapy for young gay people."

Then, in December, Rowling waded into the fracas once again when she told Good Housekeeping Magazine "Many women are concerned about the challenges to their fundamental rights posed by certain aspects of gender identity ideology."

Actors who have appeared in films based on Rowling's books have weighed in. Daniel Radcliffe, who played Harry Potter, authored an essay for LGBTQ youth suicide prevention group The Trevor Project, saying "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 than either Jo or me."

Radcliffe added: "It's clear we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause harm."

Rowling says she is not transphobic, posting that she does "want trans women to be safe."

However, Rowling - who has said she is a survivor of sexual assault and domestic abuse - does not "want to make natal girls and women less safe," and worried that "throw[ing] open the doors of bathrooms and changing rooms to any man who believes or feels he's a woman" could present dangers.

Openly gender fluid British comic Eddie Izzard, who uses feminine pronouns, rose to Rowling's defense earlier this year, saying Rowling is not transphobic and calling on trans and cisgender women to "not be fighting each other".

Kilian Melloy serves as EDGE Media Network's Associate Arts Editor and Staff Contributor. His professional memberships include the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association, the Boston Online Film Critics Association, The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, and the Boston Theater Critics Association's Elliot Norton Awards Committee.