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Daniel Radcliffe responds to J.K. Rowling's comments on gender identity

Daniel Radcliffe at the 2019 Toronto International Film

Daniel Radcliffe at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival. Credit: Getty Images/Amanda Edwards

"Harry Potter" film series star Daniel Radcliffe, responding to J.K. Rowling's controversial comments about transgender people, tried to shed light Monday on the discrimination and misunderstandings that trans and other LGBTQ individuals often face.

"I realize that certain press outlets will probably want to paint this as infighting between J.K. Rowling and myself, but that is really not what this is about, nor is it what's important right now," Radcliffe, 30, said of the "Harry Potter" novelist in a 400-word essay at The Trevor Project, a national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services for LGBTQ youth.

Acknowledging his debt to Rowling "for the course my life has taken," he said that as a longtime supporter of the organization, he felt compelled to speak. "Transgender women are women," said the English actor. "Any statement to the contrary erases the identity and dignity of transgender people and goes against all advice given by professional health care associations."

More than three-quarters of transgender and nonbinary youth "reported being the subject of discrimination due to their gender identity," he continued. "It's clear that we need to do more to support transgender and nonbinary people, not invalidate their identities, and not cause further harm."

Radcliffe told fans of the "Harry Potter" coming-of-age fantasy saga "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."

He added, "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."

Rowling, 54, sparked a backlash over the weekend for tweets many took to be transphobic. "If sex isn't real, there's no same-sex attraction," she said in part. "If sex isn't real, the lived reality of women globally is erased. I know and love trans people, but erasing the concept of sex removes the ability of many to meaningfully discuss their lives. It isn't hate to speak the truth."

Rowling had a defender in British talk-show host and producer Jonathan Ross, 59, who called the author "both right and magnificent. For those accusing her of transphobia, please read what she wrote. She clearly is not."

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